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Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Introduces a Wrangler that Runs on Diesel

For many years, Jeep has searched for a diesel engine suitable to power its legendary Wrangler, with no success. However, the recent announcement of the Wrangler EcoDiesel shows that the auto manufacturer has finally realized its longtime goal of producing a diesel-powered Wrangler, though critics are complaining that diesel engines produce too many harmful emissions, particularly at a time when the world needs to drastically cut back on carbon emissions to curb the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, Jeep is intent on producing a vehicle that meets its customers’ requests for a Wrangler with the power and torque that a diesel engine affords, and the company’s branding, as well as advances in emissions-reduction technology, suggest that Jeep wants to position the Wrangler EcoDiesel as an environmentally-friendly solution.

Customers have long yearned for Jeep to produce a Wrangler capable of performing difficult tasks requiring a lot of power, such as pulling stumps and climbing steep and uneven terrain. Thanks to several years of work performed by engineers employed at the company, Jeep is confident that they can produce a vehicle which both offers the power of a diesel engine and meets increasingly-stringent environmental standards. Fiat Chrysler of America, the company that owns Jeep, has already passed the required certification to begin selling the vehicle in America, which they hope to do before Christmas. That being said, Fiat Chrysler has a history of illegally subverting emissions tests with fraudulent software, resulting in executives from the company facing fraud charges.

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While diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently and produce less carbon dioxide than gas-powered engines, they also emit more nitrogen oxides, which pose a threat to human health as they can cause asthma and other lung issues. However, diesel engines remain the clear choice when substantial power is needed, though electric motors can also prove to be quite powerful. According to engineers from Fiat Chrysler, the EcoDiesel is roughly 30 percent more fuel efficient than the standard Wrangler, which means an enhanced efficiency of an additional seven or eight miles per gallon.

This is not the first time Fiat Chrysler has included an EcoDiesel engine in one of its vehicles. The company included such an engine in Ram pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees as early as 2014, but these vehicles were pulled from the market after they were found to violate emissions standards. To make matters worse, these early implementations of the EcoDiesel engine were prone to system leaks and cracks, resulting in a forced recall of 108,000 vehicles. As a result of these failures, Fiat Chrysler has fallen behind Ford and General Motors in the diesel truck market, though these competitors have had issues of their own with regards to emissions and reliability.

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The first iteration of the engine to be used in the new Wrangler, the Gen III EcoDiesel, was included in the Ram 1500 pickup released a few months ago. The engine is a turbocharged V6 that displaces 3.0 liters, and includes a five-gallon diesel exhaust fuel canister in order to comply with emissions standards. This canister must be serviced every 10,000 miles, at roughly the same time that an oil change is needed. According to Jeep, the new Wrangler should be able to go over 500 miles on a single tank of fuel, beating the range of the gas-powered Wrangler by 200 miles.

The new Wrangler only comes with an automatic transmission and in the four-door variant, as Jeep concluded there was insufficient demand to sell other vehicle configurations. And the Wrangler EcoDiesel is not cheap, as the most basic version starts at roughly $40,000. But for Jeep fans looking for an efficient, extremely powerful compact SUV, the Wrangler EcoDiesel has the potential to make for a perfect choice. Only time will tell, however, how well this unique new entry to the Jeep family will sell, and whether the innovative EcoDiesel engine can live up to the ambitious promises of the engineers who created it.

Working on computers

Could Working Fewer Hours Improve Productivity?

It’s a concept that may seem ridiculous on its face: several employers are reducing the number of hours their employees work under the belief that doing so will encourage these employees to get more work done. Modern employees, particularly those who do “knowledge work,” often work inside of the office as well as outside the office, as they are constantly connected with their coworkers thanks to modern communication technology. Though the hyperconnectivity afforded by smartphones and social media would seem to benefit collaboration and productivity, it also leads to increased stress and more distractions, both of which negatively impact worker effectiveness. In light of this realization, some employers, including German entrepreneur Lasse Rheingans, are actively limiting the number of hours their employees work, believing that a five-hour workday is sufficient to accomplish the tasks necessary for an organization to function.

The workplace Lasse Rheingans runs may seem radical to somebody unfamiliar with the concept of deliberately limiting hours for knowledge workers. Employees arrive at 8 AM and leave at 1 PM, and are not expected to do any more work until the next day. In fact, Rheingans’ office imposes strict restrictions on work; employees are not allowed to access their phones or social media during the workday, and only check their work email twice per day, doing so only during business hours. Employees are instructed not to make small talk with one another during work hours. Furthermore, Rheingan imposes strict limits on the duration of meetings, most of which last just fifteen minutes.

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Originally, Rheingans, who is the head of a digital consulting agency, intended to run the experiment of the five-hour workday for just a week. But he found that the reduced hours was not only popular with employees, but boosted their focus, productivity, and drive. As such, he made the change permanent. Despite the shortened workday, employees are still expected to complete eight hours’ worth of work per day, and are paid the same but do not earn overtime pay for additional hours worked beyond the mandated 25 per week. Rheingans’ employees work more quickly than they used to, choosing to fully focus their attention on their tasks during the day in order to get everything done on time. 

Although Rheingans’ employees initially had difficulty transitioning to this shorter, more focused style of work, once they adapted they found they could maintain their productivity while freeing up a substantial amount of time for their personal lives. Employees also found themselves spending more time socially with one another after the end of the workday, sometimes spending several additional hours at the office having non-work-related conversations with co-workers. 

The benefits of a five-hour workday are supported by scientific evidence.

