How major technology giants play Fun supply chain

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that in order to ensure that cobalt, an important mobile phone battery material, would not be in short supply due to a blowout in the electric car industry, Apple is discussing the possibility of direct procurement of cobalt materials from several mines.

Although the current multi-party talks are still confidential stage, but informed sources said that Apple is now given the program is to seek suppliers to buy thousands of tons of cobalt material, a period of 5 years or longer, and there have been three cobalt mine sources have identified The news.

From this we can see that although the core competitiveness of technology giants is still their own products and services. However, in the current global context of production, any mistakes in the supply chain will lead to their own market position will be affected. In this issue, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, after another battery explosion may be the best embodiment.

In fact, by investing upstream suppliers for a steady supply of raw materials, parts and components, this is already a long way in the global technology industry. So, other than Apple’s attempt to secure cobalt supplies by contracting directly with miners, what other tech giants have done in the supply chain?


Google’s efforts in supply chain management are evident in recent years. Perhaps most striking is that it invested at least 1 trillion won (about $ 880 million) in LG Display last April to help boost its smartphone OLED screen production capacity .

Specifically, Google invested about $ 880 million in LG Display to expand capacity to reduce the huge capital cost LG Display faces. In exchange, LG Display will ensure a steady supply of flexible OLED screens to Google for use on the next generation of Pixel handsets.

The backdrop to this investment is Samsung Display Corp., which monopolizes almost all of the world’s production capacity in the organic area of ​​mobile phones (Samsung currently accounts for more than 95% of the global mobile device OLED market). Moreover, there is news that Apple has ordered 160 million of its organic screen, plus Samsung monitors also give their own Samsung mobile phones to provide an organic screen, so other handset manufacturers have been difficult to purchase from Samsung to the organic screen. So, like other vendors, Google is also beginning to look to another of the world’s largest organic screen maker LG.

In the meantime, Google, which has recently invested heavily in driverless technology, hopes to strengthen its supply chain management capabilities in this area.

For example, Google recently led Daniel Munoz, Apple’s global supply chain manager, to help the company manage its global supply chain for driverless car projects. Mullis, formerly a global supply chain manager for iPhone and later in the Apple Watch team, has been seen internally as the most suitable candidate for Tim Cook’s post-Apple global COO position.


Speaking of Amazon, we can not fail to mention the company’s efforts in recent years to skip directly to individuals and corporate customers in the middle of such issues as skipping logistics and warehousing.

In fact, the past few years, Amazon has been building a high profile logistics and distribution network. According to MWPVL International, a supply chain consultancy, Amazon basically built a shipping system for the past three years, with about 70 express mail locations in 21 U.S. states and 44% of U.S. citizens within 20 miles An Amazon Express point, compared with only 5% in 2010 when this ratio.

In 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, maker of robotics, for $ 775 million, significantly improving Amazon’s logistics system. It is reported that by 2015, Amazon has increased the number of robots to 10,000 for the major centers in North America. Kiva systems operate 2-4 times more efficiently than traditional logistics operations, robots run 30 miles an hour with 99.99% accuracy.

As early as December 2013, Amazon piloted the Prime Air unmanned courier service. Customer orders online, if the weight of 5 pounds or less, you can choose to delivery drones, courier delivered home within 30 minutes. The whole process of unmanned, unmanned aerial vehicles in the logistics center line automatically pick the end, direct flight to customers.

This year, Amazon also announced the launch of “Shipping with Amazon” in Los Angeles and Fedex, UPS’s own courier service. The service will be delivered directly to third-party parcels sold on the platform and will be cheaper than the current UPS and FedEx. Therefore, after the news was released, the shares of FedEx and UPS dropped 1.7% and 2.6% respectively on the same day.

Moreover, Amazon is also the first company to promote big data to the e-commerce logistics platform. For example, Amazon took the lead in opening up a whole new “driverless” smart supply chain system in some markets, including China. Based on the data of cloud technology, big data analysis, machine learning and intelligent system, the system automatically predicts, automatically purchases, replenishes and automatically positions warehouses, and automatically adjusts the precise stock delivery according to the customer’s needs so as to automate the massive stock of goods , Accurate management, the whole process is almost zero manual intervention.

It is worth mentioning that, although Amazon has more than one other body in the logistics network leader, but the company did not stop the pace of their own innovation. For example, there is news that Amazon is developing a smart doorbell, hope that through this solution so that couriers can put parcels directly indoors, so as to solve the problem of package loss.


Electric car giant Tesla is in talks with SQM, Chile’s largest lithium producer, on the supply of raw materials for lithium batteries. The Chilean side said Tesla may agree to set up a processing plant in the country to produce the high quality lithium needed for its batteries. If the supply contract and construction plan to succeed, then this will be Tesla first set foot in the field of lithium battery raw materials.

According to the current news, the negotiations between the two sides are still in their infancy and it is unclear what kind of cooperation will eventually be made. But Tesla’s idea is that the company invests in lithium-processing technology to extract lithium, a raw material for car batteries, from brine in Chile’s desert and may even bring a partner to make a negative battery in Chile.

Like the cobalt material mentioned above, the price of lithium material, an upstream resource for the EV industry, has tripled since 2015. In addition to Tesla, global automakers are beginning to lock in the supply of lithium raw materials to expand the production scale of their own electric vehicles.

For example, Toyota Tsusho, a Japanese toyota group that oversees investment and trading operations, recently agreed to pay 282 million Australian dollars for a 15% stake in Australian lithium miner Orocobre, which will be used to expand Orocobre’s carbonated The annual production capacity of lithium is expected to increase by 143% from 17,500 tons in 2017 to 42,500 tons.

In addition, Tesla’s existing range of models also have ultra-luxury supply chains worldwide. In its powertrain system, electric drive system, charging the three major systems, a total of 38 direct suppliers. Among them, there are five Japanese companies, all of which are in the lithium battery pack, covering lithium batteries, positive electrodes, negative electrodes, electrolytes and separators; 21 Chinese enterprises have become direct suppliers; two in Taiwan; two in the United States, including Tesla Itself; one in Mexico and two in the EU. In addition, there are 30 companies in Tesla indirect suppliers list.

Only, compared to the company’s engineering feat in products, Tesla’s supply chain sometimes chain out. Recently, workers were forced to hand-craft Model 3 parts by supply shortages and robot production failures, partly due to the complex global supply chain environment owned by the Model 3 models.