Paradigm Shifts Evolving In The Office Furniture Industry
The recent announcement of the acquisition of Knoll by Herman Miller shocked the industry and is bound to cause significant consolidation. Will HM and Knoll dealers merge or will some of those dealers remain independent competitors or even switch manufacturers. Economies of scale mean the merger will make some corporate positions redundant, enabling the parent company to cut costs, while salespeople at dealerships also wonder whether their jobs are secure. Dealers for both manufacturers were blindsided by the news. Meantime Haworth stands to benefit from any confusion during the transition while building a powerhouse of strong luxury brands. Interestingly a major dealer recently dropped Herman Miller in favour of Haworth. No doubt the pandemic is behind many changes in an industry struggling with a return to office space while manufacturers double down on their identities as both corporate and home office furniture designers. Expect big changes at Steelcase and Kimball as well while both companies evolve into the new reality under CEOs who have finally broken through the glass ceiling.
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Top Office Furniture Manufacturers Rely On E-Commerce Acquisitions To Stay Relevant Through The Pandemic
The business model for office furniture manufacturers and their contract furniture dealers must evolve as a result of the changing workplace in the wake of the pandemic. Will cubicles with high walls return to the workplace or will the WFH model shift purchasing decisions from facility managers, architects and interior designers to the employees working from home? In the short term, home offices will surely be upgraded to more ergonomic, height-adjustable desks, purchased by employees with reimbursements funded as expenses by their employers. In the long term, we are likely to see a combination of remote workforces operating from home offices, together with downsized office spaces, remodeled with more expensive workstations with high panels and socially distanced layouts, funded as capital equipment expenditures which can be depreciated over time. In the meantime, the manufacturers who had the foresight to acquire established e-commerce channels, will gain a larger share of the market. Rather than considering e-commerce the enemy to the manufacturers’ survival, some companies have bolstered their range through strategic acquisitions such as Kimball International / Poppin.com, Herman Miller / Design Within Reach and Knoll / Fully.com.
New Drone System Developed For Long Distance Delivery
Civil drone operators are currently restricted to line-of-sight operation of one drone at a time to avoid collisions. Satellite operator, Inmarsat Group Holdings, has partnered with Altitude Angel LTD to operate drones over long distances safely by integrating a backup satellite connection for areas with no land-based communications . If they can prove safe operation to regulators, fleets of remotely operated drones could be deployed to transport tons of goods. Read more about this development at:
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(Photo Credit: Chip Chipman/Bloomberg News)
Startup Aims To Plant 1 Billion Trees By 2028 Using Drones That Transport And Plant Seed Pods
We are losing the oldest species on earth at the rate of 7 billion trees per year. Flash Forest came up with a drone technology that can transport and plant up to 20,000 seed pods per day and access sites that human planters cannot reach. The drones transport the pods and plant them faster and at a lower cost than humans with trucks and shovels. It won’t stop deforestation but it will slow climate change and narrow the gap in the race to restore the planet’s breathing mechanism.
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(Photo credit: Flash Forest: One of Flash Forest’s prototype drones. )
NASA And Virgin Galactic Join Forces To Advance Supersonic Travel
NASA has signed a space act agreement with Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, to develop high-Mach aircraft for potential use in the commercial aviation industry. The team will apply their combined know-how and advances in sub-orbital and space travel to explore new solutions for supersonic flight. The potential for a paradigm shift in high speed passenger and cargo transport is enormous.
(Photo: Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity performs its first glide flight over Spaceport America in New Mexico on May 1, 2020. Image: © Virgin Galactic)
Drone Manufacturer Asks FAA To Approve Unmanned Medical Supply Flights In Response To Pandemic
Zipline is offering to setup a drone-based supply chain across the US for distribution of emergency supplies such as medicine, PPE gear, test kits and even blood to ease supply chain blockages. The drones are launched by catapult and recovered by an arrestor system. The company has been operating the drones to deliver emergency medical supplies to remote locations in Africa for several years. Medical supplies are dropped by parachute to healthcare workers and rushed to areas suffering severe shortages.
(Photo credit: From Zipline via AOPA:
Piper Aircraft Applies R&D Ingenuity To Build Superior Medical Masks For Hospitals Faced With A Shortage Of PPE
The engineers at Piper Aircraft came up with a unique solution to the current shortage of masks for healthcare workers. Using a plastic stamping machine and materials normally used in the production of aircraft interiors, they found a way to utilize in-house equipment and materials for the production of face shields for hospitals on the front line.
Read more about Piper’s engineering turnaround at:
(Photo credit: Piper Aircraft via AOPA/Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)
Trade Continues Despite US Border Closures with Canada and Mexico
Recent announcements of US border closures with Canada and Mexico state that the borders remain open for trade. Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau explained that truck drivers, train and airline crews are exempt from the restrictions.
Read more about the border closures at: https://www.ttnews.com/articles/us-canada-agree-close-border-remain-open-trade
(Photo credit:Trucks on the road. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
Passenger Travel Ban From Europe Causes Severe Disruption Of Air Freight Industry
Some US importers are unaware that the travel ban for passenger flights from Europe will impact their air cargo shipments. The reality is that over 60% of air cargo is carried by passenger aircraft. As a result of the travel ban from Europe to the US, shippers are competing for space on a handful of freighter aircraft, pushing up rates, delaying cargo and diverting traffic through non-European airlines.
Air Force Comes Up With Ingenious RFQ To Expedite Development Of Flying Cars
To promote the development of EVTOL cars, the Air Force will issue an RFQ for a program named Agility Prime, soliciting proposals from commercial developers to design a flying car for troops and cargo. The benefit to commercial developers is that military airspace will be made available to the winning bidders to test their aircraft. Access to military ranges will reduce the time required for certification by the FAA by creating a faster track to proof of airworthiness. Developing the technology for both military and commercial applications at inception would prevent the loss of an entire supply chain to early commercial investors, as was the case with the drone market, now controlled by Chinese investors. Uber and Nasa are working on similar concept vehicles for commercial applications.
Above: Uber’s Flying car concept via breakingdefense.com
In header: Aeromobil VTOL concept via breakingdefense.com)