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May 21, 2019

The Role of ERP in globalisation

Nowadays, more and more organisations provide products and services globally. They operate in different countries and in different locations; Also they have their manufacturing plants, regional sales offices, distribution centre, national, regional and global headquarters throughout the world. However, it brings the challenges for ERP, like legal and business principles of the country, multi-currency operations, language barrier (especially in developing countries).

The role of ERP is to use all available organisation resources efficiently. In general, it ensures flexibility of the company and creates the environment for achieving core competence of the organisations. Also, it can be identified as the critical component of corporate globalisation strategies and be required to satisfy the demands of support functionalities in a global environment- such as intercompany stock transfer, software localisation.

The survey from the Gartner Research study had identified that 70% of organisations desired to operate a single global ERP system. However, a centralised ERP solution is slow to implement in a global environment. And the company may have to change their existing IT solutions- from many to one, which requires a large amount of time. As a result, a better choice for the companies two-tier ERP solution, which means the company can use one core ERP with another solution from same vendor for subsidiaries or one core ERP with other solution from another one vendor.

Mengyun Hu (1862091)


May 10, 2019

ERP starts with Business Process: Standardization?

Business Process is a prerequisite of ERP. Standardized process is a integral part of it.

Then, there comes the perception: standardization would quite often limit the flexibility. However, Hammer and Stanton; quite oppositely, proposed standardization would enable flexibility in the way of allocating personels with less training effort. The reason for this would be explained through the controlled and uncontrolled dynamics. For the controlled dynamics, flexibility can be achieved through standardization.

To enrich the arguement, there would be another factor that impact on this. It is the learning curve of learning experience. While standardization allows un-trained employee to execute different tasks in different roles successfully (which means flexibility), the learning curve in this situation would be barely achieved. People gain experience through learning curve by doing a same task in a period of time. Unfixed and changing tasks could cause confusion for staff and inhibit the learning curve. When standardized process links with role & responsibilty, the learning curve should be considered. Process standardization, if promoting flexibility, would obmit the value of the learning curve.

Nguyen, Le Thang (1760903)


August 04, 2016

Ownership and Liability

Welcome back all!


This month the discussion will be around the topic of traction battery ownership and liability. This is an important topic when considering implementing circular economy principles such as remanufacturing.

Reverse logisitics

If we consider the reverse logistics return channels (illustrated in the above figure) for and EV to the Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), the owner of the battery can change as it moves through the reverse channels. The producer responsibility as set out below does not change. The changing of ownership throughout the battery’s life could make tracking the producer down more challenging if labels are damaged, lost or changed and battery itself also changed in some way.


Producer Responsibility


Under the definitions in various pieces of European and UK legislation such as the Batteries Directive, the batteries in electric vehicles are classified as Industrial Batteries. The EU’s Directive 2006/66/EC [dated 6th September 2006] on Batteries and Accumulators and Waste Batteries and Accumulators set out the initial set of regulations for batteries. The Batteries legislation aims to make producers responsible for the costs of dealing with their batteries.
Thus it is important to understand who is the owner and who is the producer of the battery at the point were the End-of-Life decision is made as the owner have the right to send an EV traction battery for recycling without incurring any cost and the producer who is defined as the person that “puts the battery on the market for the first time” will be responsible for the cost of the battery. It is also important to understand who the owner is in the reverse logistics supply chain to be able to gauge if any more value can be extracted from the battery. An example of this could be: If a battery reaches End-of-Life and it was leased the ownership falls to the producer of the battery, in this case the vehicle manufacturer, who could then make a decision to remanufacture the battery to capture value and avoid recycling cost. If the End-of-Life battery is under the ownership of the current vehicle owner they could sell it to a 3rd party remanufacturer, which could replace all the cells with a different chemistry and sell it on. In this case, the producer responsibility still falls to the vehicle manufacturer and they might have to deal with a battery at the end of the battery’s second life that contains cells with a unknown chemistry making recycling more risky and costly.
Thus considering who is liable and who owns it in the reverse logistics supply chain of End-of-Life EV traction batteries is important and needs careful consideration.

Until next time!

The ABACUS Team.


July 01, 2016

Battery Safety

Welcome back to the ABACUS Blog for the monthly update. In the month of July the topic of Safety for Lithium-ion batteries will be discussed.

In the forward and reverse logistics chain of a Lithium-ion battery, storing and handling the battery safely is of vital importance. Some of the pre-failure processes that needs to be managed and minimised through proper storage and handling in the supply chain are:

  • Cells being operated or stored in extreme temperatures (high temperature leading to modification of surface films on the electrodes, low temperature leading to the breakdown of adhesives causing anode to pull away from current collector)
  • Cell damage and defects that can cause internal short circuits leading to localised heating spots
  • High charge/discharge current during state-of-charge adjustment (Wheat=I2 * Zint)
  • Improper connections causing high resistance
  • Mechanical damage (Crash, Vibration, Mishandling)


In terms of safety for the people involved in the reverse logistics supply chain there are two scenarios to consider namely safety to prevent an event and safety to handle an event that occurred.

For safety to prevent an event there are three things that I want to highlight:

1. In the UK the Heatlh and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Health and Safety in the workplace act of 1974 created a guide for handling batteries safely. Also, for High Voltage (HV) batteries with DC voltages greater than 50V it is important to be certified to work with HV equipment and HV training is essential for making a traction Lithium-ion battery safe.

2. Safe packaging requirements for transportation is covered under the ADR regulations in the EU but no proper international standards or guides exist for proper storage for Lithium-ion batteries that I am aware of.

3. Appropriate State-of-Charge (SoC) of the cell when put into storage needs to be considered. Some of the factors to consider when adjusting a cell's state-of-charge for storage are the following:

  • How long can the cells be stored for? (shelf life) - the cell's self-discharge rate and storage temperature needs to be considered carefully to ensure cell do not reach a SoC level that is two low and can damage the cell. Higher temperatures will cause the self-discharge rate to increase.
  • Transport requirements: For example from 1 April 2016 all Lithium-ion battery packs shipped by air under IATA package instruction 965 must be at no more than 30% state of charge due to the possibility of cells or batteries in a higher state of charge could reach more violently if damaged or abused.


