Welcome To The Blog

The globalization of total production systems from extraction of raw materials though to the recycling of waste has been made possible in recent decades by innovations in three main areas – transportation technology, information and communications technology, and financial deregulation.It is now commonplace for international businesses to carry on R&D, manufacturing and distribution in many different geographical locations around the world depending on which locations are most advantageous from a competitive point of view.

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Living on an island and having a keen interest in travel, I can’t help but be intrigued by the discussions regarding IAG’s proposed takeover of Aer Lingus these past weeks, which have certainly gained intensity with Willie Walsh addressing a Dail committee on Thursday 12th February. Whatever the outcome with the national carrier, the airline industry on our little island, even aside from the juggernaut that is Ryanair, appears to be extremely healthy.

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No doubt the greatest human invention of all time is human language itself. Spoken human language emerged somewhere between 150,000 and 80,000 years ago and was fundamental in enabling human beings to work together and coordinate their actions for mutual benefit.Initially this involved communication among individuals in small bands for hunting and gathering, then later on a much more sophisticated level insedentary agriculture and the building of the institutions that ultimately led to the birth of civilization itself. In effect, the ability to use language is the essence of being human.

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The Six Nations rugby championship kicked off this weekend just passed, pitting the best European international squads from France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales against each other in a gruelling six-weeks of test matches. Ireland, the defending champions began their campaign in Rome against Italy on Saturday with a young debutant, Ian Keatley, playing in the crucial out-half position.

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Taking your business international is an extended journey along a route with many milestones, obstacles, defeats and victories. At first, many start their international adventure importing and exporting, whether by necessity, design or accidental opportunity. Later some progress on to limited foreign production, distribution or sales, using in-market partners. Later still, others may pursue the international voyage to full-scale foreign direct investment becoming truly multi-national businesses.

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INTRODUCTION

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Over the last 15 years or so I have had the, dubious privilege and opportunity to look deeply into the inner workings of up to a 100 warehouses all over the world – here at home in Ireland, in Britain, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North and South America.

60 to 70 per cent of these warehouses have been in manufacturing industry –in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, beverage and industrial equipment. While all warehouse facilities that support manufacturing operations have fundamentally the same processes, one of the things that has struck me most on my travels is the divergence of standards, practices and performance across these different facilities. There is a big gap between the best-in-class and the also-rans.

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At the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the conversation revolved around innovation and volatility; amongst other pressing issues such as economic and gender inequality, sustainability, education and meaningful leadership.

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The French Economist, Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ has attracted as much praise as it has criticism. However, whether or not you agree with Piketty’s diagnosis and remedies for inequality in society it is hard to disagree when he states that the main force for the reduction of inequality in the world is the “diffusion of knowledge and investment in training and skills”.

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On my recent holiday to the Yucatan in Mexico, I was saddened to see tons of plastic residue from packaging being washed up, tangled up in a tide of sargassum (dense algae), on the otherwise pristine beaches of the Costa Maya. This got me thinking about sustainability, ‘reverse supply chains and closed-loop systems’ and wondering how long it will take before better biodegradable materials are used for packaging.

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The geopolitical effects of the advent of North American shale oil have been rapid and spectacular in late 2014 with the US reinforced as a global power and the likes of Russia, Venezuela, Iran and others cast onto the back foot on the global stage. In our own pockets we will have noticed the sharp drop in the cost of filling the tank at the pumps over the Christmas holidays. As the US economy powers ahead, European export companies are now faced with the opportunities presented by a lower Euro-Dollar exchange rate combined with historically low interest rates and falling energy costs.

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