Some business insiders questioned how Apple Inc. would perform after Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook took over as the company's chief executive. Since Jobs' passing, Apple has released the iPhone 4S and the new iPad, both with resoundingly positive results. But, perhaps one of the most significant contributions Cook has made in the past six months has been overlooked.
When Cook was hired in 1997 by Jobs, his primary responsibility was to clean up Apple's manufacturing problems, according to The New York Times. And since he was put in charge, Cook has made improving the company's supply chain one of his top priorities.
That's important for the global supply chain, because when Apple moves, the business world pays attention to the direction it goes. The computer conglomerate has the potential to transcend major supply chain procedure, as evidenced by its full-disclosure policy in regards to its suppliers and the conditions they operate in, which we've discussed in the past. As we hoped, Cook has continued to emphasize the importance of improving supplier standards.
The Times reports that Apple began publishing monthly reports about supplier factory compliance to its 60-hour workweek limit. In January, 84 percent of its suppliers met that standard, and in February, compliance rose to 89 percent.
Last week, Cook personally visited a factory run by highly controversial manufacturer Foxconn, which is one Apple's major suppliers, and found a that there were a lot of concerning issues that needed to be addressed. In response, Cook demanded that working hours be reduced and wages be increased.
If other companies follow Apple's lead, it can only bode well for the supply chain. A widespread call for higher standards of outsourced suppliers could diminish the amount of counterfeit labeling in supply chains and improve label tracking and traceability.