For safety to handle an event the following is worth noting:

  • There are first responder guides available for various vehicle brands at http://www.evsafetytraining.+org/resources.aspx. The issues with the guides are that the responders are guided to cut the 12V line and from a testing point of view and ADR transport regulation point of view this makes verifying the status of the battery more difficult.
  • Procedures to make batteries safe after venting or fire such as to put it in a salt water bath to discharge the battery because damaged packs need to be rendered safe before transportation. This destructive approach has major limitations as it does not guarantee the pack is safe and produces toxic gas and corrosive lithium chloride with undesirable environmental consequences.


Thus it is important to carefully consider all the safety aspects when working with lithium batteries and to have a clearly defined mitigation plan to prevent incidents.

Until next time!



May 31, 2016

EU Circular Economy Package

In December 2015 the European Commission published documents on proposals for a package of legislative measures in which the EU sets out plans for promoting a Circular Economy.They also have this nice video on how the circular economy works with some business examples. So please follow the link and have a look:

EU Circular Circular Economy Video

Until next time!


April 29, 2016

Motivations

Hi All,

Can't believe it is end of April already! I recently visited the SAE World Congress in Detroit and it was exciting to see that next year the theme will be focusing on Environment and Sustainablility!

Due to missing a blog entry in March, this blog entry will focus on some of the motivations why more circular economy principles need to be considered for End-of-Life Lithium-ion Electric Vehicle batteries.

There are five main drivers for looking into a more circular economy for batteries namely: Cost, Environment, Social considerations, legislation and the market.

Significant cost savings can be achieved by businesses in the European Union, up to 600 billion Euro according to the EU's ambitious circular economy package announced at the end of 2015. Another potential high cost that could be mitigated by applying a Circular Economy End-of-Life strategy such as remanufacturing is the high cost of lithium-ion battery disposal which can be approximately £3000/tonne which excludes costs for collection and transportation.

The main bits of legislation pertinent to Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicles are:

  • The Battery directive (Directive 2006/66/EC) which prohibits the disposal of automotive batteries and industrial batteries (which a EV battery pack is classed under) by means of landfill or incineration.
  • The EoL vehicle directive (Directive 2000/53/EC) also known as the End-of-life vehicles (ELV) directive specifies measures which aim to prevent waste from vehicles at the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery stages of End-of-Life vehicles and their components to reduce the disposal of waste. The directive also states that from January 2015 85% of average vehicle weight has to be reused or recycled.

The Batteries directive puts a responsibility on the Producer (defined as the person that puts the battery on the market for the first time) to carry the disposal cost when the battery reaches End-of-Life. The directive states that the customer must be able to dispose of the battery free of charge. This legislation could potentially have a large impact on the business model and End-of-Life strategies of Original Equipment Manufacturers and is a big motivation for companies to consider a more circular approach.

There are also potential enviromental benifits when moving to a more Circular Economy as highlighted by D. Parker and P. Butler “An Introduction to Remanufacturing” 2007, and state that to date remanufacturing in other sectors in the UK has avoiding the use of 270,000 tonnes of raw material and the release 800,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The potential social benefits include the creation of 300,000 skilled jobs to local communities as highlighted in the UK government's Triple Win Report on remanufacturing.

The last driver for considering more Circular Economy based End-of-Life Strategies is the EV Market size which is increasing year-on-year in EU with predicted sales of 25% of new cars sold in 2025 and with Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) up from 1708 new car registrations to over 10000 in 2015 according to the SMMT. Also, for the first time in 2015 ULEVs accounted for more than 1% of total UK market according to a UK government review on ULEV uptake in the UK.


Hopefully this provides some food for thought.

Until next time!


April 20, 2016

Compare BI and ERP

As th time for age of big data is coming, how to manage mass of data and find the useful information in mass of date is the developing way. Now, big data in business have two developement directions--Business Intellengence (BI) and Enterprise Resource Planning. Now I want talk about the diffrence and common compaired BI and ERP.

BI canbe discrbed as "a set of techniques and tools for the acquisition and transformation od raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis perpose", BI fucus on data management. The main fuction of BI is through import data from other systems (ERP data is one of database fro BI) and export the data analysis sumarize. Gnerally speaking, BI can divided three parts. The three parts respetivily are data warehouse (numerous centralized storage of data); data extraction (with extraction tools to find the needed data from data warehouse); and front-end display (such as report, PDA).


Reference

Turner,Dawn M. "What is Venture Management".


Yanjun Wang (1550539)


Extended ERP

In the internet era, there is an intense competition of business occurring in the means of using information technology to increase the efficiency of the operational and management aspects in organizations. Therefore, changing the strategy toward e-businesses have to adapt the usage of ERP system which could share functions and communication to partners and customers. In addition, it has to develop data evaluating method and interface in order to connect processes for the bonding between ERP and external organization sites. E-business is a kind of business that have a rapid changing in technology and trend, so quick gathering of the useful information is become more serious factor to gain the advantages in the market. Allowing people to easily access to the entrepreneur ERP system helps increase the accuracy of the data while reducing the analysis time for the strategy planning. Thus, the ERP system is now extended to be developed together with the Thin Client or GUI (Graphic User Interface) to reduce the complexity in using the system. This allow the end-users or suppliers to input the data into the system and connect directly to the business. For the users with in organization, the extended ERP creates the convenience in access and interpret the data for analytical usages and reduce learning curve of the system. There are three main advantages of Extended ERP. First is the integration by using ERP-based can centralized between software such as SCM, CRM, and E-commerce, only one input of information can be pulled out for various usage. Moreover, the extended ERP also creates the supply chance network with organizations as center, connecting suppliers’ and customers’ operation with SCM and CRM respectively. Finally, Internet Protocol (IP) and Web application create the system that allow the online access to the data base of organizations, not only by the employees but also partners, suppliers and consumers. The sharing of information both internally and externally all type of business to occur virtually in the world of internet.

