Breaking The Innovation Ice

What's Cooler Than Inventing The Future? Actually Changing It

04 April 2021 // Sometimes, transformation takes a lot more than just building a cool innovation. A Smithsonian Magazine feature on, believe it or not, the history of air conditioning recently reminded us of the long road between innovation and adoption.

It turns out that a Scottish scientist named William Cullen first demonstrated artificial cooling way back in 1748. In a scientific demonstration at the University of Glasgow, Cullen boiled diethyl ether in a vacuum chamber. The evaporating liquid absorbed heat from the environment around its container and produced a small amount of ice. 

That was cool, if not exactly a direct path to Alexa-enabled thermostats. In 1851, American John Gorrie won a patent for his artificial cooling machine but died penniless. Technical issues certainly played a role, but politics also had a chilling effect on air conditioning adoption. Ice makers in the frigid north had financial interests shipping their product to customers down south. And, there were moral concerns: “There was this notion that trying to control the environment was going against God’s will,” Smithsonian curator Peter Liebhold says. 

It would be nearly 200 years until another inventor named Willis Carrier (his name might be on the units at your house or office) developed a market for cooling technology. Trained as an engineer, Carrier was called in to solve a problem at the Sackett & Wilhelms Lithographic and Publishing Company in New York. Two hot summers in a row had wreaked havoc at the printer, puckering paper stock and blurring ink. So, Carrier “used an industrial fan to blow air over steam coils filled with cold water,” the Smithsonian explains. “The excess humidity would then condense on the coils and produce cooled air.” 

Voilà! Stable printing conditions! 

Carrier triumphed by making air conditioning not just comfortable but vital to industry. Then, the nascent movie cinema business spread cool air to an eager general public in the U.S. and around the world.

We see the same pattern with our ChronosCloud supply chain visibility, analytics and efficiency platform. Morgan has long built solutions for its clients on improved supply chain visibility—from web tracking and barcodes in the early days, to mobile computing, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and cloud-based intelligence.

Yet, visibility is just a bell-jar science experiment until the right market conditions emerge. This past pandemic year has taught manufacturers some brutal lessons in the risks of not having firm control over their extended supply chains. A need to adapt quickly to crisis has also moved the industry past the age of big-integration projects. The new winners find ways to solve for real-world problems faster, more flexibly and at lower cost. 

So, we were honored that Intel’s recent Insight.Tech report named ChronosCloud as a leading example of the next generation of “no-code” platforms for supply chain efficiency.

It’s another in a long line of Carrier moments for our business—from Morgan’s transportation transformations to our first-of-kind Inventory On Demand outsourced goods ownership program. 

There’s never been a cooler time to work in supply chain transformation. Let us know if we can help you stop sweating the details of your fast-changing supply chain. We’d be glad to learn more about your transportation challenges or set up a demo and a free, 90-day no-code-required pilot of the ChronosCloud system in your enterprise.

 


 

Heard On The Dock

As a supply chain provider, as a logistics business, we are very much in the data business.


-- Mario Harik, CIO, XPO Logistics

 


 

While You Were Shipping…

More Recent Stories You May Have Missed That Caught Our Eye

 

Visibility Gets More Intelligent (Wall Street Journal; tiered subscription access). Here’s the money quote: “As a supply-chain provider, as a logistics provider, we are very much in the data business,” says Mario Harik, XPO Logistics’ CIO. After more than a year of pandemics, tariffs, canal blockages and other horrors, the world is waking up to the idea that next gen supply chains are about way more than visibility. Seeing your stuff is just penny-ante to the game. It takes analytics and insights, like those our own ChronosCloud platform creates, to make a difference with data.

 

Government In The Supply Chain Business? (Supply And Demand Chain Executive). Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s answer to coordinated supply chain is deeper government involvement—at least for critical industries. In March, an executive order mandated a 100-day review of supply chains for semiconductors, critical minerals, battery components and pharmaceuticals. 

As another piece framed it, the challenge is “trying to balance deepening economic interdependence with a country that [the US] also sees as its biggest competitor,” China. Some of these priorities are already addressed in the infrastructure plan that the administration pitched this week.

 

You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Know (Supply Chain Quarterly). Supply chain’s newfound focus on resiliency has also sparked interest in deeper supplier mapping. Assessing risk is not just about knowing your suppliers, but also your suppliers’ suppliers. 

SCQ’s editors report that 70% of companies didn’t know what parts of their supply networks were affected when COVID-19 first hit. The primary barriers to that visibility are the time and money required to document and continuously update multi-tier relationships. But, the article points out the many ways in which “rapidly evolving technology, cloud adoption and enterprise networks have made mapping cost effective, scalable and rapidly achievable.”

 

Manufacturers Getting Boxed In (Wall Street Journal; tiered subscription access). Last year, demand for boxes plummeted in the beginning of global lockdowns. Since then, demand for cardboard has surged with prices up more than 20 percent according to customers cited by the Journal. Blame it on spending that has shifted from from travel, entertainment and dining towards Amazon deliveries and remodeling. It’s yet another case of what you can’t see in your supply chain might be the thing that kills you. Or at least, it’ll require some out-of-the-box thinking: Said one manufacturer, “I might build wooden boxes.”