Detroit Automakers Tell Employees: Keep Working, From Home If You Can

GM, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler | March 13, 2020

All three major Detroit carmakers issued a similar set of directions for their workers on Friday, March 13: Keep working, but do it at home if possible. The first to issue the directive was Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. On March 12, FCA reported a worker at their Kokomo, Indiana plant had tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Later that day, a spokesperson for FCA told Bloomberg News that the Italian-American carmaker had issued directions to all office employees to quarantine themselves and work remotely. The next day, both GM and Ford put out statements with similar directions: employees who can keep working from home should do so, effective Monday, March 16. CEOs Mary Barra of GM and Jim Hackett of Ford wrote memos to their employees, directing them to take relevant equipment home and stay in touch with their supervisors.

Spotlight

While the memories are painfully fresh, the data would suggest that the Great Recession has come to an end. The housing market has finally addressed the huge inventories (peaking at 12.2 months in January 2009) left by the subprime mortgage market collapse, and the resultant lockup of credit and growth-killing pessimism has finally abated to some extent.


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MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY

ADDING MULTIMEDIA Danfoss Power Solutions and RISE™Robotics Collaborate on a New Innovation

RISE™ROBOTICS | May 16, 2022

Danfoss Power Solutions and RISE™Robotics announce they’ve signed a collaboration agreement to jointly validate and test a key innovation that has the potential to transform the heavy machinery market through electrification. Danfoss Power Solutions, a leading global supplier of mobile and industrial hydraulics as well as electric powertrain systems, and RISE™Robotics, a leading zero-emission heavy machinery company, have formalized their collaborative relationship. The two businesses have signed an agreement to work together to validate the latest electromechanical actuator technology from RISE™. This new partnership is an example of how both companies prioritize innovation and find new ways to meet the increasing demand for electrification solutions coming from current and prospective customers. “It’s an exciting opportunity to work with RISE™Robotics to accelerate the development of solutions that have the potential to create near-term, low-carbon options for our customers,” said Danfoss Power Solutions President Eric Alström. “We’re taking bold steps to battle climate change and help customers around the world decarbonize. Electrification is a critical enabler to the Green Transition, and we’re thrilled to be on this journey with RISE™.” “We are delighted to collaborate with Danfoss, Innovation isn’t for everyone, but at Danfoss, innovation is at the core of their DNA. Their speed of decision-making is electric. Their engineering and global manufacturing capabilities lead the way." RISE™Robotics CEO Arron Acosta The RISE™Cylinder (US Patent 11255416, patent pending: WO2019/014259) is a fluid-free, electromechanical alternative to hydraulic cylinders for heavy equipment and machinery. It helps address the battery-electrification challenges inherent in hydraulic systems by delivering hydraulic-like forces at unprecedented efficiency, precision, speed, and weight. “RISE™’s unwavering dedication to commercializing scalable solutions enabled by advanced technology is the same pioneering spirit that has fueled Danfoss’ journey from startup to industry leader,” added Alström. “We look forward to working toward these goals together.” About Danfoss: Danfoss engineers advanced technologies that enable us to build a better, smarter and more efficient tomorrow. In the world’s growing cities, we ensure the supply of fresh food and optimal comfort in our homes and offices, while meeting the need for energy-efficient infrastructure, connected systems and integrated renewable energy. Our solutions are used in areas, such as refrigeration, air conditioning, heating, motor control and mobile machinery. Our innovative engineering dates back to 1933 and today Danfoss holds market-leading positions, employing 40,000 and serving customers in more than 100 countries. We are privately held by the founding family. Read more at www.danfoss.com About RISE™Robotics: Founded in 2011 by graduates of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), RISE™Robotics is a high-growth technology company backed by The Engine, a Tough Tech venture capital fund built by MIT, Greentown Labs, and Techstars. RISE™Robotics is leading the way to zero-emission heavy machinery by providing the world’s most efficient and productive alternative to hydraulics. Designed for medium and heavy-duty applications, RISE™Technology provides fuel, emissions, and sound reductions, improves productivity, and extends machine life.

