Friday in 5 – interesting news bits from around the supply chain horn, served up in one spot to keep you up to date. This quick roundup of news includes a look at the index of U.S. manufacturing activity in May, how advancements in artificial intelligence are shifting the balance of power in technology, and the role of corporate social responsibility in supply chain management.  

U.S. manufacturing activity gains ground

The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Sparshott reports that U.S. manufacturing activity expanded and hiring increased in May. The article, U.S. Manufacturing Activity Advances in May, suggests continued growth for the sector in coming months, despite the uncertainty around potential political actions such as additional tariffs.

The race for dominance in AI

The New York Times’ article, Is China Outsmarting America in A.I.?, suggests that the balance of power in technology is shifting, especially when it comes to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Paul Mozur and John Markoff report on China’s push to increase funding into AI research, as well as recent AI successes by the Chinese tech leader Baidu.

How 3-D knitting could disrupt the apparel business

The apparel business as we know it may be on the cusp of major disruption. In The Washington Post article, How a custom blazer in 90 minutes just might change the apparel business, Sarah Halzack explores how 3-D knitting helps address growing demand for personalized garments, while also delivering potential benefits such as more durable products, fewer labor costs and the elimination of inventory obsolescence.

The CSR of supply chains

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly important metric by which many companies are being measured. In the IndustryWeek article, Who’s Taking Responsibility for Your Supply Chain?, Dave Blanchard looks at the implications of being lax on the CSR front. The article also delves into other approaches to CSR, such as reusing and recycling raw material, and providing programs to plug the manufacturing skills gap.

The upside of in-house training programs

While new training programs are attempting to close the U.S. manufacturing skills gap, most programs occur through third-party organizations instead of the factories for which the workers are being trained. As Mary Josephs reports in DIY Way To Beat The Manufacturing Skills Gap: Schweitzer Engineering, manufacturing CEOs may want to consider a new training approach, especially given the projected shortfall of manufacturing workers by 2025. The Forbes article details the successful training program and recruitment practices of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, a U.S. manufacturer of sophisticated equipment for the global power industry.