Chonlada Han-ong-art

Karl M. Kapp, William F. Latham, Hester N. Ford-Latham. Integrated learning for ERP success: a learning requirements planning approach. Boca Raton: The St. Lucie Press; 2001.

Mahesh gupta, Amarpreet kohli. Enterprise resource planning systems and its implications for operations function. Technovation 2006; 687-696.


April 19, 2016

Modules integration

Rapid and efficient flow of streams of information is a prerequisite for the smooth functioning of logistics processes. It is also important to note that the introduction of computerized information processes created an entirely new quality. This also applies to the logistics, where many functions are associated with various transition of information. Modern IT systems support the process of production planning at many levels, from the moment of the generation of orders by customers through the purchase of raw materials, storage of raw materials in the warehouse, production of the finished item with subsequent storage, picking, to delivery to the customer. Having an opportunity to work with ERP system alongside with appropriate modules it is possible to plan, control and manage resources.

However, chosen ERP system may have very good Shop Floor control module but insufficient Advanced Warehousing module. Very advanced Transportation Management module may not go with ‘decent’ Requirements Planning module or Purchasing Module. On the other hand, ERP can offer various modules where functional advancement can be there, however company requires very advanced Requirements Planning module as this is key strategic component of their success.

To me the question stands; how big risk is to ‘move’ specific functionalities to 3rd party systems. Is it good idea to create all necessary interfaces for the ERP to be able to communicate with second system or is it usually better to try to keep as many modules as possible from one provider. The benefit of second option is seamless integration, no interfaces, less risk (especially at implementation phase). Obviously answer would be different for each company. But we need to be prepare for choice we possibly would need to make at some point. Should we sacrifice functionality for benefit of seamless integration? Should we pay more for unused functionalities for some modules to use integrated system which is outstanding in single, strategic way? Or should we choose customization path?

Oliwia Lewandowska


April 17, 2016

challenge of mobile ERP

The ubiquity of the smartphone might lead the ERP system to a new application. In some aspects, companies are willing to applicate the new technology. For example, it is benefit for companies if personnel are willing to provide their technology for business things.

However, some challenges appear for IT people. the main concerns are security and two main compatibility. It is difficult to control personal devices and prevent the devices form hight risks way of personal usage habit. in addition, two compatibility environment, iSO and Adroid, and variations of Android from all the phone manufacturers make mobile ERP more complex. How to cope with the new version of operating system and how to update without interfering business work are issues for the IT people.

The application of moblie ERP still have many restrictions at this time. However, the technology of moblie ERP application is gradually matured and the barriers to use mobile ERP is reducing. It is possible that the usage of mobile ERP will increase faster than expectation.


Bo-Hsiang Chang



April 10, 2016

Integrated Cloud based ERP for SME'S

SME'S in the developing nations are the most aggressive adopters of ERP to their business process. The online server hosted off the site is best suited for such growing SME's because the payment needs to be made in accordance with their need and usage. Using a cloud-based ERP server reduces the capital expenditure by not investing money in the server infrastructure.

When the different functions of ERP such as CRM,HR etc. are hosted in different clouds, separate administration of different systems costs time and money. The use of the required function in an integrated cloud reduces the expense and increases the efficiency of the business process. The server and software package providers pitch their marketing skills to which SME's fall as a bait which ends up making the business go the downward spiral.

To be successful and to outgrow the competitors every business has to deliver the highest quality on time and quickly possible at the cheapest cost. Hence, every SME who is the planning stage on wheater to adopt an ERP package should think in detail of what the outcome and benefits would be in a long run


Arjun Sunil Kumar


March 28, 2016

The Role of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in the Business Process Re–engineering (BPR):

The fast movement in the technological world and the new systems that have been developed though the time has played a significant role into re-engineering the business process within any organization. According to Soliman and Youssef (1998), the implementation of ERP is considered to be one of the fundamental element of the BPR process, where the others include objectives, radical change and the examination of the current process. Most companies used to employee IT to the present process, where BPR process needs a radical change to the process. Thus, the implementation of ERP systems is helpful in terms of changing the current process to be aligned with ERP system, which will meet the BPR objective as well as it will be more integrated and productive (Soliman and Youssef, 1998).

On the other hand, Baloglu (2005) suggested that the implementation of ERP systems needs to be aligned with the BPR projects, which will give employees time to accommodate of using the new system. Thus, training employees is an important element in the implementation of ERP and BPR, where might be fail if not applied sufficiently (Glykas, 2013).

References

Baloglu, A. (2005) Implementing SAP R/3 in the 21st Century: Methodology and Case Studies, Istanbul: Anatürkler Yayınevi.

Glykas, M. (2012) ‘Effects of business process reengineering on firm performance: an econometric analysis’ in Ozcelik, y. (ed.) Business Process Management: Theory and Applications. London: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 99-111.

Soliman, F. and Youssef, M. A. (1998) ‘The role of SAP software in business process re-engineering’. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 18 (9): 886 – 895.


ERP system and Internet of Things

In recent years, many ERP systems have competed each other by trying to provide the best solution for improving the business. After introducing cloud-based platform i.e. SAP HANA, Oracle ERP Cloud, Microsoft Dynamic cloud ERP and so on, they tried to seek for other new technologies to support the organisation. However, this article will only focus on SAP solution. While the user of internet has dramatically grown every year, and devices has become more and more intelligent. From SAP’s research, they found that the number of connected devices through the internet would be more than fifty billion by 2020. They expected that many physical objects would be able to communicate via the internet. The internet of things (IoT) can be defined as the integration of several technologies such as RFID, sensor, actuators, and wireless network (Atzori, Iera and Morabito, 2010).

 As last few year ago, SAP introduced an additional solution (IoT connector solution) which can use to connect sensor-based data with SAP HANA platform. This solution will combine data from automation devices and smart devices to perform a better retrospective and predictive analysis. Moreover, there are several benefits that the organisation can gain from these technologies solution.

