This Week in Logistics News (August 5-9, 2013)

I gotta get packing, so let’s go straight to the news…

The new Hours of Service (HOS) regulations went into effect more than a month ago, and as far as I can tell, the world hasn’t ended. Good thing too, because the changes are here to stay. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld most of the changes in a ruling last week (the court struck down the provision requiring short-haul drivers to take a 30-minute off-duty break). Here is the concluding paragraph from Judge Janice Rogers Brown’s decision:

It is often said the third time’s a charm. That may well be true in this case, the third of its kind to be considered by the Circuit. With one small exception, our decision today brings to an end much of the permanent warfare surrounding the HOS rules. Though FMCSA won the day not on the strengths of its rulemaking prowess, but through an artless war of attrition, the controversies of this round are ended.

As I’ve said before, the true test of how detrimental the new HOS regulations will be to the industry will come in Q4 when shipping volumes increase for the holidays, especially when you couple it with the impact CSA is having on driver hiring and retention; a lot also depends on what happens with the economy in the months ahead too.

Which will have a greater negative impact on transportation operations in the months ahead: the new Hours of Service rules or CSA? Take the QuickPoll to cast your vote.

In technology-related news, Oracle announced the new release of Oracle Retail Allocation that helps retailers “to deliver the right product, in the best assortment, for each location using real-time inventory levels along with sales and planning information.” Here are a few details from the press release:

Overlaying science with the art of merchandising, Oracle Retail Allocation 13.3 uses embedded business intelligence analyzing input from multiple data sources to provide allocators with better insight and recommendations.

 

Oracle Retail Allocation 13.3 adopts a modern Java interface that employs product images rather than just the SKU number or product name, which helps accelerate the allocation process while encouraging better visibility and control over inventory allocation to stores.

 

The allocation solution also delivers role-based dashboards that allow users to start the day with the information that is most important to them and take immediate action. For example, the allocator can view a report on their dashboard, click on it to see more details and launch an allocation that is prefilled with information from the report.

Meanwhile, Con-way Truckload announced that it is investing $2 million “in three state-of-the-art safety technology systems for all of the 525 new tractors it will take delivery of in 2013.” These systems include Front Collision Avoidance, Electronic Stability Control, and Lane Departure Warnings. This is yet another example of how trucks, as well as passenger cars, are becoming more autonomous, pointing toward a future where we might see driverless trucks on the road. (For related commentary, see “Beware, Driverless Cars are Everywhere!”).

On the mergers and acquisitions front, Chainalytics announced this week that it has acquired ROCE Partners, a pan-European supply chain management consultancy with offices in Helsinki, Milan, and Stockholm. According to the press release, “With the addition of ROCE Partners, Chainalytics will both expand its geographic coverage and deepen its experience and capabilities in the areas of sales and operations planning (S&OP) and demand-supply planning.”

And last week E2open acquired icon-scm, a supply chain planning and collaboration solution provider headquartered in Germany, for approximately $34 million. I am not familiar with icon-scm’s solution, so I can’t comment on its strengths and weaknesses. But this acquisition points to a growing trend: the evolution of Supply Chain Operating Networks beyond collaborative execution into the realm of collaborative planning. In my opinion, if a business process requires people from many different companies and agencies to communicate and collaborate with each other to get a job done, then doing so via a SCON makes the most sense.

Finally, from the “Technologies That Could Transform Supply Chains in the Future” file, UPS announced last week that select UPS Store locations will be offering 3D printing services to start-ups, small businesses and retail customers (watch the short video here). Apparently, if 3D printing has the potential to disrupt parcel shipping down the road, then UPS wants to have a stake in it too. And also in that file, news this week that the FAA certified two unmanned aircraft (“drones”) for commercial use. A baby step toward drones becoming a new transportation mode — but a step nonetheless.

And with that, it’s time for me to take a much needed vacation. There will be no Logistics Viewpoints postings next week, but I’ll see you the week after next, a shade darker with a little sand between my toes.

Song of the Week: “Glitter & Gold” by Rebecca Ferguson

Note: C.H. Robinson and HighJump Software are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors.