September 6, 2018

About a century ago, American manufacturers started stacking their goods on wooden pallets that could then be carried off by forklifts. Taking advantage of these two recent inventions allowed factories to transport products in bulk without making a lot of trips. Not much has changed since then: today more than 2 billion pallets circulate around the U.S. carrying everything from car parts to candy.

Despite its staying power, though, the classic wooden pallet certainly comes with its share of disadvantages. Continue reading

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July 10, 2018

The 2018 FIFA World Cup hits the home stretch this week, with the semifinals taking place today and tomorrow followed by the final match on Sunday. While the end of this month-long festival of soccer will be bittersweet for many fans, few people will be sadder to see it go than the people who run the Italian publishing house Panini. The company specializes in making stickers that feature every player in the tournament along with a free booklet to place Continue reading

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Modern factories depend on high-tech concepts such as automation and computer-aided manufacturing in order to operate as efficiently as possible. Despite these advancements, though, even the most state-of-the-art facilities can fall victim to unforeseen setbacks that halt production completely. At Ford, for instance, the automaker announced yesterday that it will temporarily stop making its popular F-150 trucks after a fire at a supplier’s factory damaged critical components.

The incident took place last week at a facility that serves as Ford’s Continue reading

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March 1, 2018

Levi Strauss started selling blue jeans more than 100 years ago to miners and farmers who appreciated how long the pants could last under tough conditions. And while today’s consumers love the distressed look that denim achieves with a lot of wear, they don’t exactly want to toil in a mine in order to scuff up their jeans properly. Instead, over the years Levi’s has done all the fraying, fading and ripping themselves in a time-consuming process. Besides taking about Continue reading

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September 29, 2017

Last week Apple released the iPhone 8, the latest version of its iconic smartphone. The company’s flagship product has brought in billions upon billions of dollars over the years, prompting some to wonder why Apple doesn’t move iPhone production to the U.S. After all, it could definitely afford the increased labor costs that comes with doing business domestically. But as this video shows, looking after the bottom line is far from the only reason why Apple keeps its manufacturing operations Continue reading

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August 17, 2017

momoneympproblemzAfter its founding in 1892, General Electric spent decades growing into one of the country’s most successful companies. It continued to expand in the years following World War II, only this time GE began thinking globally rather than domestically. The company built its first international supply chains by establishing manufacturing centers in industrialized nations like France and Japan. By the 1990s GE moved on to developing economies like India and China where the company could produce items like jet engines Continue reading

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August 10, 2017

restaurantThe U.S. economy has managed to add thousands of jobs so far this year thanks to big gains in industries like construction and health care. But even these substantial sectors can’t compare to the robust growth of the restaurant industry, which has gained nearly 200,000 new jobs in 2017 alone. And unlike manufacturing or construction work, these jobs aren’t localized to a few lucky cities scattered across the nation. Instead, nearly every American metropolis has seen a boom in restaurant Continue reading

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January 31, 2017

WilliamMurphyFor years American Apparel seemed poised to become the next big fashion brand. Their simple but bold cotton clothing and suggestive advertisements catapulted the company to a $1 billion valuation in 2007. A decade later, however, American Apparel filed for bankruptcy and sold its assets to a Canadian firm for just $88 million. Along with shuttering its 110 stores, the company also lost its famed garment factory in Los Angeles.

This production facility was one of American Apparel’s best assets Continue reading

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November 1, 2016

MarkOhIn April 2013, more than one thousand Bangladeshi garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Considered to be the deadliest garment factory accident in history, the tragic event led to worldwide condemnation of many Western clothing companies. After all, brands like H&M, Walmart and Zara had long pushed producers in Bangladesh’s growing garment industry to make clothes faster and cheaper. While this allowed retailers to set low prices at their stores, the focus on efficiency forced Bangladesh’s factories Continue reading

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October 25, 2016

MicheleM.FIsraeli entrepreneur Yekutiel Sherman had a great idea for a product: a selfie stick that folded seamlessly into the back of a smartphone’s case. He spent a year carefully designing his idea, producing prototypes and securing small investments from family and friends. By December 2015 Sherman launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to finish funding the item, now called Stikbox. But while the project immediately attracted investors, his popular crowdfunding campaign also caught the attention of Chinese bootleg manufacturers. Within Continue reading

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