  • Improve efficiency, sustainability, quality, and safety
  • Increase decision-making performance
  • Improve decentralised data consistency
  • Reduce operation cost
  • Simplify software integration

Although, this solution may not be suitable for every business, there are some businesses can use it to improve their processes such as manufacturing, supply chain integrity, energy, health service and so on. But, they still have some major technical issues that require to consider. For example, Internet scalability, identification and addressing of the network, heterogeneity technologies (Haller, Karnouskos and Schroth, 2008).


Atzori, L., Iera, A. and Morabito, G. (2010). The Internet of Things: A survey. Computer Networks, 54(15), pp.2787-2805.

Haller, S., Karnouskos, S. and Schroth, C. (2008). The Internet of Things in an Enterprise Context. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp.14-28.

SAP. (2016). IoT Platform | Internet of Things Applications | SAP HANA. [online] Available at: http://go.sap.com/product/technology-platform/iot-platform-cloud.html.


Chompassorn Pholtanasak (1465063)


February 19, 2016

Video about why consider electric vehicle battery remanufacturing

Here is just a short video clip I put together for fun about electric vehicle remanufacturing. Enjoy!

Why consider EV battery remanufacturing?


February 02, 2016

Best practice benchmarking – What are the other companies doing?

Happy new year and welcome to the ABACUS blog! This month the discussion will be around what End-of-Life (EoL) options Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturers are currently considering.

Circular economy

When moving from a take-make-dispose business model to a more circular model as shown in the picture above, several EoL options are at businesses disposal to implement namely reuse or re-purposing in a different application to the one the battery was originally designed for, reconditioning, remanufacturing or recycling. In order to benchmark the current best practice the EoL options for the main players in the EV sector needs to be reviewed.

A recent article on the insideEV website (http://insideevs.com/2015-bev-sales-in-europe-by-end-of-october-with-top-countries-models/) mentioned the top-selling EVs in Europe. The top 5 in 2015 were: Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Tesla model S, VW e-Golf and the BMW i3. Currently the EoL options for these vehicles are:

Nissan Leaf

4R Approach: Re-use, Re-sell, Re-fabricate, Recycle. Joint venture between Nisan and Sumitomo: Grid storage for homes and businesses


Warranty: Car is 3 years or 60,000 miles and battery pack is covered if the battery pack range goes below 9 out of the 12 bars displayed on your dashboard, over a period of 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Renault Zoe

Recycling strategy: Deciding between Pyrometallurgical treatment or Hydrometallurgical treatment

Warranty: Car is 4 years or 100,000 miles and battery is 5 years or 100,000 miles
Battery Pack Lease option: £93 pm for 36 month contract and 12000 miles so 9.3c per mile
If 21000 miles for 36 month contract it is £149 pm so 14.9c per mile.

Tesla Model S

Recycling Program: Closed loop battery pack recycling-closed loop of material use involves manufacturing of battery cells, assembly into battery packs, then vehicles, and finally, recycling into raw materials for future use.
60% of battery pack (battery pack refined into nickel, aluminium, copper, cobalt to make lithium cobalt oxide to re-sell to battery module/pack manufacturers and by-products is used in making construction material) is recycled by Kinsbursky Brothers Inc and Toxco, 10% is re-used (electronics are removed and tested to determine if they can be re-used).

Warranty: 4 year, 50,000 mile (whichever comes first) new vehicle limited warranty, 8 year, 125,000 mile (whichever comes first) battery pack and drive unit warranty for 60 kWh battery pack equipped Model S, 8 year, unlimited mile battery pack and drive unit warranty for 85 kWh battery pack equipped Model S, Both battery pack warranties cover damage from improper charging procedures and battery fire, even if the fire results from driver error.

VW e-Golf

Recycling strategy: Only specifies recycling for material recovery (lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese), no details about process were given.


Warranty: 3-year/60,000 miles warranty (whichever is first), a 3-year paintwork warranty and a 12-year body protection warranty. The Battery has a guarantee for eight years or 99,360 miles (whichever comes first) on all material or manufacturing defects.

BMW i3

Reuse: BMW and Vatttenfall collaboration to use EOL battery packs to store solar energy at EV charging stations.


Warranty: 8 year/100,000 mile high-voltage battery pack warranty as standard, along with the 3 year unlimited mileage vehicle warranty.

From the examples above it is clear that the current EoL option of choice is the recycling route. Current recycling are either using a Pyrometallurgy based or Hydrometallurgy based process.

In recent years various projects investigating second life applications have been undertaken. OEMs like BMW announced a project looking into second life applications for EoL batteries. Nissan also anounced a project that will utilise used vehicle batteries in stationary storage. Toyota is also running a project in Yellowstone investigating energy storage using second life batteries. Tesla on the other hand announced products for the energy storage market using new cells.

As evident from above, the investigation into remanufacturing EoL batteries and reusing the batteries in the applications they were originally designed for is limited. In the upcoming Blog entries we will be focusing the discussion around relevant themes for EV battery remanufacturing.

Until next time...


November 11, 2015

And so it begins…

Welcome to the Abacus blog and welcome to November 2015. This is the first blog entry to introduce the topics that will be discussed over the next coming months. The following months will be dedicated to discuss the eight research themes that the project identified by considering the reverse logistics value chain for an Electric Vehicle (EV) battery and highlighting potential barriers to extending the in-use life of the EV battery.

The motivation behind EV battery in-use life extension stems from the need to adopt a move from the traditional take-make-dispose business model to a circular model due to legislation such as the Battery directive and the End-of-Life (EoL) vehicle directive. The Battery directive (Directive 2006/66/EC) prohibits the disposal of automotive batteries and industrial batteries (which include EV battery packs) by means of landfill or incineration. The EoL vehicle directive (Directive 2000/53/EC) also known as the End-of-life vehicles (ELV) directive specifies measures which aim to prevent waste from vehicles at the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery stages of EoL vehicles and their components to reduce the disposal of waste. The ELV directive measures have two components - it set out quantified targets for reuse, recycling and recovery and also pushes producers to manufacture new vehicles without hazardous substances that prohibits reuse, recycling and recovery of waste vehicles. More information about the directives can be found at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32006L0066 and http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32000L0053 and will also be discussed further in the Ownership and Liability blog entry.