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MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY

Freedom Electronics Completes Acquisition of ESCO

Freedom Electronics | June 09, 2022

Freedom Electronics (“Freedom”), a portfolio company of Summit Park, is pleased to announce the acquisition of ESCO Services, Inc. (“ESCO Michigan”) and ESCO Manufacturing, LLC (“ESCO Florida”) (collectively “ESCO” or “the Company”), a provider of aftermarket refurbished electronic parts with locations in Michigan, Colorado, and Florida. Founded in 1979, ESCO provides aftermarket refurbished electronic parts to distributors and service technicians, primarily serving the retail fueling and petroleum end markets. ESCO’s broad product offering, national presence, and excellent customer service have established ESCO as one of the premier providers of aftermarket electronic parts in the United States. Freedom, headquartered in Kennesaw, Georgia, is a leading aftermarket provider of electronic components, such as printers, screens, and card readers, for use in convenience stores and fueling stations (“c-stores”) across the U.S. and Canada. The combination of Freedom and ESCO creates the largest supplier of new and remanufactured aftermarket parts in the retail petroleum industry. ESCO is a very well-respected company with a long history. Both companies share the same values of providing outstanding customer service and a high level of urgency to our customers. We are confident that the combination will allow us to expand our relationships with many customers while allowing us to serve a much larger portion of their needs.” Patrick Jeitler, CEO of Freedom. Freedom and ESCO are an exciting combination because it establishes a national platform with leading technical capabilities, expanded sourcing relationships, and a diversified product portfolio driving a better customer experience. We continue to be bullish on the aftermarket in the retail petroleum space and think adding ESCO to Freedom positions the business very well going forward.” Mike York, a Partner at Summit Park. About Freedom Electronics Freedom offers over 2,300 electronic components used in fuel dispensers, retail point-of-sale systems, and automatic tank gauges. Through the Company’s best-in-class repair procedures, sourcing capabilities, and engineering expertise, Freedom is the most trusted partner to a national customer base, including retailers, parts distributors, and equipment service companies seeking quality, cost competitive electronic parts. In addition to its parts remanufacturing business, Freedom also provides a logistics and warehousing solution for customers’ electronic components inventory that minimizes downtime and ensures customers always have parts in stock. About Summit Park Summit Park is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based private investment firm focused exclusively on the lower middle market. The firm invests across a range of industries, including services, consumer, and industrial growth. The firm’s capital can be used to facilitate a change in ownership, to support expansion and growth, to provide partial liquidity to existing owners, or to support an industry consolidation plan. Currently, the firm is investing Summit Park III, a $245 million fund that closed in 2018.

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MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY

HWAFUNE Breaks Through Textile Difficulties with Porlite by Creating New Trends in Functional Fabrics