Rheingans based his approach not just on his personal desire to spend more time with his family and engage in hobbies, but from examples of successful implementations of a shorter workweek. Most notably, Rheingans was inspired by a book entitled “The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness” by Stephan Aarstol which argues that working fewer hours while getting more things done is not only possible, but can improve your life. Aarstol, a fellow entrepreneur, implemented a five-hour work week at his company, Tower Paddle Boards, in addition to a profit-sharing program for his employees. Though Aarstol paid his employees more per hour as a result of the shortened workweek, he nonetheless saw increased revenue, and found that he attracted more talented employees. Additionally, Aarstol found that the five-hour work day strongly incentivized increasing worker efficiency, as time management became a crucial element of ensuring all work was done on time.

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The benefits of a five-hour workday are also supported by scientific evidence. As an example, research has shown that happy employees are 12% more productive, and employees with more free time to pursue their relationships and interests are more likely to be happy. Rheingans’ smartphone ban during working hours is supported by evidence that shows the presence of a smartphone in the workplace actually reduces one’s brain power, as we generally have a very strong emotional connection to our phones which can prove to be distracting. And having more time to rest in between shifts also boots productivity; studies show that sleep deprivation has a substantial negative impact on brain power as well.

For most people, Rheingans’ and Aarstols’ vision of a five-hour workday can seem radical and off-putting, particularly in the context of a culture that celebrates one’s commitment to their job. But given the positive impact on productivity and efficiency the practice has shown to enable, not to mention the boost to mental health and overall well-being it provides workers, employers may want to give the idea serious consideration.

Food Waste

AI Pioneer Winnow Vision Helps to Combat Global Food Waste

Winnow Vision is building artificial intelligence tools to help chefs run more profitable and sustainable kitchens by cutting food waste in half. Its recent success in securing $12m in fundraising follows an $8m loan from The European Investment Bank (EIB) which in total means the firm has raised a staggering $20m in the last month.

Ingenious was the latest to announce that its Infrastructure Ventures EIS Service has invested in Winnow, the technology company behind Winnow Vision, the artificial intelligence tool helping chefs cut food waste in half, as it completes its series B round of funding at $12m. Other co-investors in this fund raising round include Ingka Investments, Mustard Seed, Circularity Capital, D-Ax in addition to Ingenious. This follows a recent loan from The European Investment Bank (EIB) and in total means the firm has raised $20m in the last month, allowing it to focus on global markets. Ingenious co-invested in the latest funding round through the Infrastructure Ventures EIS Service, representing its third investment to date.

Winnow believes that food is far too valuable to waste and that technology can transform the way food is used. For this reason, their mission is to help the hospitality industry tackle avoidable food waste by connecting the kitchen, empowering chefs to run a more efficient operation.

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According to the Winnow website, food prices have risen by 120% since 2000 and most commercial kitchens simply don’t know how much they waste – traditional manual tracking using pen and paper is prone to error and costs staff valuable time while generating only marginal reductions in waste. In fact, commercial kitchens waste up to as much food as they generate in profits! The hospitality sector wastes 600,000 tonnes of food per year compared to the retail sector (including supermarkets) which wastes 400,000 tonnes of food per year (WRAP). What’s more, almost two thirds of the food waste the hospitality sector sends to landfill could have been avoided (DEFRA Food statistics pocketbook 2013 refers to waste from hotels, pubs, restaurants and quick service restaurants).

Launched in a single staff restaurant in 2013, Winnow has been adopted by more than 1,000 sites globally and is now operating in 40 countries with offices in London, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Cluj-Napoca and Iowa City. Winnow’s latest AI product Winnow Vision, the most advanced food waste technology on the market, has been developed to automate waste tracking, enabling chefs to run more profitable and sustainable kitchens. With global clients already adopting Winnow Vision, from IKEA stores through to the Armani Hotel in Dubai, the demand by companies to drive down food waste in 2019 is increasing.

Winnow’s systems have already reached and surpassed human levels of accuracy in identifying wasted foods.

Kitchens using Winnow tend to see a 40-70% reduction in food waste within 6-12 months, driving food cost savings between 2-8% in total, which improves profit margins whilst operating in an ethical manner.

Guy Ranawake, Investment Director at Ingenious, commented: “We are very happy to support Winnow and look forward to seeing the growth of the company which aligns strongly with our investment strategy and sector focus, including resource efficiency.”

Marc Zornes, CEO at Winnow, said: “We are very excited about driving the business forward in our global fight against food waste and we are grateful for the continuous support of our investors. This year we launched our ground-breaking AI product Winnow Vision, and chefs using Winnow around the world are saving $33m worth of food from going to waste annually. We have set a target to save our customers $1bn by 2025, and this investment will accelerate our technology development and business development approach to help achieve this ambition.”

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Winnow Vision works by taking photos of wasted food as it’s thrown away and uses the images to train itself to recognise what has been discarded. Winnow’s systems have already reached and surpassed human levels of accuracy in identifying wasted foods. This means for clients, over time, these systems will enable their kitchens to automatically register food waste without any human interaction. Food will be thrown in the bin and the data will be captured automatically.

The transaction was led by Ingenious’ infrastructure division and represents the third investment from the Infrastructure Ventures EIS Service, following the backing of Over-C, an analytics company focused on operational performance in the workforce management market and Reactive Technologies, a world leading technology platform facilitating the transition to a low carbon future.

Ingenious is an FCA regulated alternative investment manager that specialises in media, infrastructure, real estate and education. Founded in 1998, the company has raised and deployed over £9 billion of capital on behalf of clients across all the operating divisions since inception. Ingenious’ infrastructure division has deployed over £720m in energy infrastructure projects since it was established in 2011 across the UK, Republic of Ireland and Australia. A dedicated team of some 30 investment professionals have experience across investment, finance, law, accountancy and engineering. The infrastructure management team benefits from lengthy experience in the origination, execution and management of investments in the infrastructure sector and related technologies, including energy, mobility, digital and resource efficiency.