The value chain that includes the reverse logistics for an EV involves many stakeholders including the battery pack manufacturer, EV manufacturer, EV dealer, customer, remanufacturer, Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF), Approved battery Exporter (ABE), and the Approved Battery Treatment Operator (ABTO). The research themes identified in the project are:

  • Best practice benchmarking - What are the other companies doing?
  • Safety
  • Testing
  • Transport and Storage
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • Ownership and Liability
  • IP

So in the upcoming months each of these topics and the opportunities and barriers for the relevant stakeholders will be discussed in the blog posts. We hope you find it informative and useful!

Until next time…

The ABACUS team.


September 10, 2015

Studying at the University of Warwick… An Incredible Journey…(Part 2)

Writing about web page https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/education/wmgmasters/why/student_profiles/carlos-serra

Carlos Serra, MSc Programme and Project Management WMG graduate has been telling us about his experience of coming to the UK - leaving his job, his home country of Brazil, his culture and everything he knew so well. It was an adventure of changes for him and his wife Suelem.

In the last blog, we learnt about when he first moved to the UK, his expectations before he came, and the rather different but pleasant reality of when he arrived.

In this blog, we continue on his journey as he talks about study and life at Warwick...

Part 2: Studying... and So Much More!


Carlos had thought hard about his year ahead and what he planned to achieve. Before even coming to the UK, he already had an idea about the research topic he wanted to cover in his MSc project and was prepared for many hours of study. But, so much more than just study awaited him, he came across a number of learning opportunities that he did not expect…

Study Focus...

carlos_serra_Studying

Soon after enrolling at the university and commencing his studies, he had the opportunity to select his project supervisor from a wide range of areas; it allowed him to have an expert in the subject he wanted to research. This was really important to Carlos in ensuring he was well supported in studying his chosen project.

Besides the required support for his research project, Carlos found the teaching methods far above his expectations. Class time in modules consisted of real-to-life simulations, exercises, workshops and group activities. Between modules, the in-module practical experience was combined with in-depth study, requiring the research of papers, the reflection and a critical analysis. He said he had never seen a similar model in Brazil and found these methods of learning to be so important for the development of a student’s personal judgment with respect to each theme. Furthermore, the simulations with different people of different nationalities and cultures provided a unique opportunity to experience and develop an understanding of working in multicultural environments.

Keeping the balance...

More than studying 10 hours a day, Carlos embraced the opportunities available at Warwick to combine his study with sporting, social and cultural activities. The activities available at the university’s sports centre amazed Carlos and his wife, offering dozens of sports including some very unusual in their country such as gliding, climbing, sword-play, among others. Carlos a sportsman, enjoyed swimming, weight training and Jiu Jitsu at the centre.

The university also offered many cultural activities such as weekly trips to other cities through the International Office, hundreds of interest

carlos_serra_angled_photos.001

societies to join at the Student’s Union, a diverse agenda of events and performances at Warwick Arts Centre, plus a cinema, two nightclubs and several restaurants, cafes and bars, all located within the university campus.

Cultural activities and sports offered even more opportunity for integrating with people from other cultures which was an extra learning experience for Carlos which he found to be a very beneficial experience and enjoyable alongside his studies.

The Life of a Student's Wife at Warwick...

Whilst most students coming to study at Warwick are often travelling here alone, in moving to the UK from Brazil, Carlos's wife Suelem came with him for the journey. So for anyone who may be bringing their family with them, she gave us some of her thoughts on what life at Warwick was like, from the perspective of a supportive wife during Carlos's studies;

"For an entire year, Carlos’s life was focused on studying. I had to get used to not always having him around whilst he spent days and evenings in the library. But I took the opportunity to look for activities for personal and professional development. I took English courses, volunteering activities, temporary work and even started to develop a business plan based on opportunities that I'd identified during the year. It was actually a very good period for our relationship, I had more time to devote to Carlos and to myself, something that was often forgotten about in Brazil given the demands of our professional lives.

The year together in the UK was often challenging, I missed my busy work life a lot, as well as her family and friends. But, with our determination and willingness, it was an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both of us. So, if you are thinking about coming to the UK with your spouse, do not hesitate!


Since studying at WMG, Carlos's career has gone from strength to strength. He has worked his way up working in Senior Project Management positions in companies including Venture Information Management, Lloyd's Register Energy and currently works as PMO Lead for Gazprom Marketing and Trading.

The research he undertook for his MSc project has proved very successfully. He has delivered presentations of his research at various conferences and it has featured in papers and articles. He is now in the final stages of writing his own book based on his research which is currently being considered for publication.

Suelem is also doing well. Since Carlos graduated, she spent over a year working in the recruitment industry in London and has since gained UK qualifications in HR. She is now CIPD level 5 qualified and is working as a Senior Global Recruiter for SGS, a Swiss organisation with over 80,000 employees all around the world, which provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Due to her multicultural skills in HR and Recruitment, she was tasked to travel to Angola and Brazil to implement global recruitment processes in the local offices, to meet client organisations and to do business development.

Read more about Carlos Serra and his on-going journey.

(This blog was taken from an article written on Studyinuk.universiablogs.net, 2012)


September 08, 2015

Welcome to the ABACUS Project!

Welcome to the blog of the innovAtive Business models and design Approaches for extending the in-serviCe battery life of fUture low carbon vehicleS (ABACUS) project.

The ABACUS project is directly aligned with the research challenge of preserving the value of products at end-of-life and keeping them in productive use for longer. The consortium is led by Jaguar Land Rover and includes G+P Batteries, Potenza Technology and the University of Warwick – WMG. The ABACUS project aims to achieve a waste stream reduction of 50%-70% through new business models and new innovative approaches to battery system design that (a) support the in-service life of the battery and (b) extend its productive life beyond first vehicle installation. The project will define the complete value chain for the battery. It will identify key breakpoints, for example when it is economical to service, test, recover, remanufacture and redeploy the battery. The project will address the strategic need for accurate and easily obtained data for driving commercial decisions that are economically viable and environmentally sustainable. For the first time, strategic circular economy principles such as prevention, modularity, re-purposing and re-manufacture will be embedded with traditional automotive targets for reduced product cost, weight and volume.

