Last night, I kept telling R (my four year-old daughter) that she had to go upstairs to take a bath, and she kept refusing, insisting that she didn’t have to because she’s taken “like 5 baths this week!” When she finally couldn’t take it any more of me saying “Come on, let’s go!” she storms out of the room and says, “Where’s Mommy?! I’m telling on Papi!”
I don’t know who’s in charge around here, but it’s definitely not me.
In other news…
- House and Senate approve three-month extension for federal transportation funding (Logistics Management)
- EU Fines Freight-Shipping Companies (Wall Street Journal)
- January 2012 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Rose 11.5 Percent from January 2011
- ATA Truck Tonnage Increased 0.5% in February
- Diesel prices hit highest level since August 2008, reports EIA (Logistics Management)
- IAS Adds Business Intelligence Modules That Provide Critical Insight Into Clients’ Supply Chain & Transportation Operations
- Danone and SAP Team Up to Analyze and Measure Carbon Footprint Across 35,000 Products
- C.H. Robinson Europe supports the Pan-European programme to reduce carbon emissions
- Apple, Foxconn set new standard for Chinese workers (Reuters)
Imagine watching a football game where the first nine possessions result in punts. That is essentially what has been happening with transportation funding since SAFETEA-LU expired back in September 2009. Although the Senate passed a $109 billion, 2-year bill earlier this month, the House failed to approve it, and with time running out, the best Congress could do was to punt this issue out for another three months. Do you think Congress will score a touchdown on its next possession or will they punt it again in June? Considering that this is an election year, my money is on the latter.
The freight forwarding industry received another black eye this week, as the EU Commission fined 14 air-shipping companies a combined €169 million ($225 million) for price fixing. Kuehne + Nagel and Panalpina received the largest fines, while UPS, Expeditors, and UTi Worldwide were among the other forwarders penalized. This investigation follows others conducted by regulators in Europe, the US, and Asia that have resulted in $1.5 billion in fines. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “The commission… said it found evidence of four separate cartels colluding on surcharges between 2002 and 2007 on some of the largest trade routes, particularly between Europe and the U.S. and China. Members used vegetables as code names when talking about fixing prices, the commission said.”
I wonder which vegetable was the most lucrative for these guys? But more importantly, I wonder what changes the freight forwarding industry will make in how its members collaborate and communicate with each other to prevent this issue from occurring again?
Trade between the United States and its NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico, continues to grow (up 11.5 percent in January 2012 compared to January 2011), and truck tonnage, as measured by the ATA’s seasonally-adjusted index, increased 5.5 percent in February 2012 compared to February 2011. The bad news: diesel prices continue to rise too, starting the week at $4.147 per gallon, up $0.215 from a year ago — reaching the highest level since the week of August 25, 2008.
Increased trade activity + increased trucking activity + higher diesel prices = ?
SAP and CH Robinson made sustainability-related announcements this week. Here are some excerpts from the SAP press release:
In 2008, Danone set an ambitious goal of a 30 percent global carbon footprint reduction by 2012 across the entire supply chain, including plants and factories, packaging and end-of-cycle disposal, transportation and storage. To meet this challenge, Danone and SAP AG have brought together their expertise and know-how to build an innovative solution that measures the company’s environmental footprint.
The solution created by Danone and SAP is fully integrated with Danone’s SAP infrastructure: 80 percent of the detailed data pertaining to its whole product life cycle is automatically collected. The goal is to provide operations managers with actionable information so they can analyze strategic options and take the more environmentally sustainable action, whether it relates to product development, ingredient selection, sourcing and transportation options or even investments. The collected data can be audited and fully traced, and is updated monthly, providing real-time insight.
“This solution makes carbon footprint issues everyone’s business. Analyzing product life cycles is a good way to rally all of our employees to our carbon footprint reduction target,” said Myriam Cohen-Welgryn, vice president, Danone Nature. “By making this analysis part of our IT infrastructure, we gain valuable insights for decision-making; it becomes a catalyst for change in the company as a whole. Just as in the past, we made success in achieving carbon reduction targets an integral part of the system used to calculate executive bonuses [emphasis mine].”
Sounds like an interesting case study, and I hope to speak with someone at Danone down the road to learn more. The challenge with carbon footprinting the entire the supply chain is not gathering the 80 percent of the data that Danone claims to collect automatically, but getting the remaining 20 percent, which often has to come from suppliers and other external partners. And the breadth and depth of your carbon footprint definition also makes a difference, as I’ve written about in the past. Nonetheless, the fact that Danone has linked achieving sustainability targets with executive bonuses gives this initiative some teeth.
Meanwhile, CH Robinson Europe announced that it is a steering member of the Green Freight Europe initiative, which strives to become “the leading independent voluntary programme for improving the environmental performance of freight transport across Europe.” Think of it as the European equivalent of the EPA SmartWay Program. According to the press release, Green Freight Europe will provide:
- A central, independently-hosted database to calculate, validate and benchmark the environmental performance of transportation companies based on their actual data.
- A platform for shippers and carriers to collaborate and share best practices on eco-efficiency in transport.
- Carriers of all sizes access to resources that allow them to improve – ranging from financial to technological support.
And just like that, the first quarter of 2012 comes to an end.
Have a great weekend!
(Note: CH Robinson and SAP are ARC clients)