HWAFUNE | June 28, 2022

When mentioning Taiwan's traditional manufacturing, what pops into your head may be the textile industry. As a global hub for textile manufacturing, Taiwan has undergone significant changes over the past 30 years. Two of the most important changes are the relocation of industries to China and the government's New Southbound Policy. While Taiwanese textile manufacturers' decision to relocate is mainly driven by the need to reduce costs using cheap overseas labor, the rising labor costs in Southeast Asia have forced the manufacturers to constantly move their production to other regions, turning them into textile industry nomads. Despite these two relocation trends, HWAFUNE Textile which specializes in manufacturing functional fabrics has insisted on keeping production in Taiwan to provide reliable, high-quality products for esteemed customers. Instead of blindly pursing low costs and low prices through contract manufacturing and ending up in the red ocean, HWAFUNE Textile has strengthened the foothold of the Taiwanese textile industry in the global luxury market. One of the hot topics in the functional apparel market in recent years is the European Union's ban on fabrics containing PTFE. Currently, membranes made of PU, TPU, and PTFE account for the majority of functional apparels. With superior moisture permeability and breathability, PTFE has been adopted more widely than the other two materials. However, when heated to high temperatures during the manufacturing process, PTFE will generate PFOA which is classified as a possible human carcinogen. In addition, greenhouse gas is produced when fabrics containing this material are incinerated. Even if the fabrics are buried in landfills, PFOA will not decompose and will be washed into the ocean by rain. It then gets into the atmosphere via evaporation and is transported to everywhere by airflow or rain. PFOA has even been found in polar bears' livers. Considering the potential impact of the EU's ban on the clothing market and consumers' fear of toxic substances, upmarket brands have been looking for alternative functional fabrics. Therefore, HWAFUNE has joined hands with Phoenix Innovative Materials to develop the functional fabric brand Porlite, which has rapidly won the heart of high-end functional apparel brands. "In Light of Future Trends, HWAFUNE Develops Porlite Fabrics with Phoenix Innovative Materialsto take interest in PP membranes five years ago. Although HWAFUNE has the ability to mass produce fabrics featuring PTFE, PU, and TPU membranes, he believes PP membranes will become a trend in the functional apparel industry since the lifecycle of the material, from the production of the membrane and the manufacturing of the fabrics to the disposal of the clothing, is more in line with increased environmental awareness, I can guarantee that Porlite is capable of replacing existing functional fabrics and can fully address high-end brands' product development requirements" -Jackson Chang,ChairmanHWAFUNE. Turning the ambitious vision into reality is not easy. In the past three years, these two companies worked closely on the manufacturing, testing, and modification of the membrane. Besides functionality, HWAFUNE also considered the needs of consumers during testing, such as waterproof, moisture permeability, and even the appearances of the fabrics after washing. The reason that Chairman Chang is so committed is because he has put himself in consumers' shoes in the first place. He thinks environmental protection, safety, non-toxicity, and practicability should be combined perfectly. Product developers should not need to choose between them, nor should they force consumers to compromise on environmental protection, price, or quality. Dr. Chang, who is responsible for technology development at Phoenix Innovative Materials, explains the three major advantages of Porlite which is produced through non-toxic manufacturing processes in Taiwan. Firstly, there are 10 billion pores arranged in an orderly manner on the membrane. As the pores are smaller than water molecules and bigger than air molecules, the fabric can resist water penetration, even under pressure, while maintaining breathability. Moreover, since most outdoor exercises are relatively intense and will create a lot of sweat during the process, Porlite can also transport moisture from the clothing to the atmosphere by diffusion through the membrane, thus providing moisture permeability and breathability that no other functional apparel on market can achieve. Porlite Captures Top Brands' Heart with Non-Toxic Manufacturing, Sustainability, Fastness to Washing, and Moisture Permeability In line with the HWAFUNE's commitment to sustainability, the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) for Porlite can endure at least 30 laundering cycles and rain-resistant for period of time, thus providing a longer life span. Manufacturing in Taiwan is one of the main reasons that Porlite has won favor with Europe-based tier-one sportswear brands. The high quality enables Porlite to stand out from other competitors and meet customers' needs for upscale and reliable products. Both the PP membrane developed by Phoenix Innovative Materials and the Porlite fabric created by HWAFUNE are manufactured in Taiwan. Thanks to their insistence on domestic production, the companies have established a high-tech brand image for Taiwanese textile companies widely recognized by overseas esteemed customers. These are valuable experiences for both Phoenix Innovative Materials and HWAFUNE. Instead of pursuing short-term profits through contract manufacturing services, Chairman Chang and Dr. Chang spent five years developing the Porlite fabric whose overwhelming advantages for environmental protection and functionality have spoken for itself. The goal is to establish bio-based manufacturing processes by using natural materials such as weeds as raw materials and to provide biodegradable products in 10 years.

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Google Cloud Announces New Partnership with Global Fashion Retailer

Google Cloud | July 01, 2022

Google Cloud today announced a new partnership with global fashion retailer, H&M Group. The alliance will see the Swedish multinational leverage Google Cloud's extensive data analytics capabilities and secure, sustainable global infrastructure to further enhance its customer experience and supply chain enablement. Google Cloud will collaborate with H&M Group to develop an enterprise data backbone including a core data platform, data product, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. This will also include the establishment of a new data mesh to further make all types of data and events accessible from multiple sources including in-store, online, its brands ecosystem and suppliers. As the partnership develops, this will translate to increased optimisation of internal supply chains, as well as next-generation customer experiences across a variety of sales channels, from physical stores to ecommerce. What's more, this partnership will enable further development of data science and AI capabilities throughout H&M Group's business. H&M Group has a long history of innovation across all our brands and always wants to build meaningful relationships with our customers. We are now further accelerating digitalisation as we believe in sustainable growth powered by advanced analytics and tech. Therefore, I'm happy to announce we've found a provider who matches our needs. -Alan Boehme, Chief Technology Officer, H&M Group. We're delighted to announce this partnership, and look forward to working with H&M Group to create new and exciting customer experiences, whether that's in-store or online, concluded Eva Fors, Managing Director Google Cloud Nordic Region. We admire H&M Group's commitment to innovation and are excited to move forward in our journey together. About Google Cloud- Google Cloud accelerates every organisation's ability to digitally transform its business. We deliver enterprise-grade solutions that leverage Google's cutting-edge technology – all on the cleanest cloud in the industry. Customers in more than 200 countries and territories turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to enable growth and solve their most critical business problems.

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Spotlight

While the memories are painfully fresh, the data would suggest that the Great Recession has come to an end. The housing market has finally addressed the huge inventories (peaking at 12.2 months in January 2009) left by the subprime mortgage market collapse, and the resultant lockup of credit and growth-killing pessimism has finally abated to some extent.

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