The aim of this blog is to disseminate useful knowledge about Electric Vehicle (EV) battery remanufacturing and make it available to all the stakeholders.


August 17, 2015

Studying at the University of Warwick… An Incredible Journey… (Part 1)

Writing about web page https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/education/wmgmasters/why/student_profiles/carlos-serra

Life at Warwick, by WMG Graduate Carlos Serra

Carlos Serra studied the MSc in Programme and Project Management at WMG from 2011 to 2012.
He has since gone onto be extremely successful working on a number of projects.
As the new year academic year approaches and the journey begins for a new community of WMG students, Carlos looked back to when he first came to WMG and his move from sunny Brazil to the UK.


Part 1: Breaking the Misconceptions… Life in the UK

Carlos and Suelem in Snow

“It was September 2011, and life was about to change for a young couple from Brazil…

Carlos Serra and his wife Suelem, left Brazil for “an adventure”. They left their jobs in Rio de Janeiro to cross the Atlantic in search of personal and professional development in the UK. In October, Carlos would start a Master’s Degree in Programme and Project Management at the University of Warwick, whilst Suelem planned to do a course in English language and undertake some volunteer work whilst her husband was studying.

The year ahead was one of hard work, success and much learning for both of them.

Culture Surprise...

Before he left Brazil, Carlos said he was very excited to have the chance to study with people from ten or fifteen different countries. But to his surprise, he found himself studying with more than 60 different nationalities, with representatives from almost all continents, races, religions, languages and cultures. He says he found himself very impressed with how much he had to break stereotypes in respect to any previous ideas that he had about other nationalities. From his experiences, he says to students coming to university in the UK, to

“Come with an open mind, willing to learn about different customs and behaviours and to also teach how things are in your own country, because that experience can be equally as rewarding as many of your lectures”

Morrisons Fruit and Veg

According to him, it was only through living and working with such people and experiencing first-hand these different cultures that he could truly learn and understand knowledge that television, newspapers or even books could not provide. In return, he taught a lot about Brazil to fellow students and helped to correct many misconceptions, for example, that in Brazil people do not speak Spanish, but only Portuguese.


Food, glorious food...

As food is part of the cultural experience, he told us about his ‘gastronomic’ experiences!

Carlos said, when planning his stay in the UK, many people in Brazil told him he would spend the entire year eating fish and chips - well-known as the most traditional of British foods! Moreover, people believed that he would have to spend a lot of money in order to eat properly, because fruit and vegetables would be very scarce and expensive! So before coming to the UK, Carlos and his wife were very worried about their diet and what was to come!

But, to their surprise, the perceptions could not have been more wrong!
They found the English supermarkets selling food from all over the world, often at prices more affordable than in Brazil! Most restaurants also offered food at very affordable prices. Therefore, one of Carlos's and Suelem’s hobbies was trying different dishes and drinks. Then, they suggested other people to come, and willed them to try new flavours and ingredients.

Carlos Feijoada

Besides learning and having food from different countries, and nearly putting on weight for “willing to learn too much at the time”, the couple cooked and shared with friends a Brazilian dish, Feijoada (black beans cooked with pork). It was their opportunity to share a bit of Brazil and show their cooking abilities. Those lucky friends are awaiting their next invitation to a night of Feijoada!

The cultural experiences of the couple was most definitely an important part of their experience in the UK, but what about the British people? According to the couple, another thing that people used to talk about in Brazil was that the British people are very ‘cold’. Carlos and his wife arrived in England ready to face temperatures near zero degrees and a very impersonal treatment!

It was quite the opposite! People in the UK were welcoming, friendly and warm. “British people are very sincere, sometimes even too honest for Carlos and Suelem who were so used to the way of Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro - always avoiding conflicts and trying to find solutions for every situation”. They said that when a British person says yes or no, it means yes or no, it didn’t mean “perhaps”. They said it was good to be straight forward, you knew where you stood and had realistic expectations.

The only cold came with the winter. A shopping trip for a new set of warm clothes was required to withstand low winter temperatures.

Keep posted for part 2 of the blog to find out about Carlos's thoughts on his studies and how he kept a good study-life balance...

(This blog was taken from an article written on Studyinuk.universiablogs.net, 2012)


July 08, 2015

Follow your career dream and make the jump!

Did you know that people spend more time planning a holiday than they do planning their career?

make_the_jump.jpg

It was particularly true when I was a postgraduate student at Warwick, focusing mainly on planning an Easter holiday break as well as completing my dissertation. Thinking back, I wish I had started my career planning earlier AND received the amount of support now available to all MSc students!

The two dedicated Careers Advisors Siobhan and Esther gave a briefing session to WMG staff yesterday about recent careers service development. A few exciting career support services are under way, for example, a new ‘online international career Moodle’ with comprehensive information about jobs in different countries was indeed an opportunity too good to miss. Can you imagine working as a Project Engineer in Belgium? How about working to resolve the supply chain challenge for Mars China? The prospect of working for Intel in India? I am sure these opportunities will be very popular among our internationally minded students at WMG.

The reality is though, as a student you are so busy with your studies and try hard to experience all that life has got to offer. Whilst we recognise how busy students can be, we always pro-actively encourage them to make the most out of Careers and Skills’ online resources, job fairs, Master’s skills programme, one-to-one Careers support for CV checks, interview skills and job applications. Those who have taken time to meet with Siobhan and Esther have truly benefited from the one-to-one guidance and have started their job searching plans!

As Siobhan said, annual recruitment cycle starts very early. With some Graduate Schemes commence as early as November, getting a head start would certainly give you an advantage. However, for those who haven’t considered their career path just yet, the most important thing is – it is never too late to start! In light of this, Siobhan is going to hold WMG specific summer Careers Workshops at the end of July which covers career planning, tips for CV and Covering Letters and tackling job applications and interviews successfully. WMG SSLC representatives have also be rather active in promoting and engaging the 2014 cohort with all these fantastic opportunities.

