This Week in Logistics News (February 13-17, 2012)

I am on borrowed time this morning because I am attending an executive breakfast seminar on social media in supply chain management, a topic I’ve written much about the past couple of years (for example, see “Supply Chain Executives Define Social Media Too Narrowly” and “Is Social Media in Supply Chain Management a Waste of Time?”). I’ll share my takeaways from this morning’s seminar in a future posting, but for now, here’s a quick recap of this week’s news…

As expected (see my posting from last month), the American Trucking Associations (ATA) is challenging the recently “finalized” Hours-of-Service rule in court. Here is what ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in the press release:

“We regret that FMCSA and the Obama administration have put ATA and its member companies in a position to take this legal action. The rules that have been in place since 2004 have contributed to unprecedented improvement in highway safety. The law is clear about what steps FMCSA must undertake to change the rules and we cannot allow this rulemaking, which was fueled by changed assumptions and analyses that do not meet the required legal standards, to remain unchallenged.”


“FMCSA’s own analyses show that even when they overstate the safety benefits of these changes, the costs created by their rule still outweigh those benefits. We need this issue to be resolved in a credible manner, taking into account the undisputed crash reduction since 2004, so we can focus limited government and industry resources on safety initiatives that will have a far greater impact on highway safety.”

Although ATA is against the HOS changes, it does support other safety initiatives, which the organization mentioned in the press release: mandated electronic on-board recorders to ensure greater compliance with the current, effective HOS rules; a new government requirement for large trucks to be electronically speed limited; a return to a national maximum speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles to avoid safety consequences of car-truck speed differentials; and greater deployment of automated speed and traffic enforcement technologies.

As the saying goes, when it comes to the final Hours of Service ruling, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” so don’t get up just yet because there’s plenty of opera still left.

UPS acquired Kiala this week, a very interesting company based in Brussels “that provides convenient delivery options to busy consumers purchasing goods over the Internet.” Here is the short blurb from the press release:

Kiala was launched in 2001 as a private firm and currently operates in five countries: Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain. It has developed a platform that enables e-commerce retailers to offer their shoppers the option of having goods delivered to a convenient retail location [such as a convenience store or gas station]. The acquisition will broaden UPS’s service portfolio for business-to-consumer deliveries.

I hadn’t heard of Kiala before, but at least from what I gathered from its website, the company has created a win-win-win value proposition for consumers, B2C companies, and local retailers that serve as delivery points. Another perfect example of what’s possible when you ask “Why?” and then take action to transform the status quo.

Gasoline prices have risen 19 cents the past four weeks. The roller coaster ride with oil and gasoline prices continues, and if the situation with Iran worsens, expect more twists and turns in the weeks ahead. Or maybe not. The bottom line is that are so many factors influencing supply and demand these days, that nobody really knows what is going to happen, which is why this Reuters article headline says it all: “Oil demand and forecasts: getting it wrong again in 2012.

And with that, I’m out of time. Have a great weekend!

(Note: Logistics Viewpoints will not be published on Monday in observance of President’s Day)