At the end of the day, as a Guardian article points out, you would plan your holiday down to the last detail, so why not your career?

Don’t you agree?


October 09, 2013

An alumni's view of MBE

I post this reflection on his time in MBE with permission from the author. If you have any comments or questions that arise after reading this piece, please ask them here and I will respond.

Hello everyone,

My name is Jan from Germany and I am a former student of the WMG at the University of Warwick in 2010/2011.

I am writing this reflection more than one and a half years after I finished my studies in Management for Business Excellence (MBE). I am still in contact with several people of WMG, especially Paul Roberts (Course Leader) and one of his doctoral students. My reason for keeping the contact is that I am convinced that WMG and especially Paul are doing a great job and staying in contact with academics always gives you new input.

This continuing contact actually gave me the motivation to write this blog. I think, and Paul agrees, that it is important to know what you can do with this degree—what is the benefit of MBE. After my studies I got in contact with some people and they asked what was the biggest benefit, what kind of job did I get afterwards, etc. Indeed these are very important questions and so I decided to write a few lines with the aim to share my experiences and thoughts regarding this topic.

I am aiming to support this course and its underlying philosophy, so that finally people have more motivation to decide on this course and to give them more belief in what they are doing during this one year of studying MBE.

Just to summarize it in advance—it was the most mind-opening year that I’ve ever had and it was worth every minute. In my opinion, every job on this world would benefit from these experiences and the conveyed message. So let's have a look at it in more detail:

First of all I should mention that directly after my studies I got employed by a big German company. For 20 months now, I have been working as a project engineer. Even though it is a technically-oriented job and on the first sight it doesn’t have that much to do with MBE, it is a challenging position and MBE steps in every day.

One thing that should be born in mind is, that most of the times you won’t enter a company and be the boss. There are competencies and experiences that must be gained. It is hard to manage and lead if you have no idea how a company works, how people behave and how the work is carried out. Besides getting the respect you need when you come directly from university, respect is easier to get if people see that you have a clue what you are talking about.

However, let me tell you a bit about my business life: I am responsible for a production site that produces a component for automobile paint. It is a chemical process that I didn't know much about. But actually that was not important for me because I do the engineering for this site, and this goes in the direction of what I knew from my previous studies. But being honest, I must admit that my technical knowledge is very basic and I had no clue about the technical component of my job at the beginning. In addition, and mostly forgotten: you work in a company, there are procedures, rules, responsibilities, actually it is real life and not comparable with the university life, even though university tries quite successfully to come close to it.

So at the beginning I had to deal with two main totally new areas. This is why I was also happy about not getting a management position right from the beginning. Even though I see myself capable of doing such a job (this applies to everyone from MBE), I would have been overloaded. Having responsibility for others right from scratch would have been a third main area, probably too much to make for me to be good at my job from the start. Besides without work experience I think it is hard to get the acceptance of your colleagues. It may work out but it would be tough.

But why is this course so beneficial for professional life afterwards?

On the one hand you have the concept of the course and on the other hand the content of the modules and the masters’ thesis.

With regard to the mentioned two main new knowledge areas I would like to kick off with the first one:

The concept, the idea behind MBE and its organization already forms one major benefit. It is about learning how to learn. And this, as simple as it is, is a great and future-building competence, which will help you in every situation. Previously, I studied in Germany, sitting in a class with hundreds of other students and listening to one professor, making notes and I finally proved in a final test that I am capable of learning something by heart. But the real world is different. You do not sit in an office in the basement; alone, no colleagues around you, no computer and you have to write from memory something on paper that you have learned quite a while ago. You do have experienced colleagues; you do have Internet, books, documentation, etc. Finally, your task is to take this basic knowledge and apply it to a new situation, task, project, whatsoever. Otherwise you would need ages for a little task. And this is what the course work but even more the PMAs are about. Like in real life, identify your aim and solve your task with existing knowledge that is available in various sources, while enriching it with your own thoughts and thus developing the solution. Getting used to this and seeing it as normal way to obtain knowledge, becoming confident to work in unfamiliar areas, is of great benefit.

I am quite certain that during your masters’ you will find yourself concerned about time at some point or even frequently. The pressure is high, you have PMAs, you have the dissertation, modules and the time will come when you want to apply for jobs. So it might seem that there is no time for fun and the workload is not manageable. But it is, thousands of people have proven it and it brings its own benefits. At the end of my year, indeed all concentration was on the thesis and the last PMAs, the weekly and daily workload was massive. To be honest, most of the stress was made by myself: how often did I postpone something or wasn't really working when my timetable actually said: Study. But from time to time you learn to cope with it. And this pays back in professional life. In my job it is normal to have about 15-20 projects at the same time. Some are smaller and actually no big deal, but some are quite comprehensive and you have due dates. So it is about keeping every ball in the air. Actually like during the masters’ and specifically when there are the mini projects, if I got it right in mind it was about 5. Having gone through these lessons the job that I am in now was nothing new. It was different, and it was serious, but I had my patterns from the studies at Warwick that I adapted. Of course a university won't be able to mirror professional life for a 100% but WMG has done a great job. Compared to other colleagues who started working at the same time as me, I saw myself more comfortable with the given new situation and all the side effects. It was just like a new module. Besides, all that I have written in this paragraph is also true for diverse Assessment Centers. I have gone through three and the hardest part was nothing other than course work.

So what about content of these studies? Well it also depends on how you understand them and how you apply them to your professional life. Let's take the Six Sigma modules. I wouldn't expect to go into a company and start implementing Six Sigma and optimize processes and products. Nonetheless, you have the idea of DMAIC in mind and this already is worth a lot. You know something different than others do and thus can push, e.g. a project group in the direction to try it. Thinking this further leads you to other modules like Leadership. How do I lead people towards a new initiative, how can I influence? You might not be the boss but you can lead and show the aim, the vision. Ok, that might happen in a smaller circle of influence than when you have learnt it, but it is a beginning and it is a great opportunity to try out several approaches. And this is what I meant about your own understanding and usage of the content. If you keep it in mind you can work with it and try out what works for you. Apart from leadership, change management is vital to implement something new in a sustainable way. Understand why people do not want to change and indeed cope with it. I don’t know if you are surprised to hear that, but I see that as the biggest challenge in a business and there are only a few people out there that are good at it. I am not saying that you are an expert in each of these fields, modules, and this is not the aim, but you definitely have a basic toolbox you can work with. The rest comes from experience and further education.

Let me give you a real life example: I started together with 6 other people in the same department; it was decided to form a newcomer group that was supposed to work on an undefined project. So it was up to us to define it. With everyone having a different background and position we ended up working on something that was concerned with the entrance of new employees. How do they get known to the company, where can they find answers to explicit questions and how could they gain technical knowledge and expertise? After a while the question came up on how knowledge in general was transferred. Therefore, I suggested calling the project knowledge management. That enabled me to contribute the knowledge I gained during MBE, and finally I ended up as the elected leader for a group of 12 people. Following the basic knowledge about change management proved to be absolutely valuable in order to persuade the older colleagues that our project is a positive thing and everyone could benefit from it. Although my experience was mostly theoretical, the knowledge about leadership allowed me to try out several things and finally find my way to lead the team to a successful project completion. In the end the project benefited from 3 WMG modules and my thesis, which I think is a good result.

The Masters’ thesis is a good opportunity to get deeper into a topic. There you really start becoming an expert in this field of knowledge and this is why you can apply it even better to your future job. So choose it wisely ;)

What more is to say? I know Deming is a big topic in MBE and this is a must. When you start working you quickly see Deming with his deadly diseases and 14 points of management everywhere. It is incredible to see that it looks like nothing has really changed for nearly 30 years now. During the studies I always thought: This is common sense, of course you are not doing it like this, you are doing it the other way; you are a nice guy and act like a human being. Who the hell behaves like that described by the seven deadly diseases? Therefore, I was shocked entering the business world and I can feel that it is of great importance to keep the words of this wise man in mind! It hopefully prevents you becoming and a****. In business it works differently, it is not a safe environment and it is vital to get grounded and remember what you have learnt.

In my eyes business ethics is a vital component of professional life and MBE provides the right direction. Paul once said that for him it was important to have his own values, set up his own mindset and stick to them. Although I am not in a leading position, this proved to be great advice and good support for decision-making. It doesn’t let you doubt. An example: should I go to my boss and tell him what I think? Sure, no excuse! I promised myself to always be open and honest as well as having my say. So I went there and in the end it was the right decision.

I am convinced that I actually could write some more pages, but I think this gives you a first insight on how you can benefit from the MBE course. But again it really depends on how you approach the course and use the given input for your benefit. It is not just about taking; it is also about developing it continuously.

If you have got any questions regarding MBE, etc. just drop me an email:

Jan.ruecker@ymail.com

Finally I want to wish you all good luck with your studies but never forget:

Have fun and enjoy your life.

Jan


October 08, 2012

Welcome to MBE 2012

A warm welcome to everyone in the new Management for Business Excellence (MBE) intake--32 students of 14 nationalities. Today saw the start of the Creating Business Excellence module, the first of six MBE-specific modules. Everyone was engaged and lots of questions were asked in the introductory sessions. So, a good start for what promises to be a challenging year. I look forward to working with you.

October 22, 2010

Angry and ashamed

On Wednesday 20 October a student on the Management for Business Excellence masters was attacked by thugs on his return to his accommodation in Coventry after a day studying on campus. He was severely injured and had to go to hospital.

Words cannot adequately express the anger that I feel about a situation in which a supposedly civilised country spawns mindless thugs who prey on young people motivated to extend their education. An unprovoked attack by cowardly bullies against a foreign national fills me with shame. I have travelled throughout Europe, South-East Asia, North America, Africa, Australia and have always been met with courtesy, hospitality and friendship. Not once have I felt a threat to me personally, and yet here in Coventry, two weeks after his arrival in Britain our colleague is savaged by two of the poorest examples of humanity.

I take it upon myself on behalf of all the decent people in this country to offer you and your family my sincere apologies for what has happened to you. I hope that you get better soon and I trust that you will return to your studies with the enthusiasm and motivation that brought you to the University of Warwick in the first place.


October 17, 2010

The start of a new academic year

A new academic year has started and there are 45 students on the Management for Business Excellence (MBE) masters programme. There were 47 originally, but two left, one after the first 90 minutes of MBE induction and the second after a couple of days. Although I was sorry to see them go, they decided that the style of learning on MBE was not for them and they chose to move to another course. I wish them well in their studies this year.

21 nationalities are represented on MBE - wonderful - so many opportunities to learn from others who have different experiences and perceptions. However, this is not without its problems. Given the learning style in CBE which is largely team-based problem solving, one student wondered how they were ever going to come to an agreement on anything because of the diversity of views.

I think that the answer at least in part, will come from consideration of one of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people: Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. In a group with diverse views there is the temptation to makes one's own views heard and be accepted by the group. What Covey proposes is to spend time listening empathetically to truly understand the views of others. If each team member does this there is a far greater chance that they will be able to understand their common ground. And it is on this common ground that they can build their responses to the projects that they are working on, always working towards win-win outcomes. This process of sharing views, analysing and discussing them will inevitably lead to better understanding of others, help everyone to express themselves more clearly and bond the team in the process of working on the mini-projects, learning through practice the true meaning of collaborative working.

I am sure that Vineet Nayar would be happy to employ every graduate of MBE next year:-)


March 23, 2010

Social Media and Business Profitability

Writing about web page http://www.amiando.com/eOfficeBirmingham-2010-03-25.html

The B2B Centre will be sharing a platform with other Social Media speakers on Thursday 25th March under the heading "Social Media and Business Profitability".

Gareth Edwards, the B2B Centre's eMarketing Specialist will be helping the audience to "Supercharge Your Social Media".  He has 25 minutes to enthuse the uninitiated, spur on the dabblers and get the power users to realise why not everybody is quite so keen on Twitter as they are.

Check out the eOffice website for more details