As I was reviewing the logistics news to add to this weekly post, a breaking news flash came up on my browser “Factory Production in U.S. Falls by Most Since 2009.” The article further stated that the reduction serves as additional evidence that severe winter weather weighed on the economy. I really didn’t see this as a surprise, because precursors such as January retail sales showed that this year’s winter weather is having a notable impact on the US economy. But I must say, I believe technological advances, especially computers and internet connectivity, truely mitigate these effects.
This is most prominent with information workers. I worked from home yesterday due to a snow and ice storm (see video below), and I had my most productive day in a month. I bet a number of my colleagues stranded in airports also got alot done due to remote internet connectivity. And lets not forget, online shopping can be done remotely as well. Parcel carriers will thank us for the added business. Of course, none of us working remotely would do that during working hours.
- Is New Truck-Monitoring Technology for Safety — or Spying on Drivers?
- China Regulations Threaten Vale’s Shipping Plans (WSJ)
- How Fresh Roses Arrive In Time for Valentine’s Day
- Tech-driven revolution in the works for labor management
- Sears Furthers Omni-Channel Initiatives With Curbside Pickup
- Panama Canal sets one-week deadline for cost row deal
Robert Bowman wrote a nice post on Forbes.com about the purpose of truck monitoring technology, and posed the question, “Is it for safety, or spying on drivers?” I say “both.” I conducted market research on the fleet telematics market a couple years ago. A number of vendors provided me with examples of how the software allowed users to apply geofencing, or alerts when a vehicle leaves a certain perimeter. This is useful for tracking vehicles, or drivers that take the vehicles home for a nap during work hours. However, the more sophisticated systems also monitor data from onboard computers that track second by second speed, shifting, and braking. These datapoints are especially useful for safety concerns. These telematics solutions are also deployed for hours of service reporting. My research showed that the legacy vendors that offer proprietary technology are being displaced by newer solutions that leverage open mobile systems and cellular communications.
Vale SA, the large (largest?) iron-ore company, is planning to use supersized ships to transport iron-ore to China. According to a Wall Street Journal article, New Chinese regulations limit the size of vessels that can call on Chinese ports. According to the article, Vale’s Valexmax vessels:
..are the world’s largest cargo vessels, about twice the size of the next-largest class of freighters. They were designed to allay the higher distribution costs and longer delivery times Vale faces compared with rival mining companies in Australia who are geographically closer to China.
The article further states that Chinese shipowners, including the powerful state-owned China Ocean Shipping Group (COSCO):
objected and successfully lobbied Chinese authorities, citing safety concerns and describing the vessels as “a matter of monopoly and unfair competition,” to effectively ban the ships from Chinese ports.
The ocean shipping overcapacity may be a politcal factor in this Chinese regulation. It appears that this decision will have a negative competitive impact on Vale’s participation in China, the largest producer of steel, and will likely reduce price competition and improve market share for Australian sourced iron-ore.
A timely post from the C.H. Robinson blog address the cold-chain supporting the delivery of fresh roses for Valentine’s Day. The article provides some interesting data on the US sourcing of flowers:
Eighty percent of all flowers sold for Valentine’s Day are shipped from Latin America, with 12% coming from domestic production and 8% arriving from other locations. In 2013, 231,466 1,000-stem-count bushels of roses were imported into the U.S. from Latin America. Of these, most came from Colombia (142,252), followed by Ecuador (79,342), Guatemala (2,529), and Costa Rica (20).
In the most recent omni-channel logistics news, Sears has upped its omni-channel initiative by offering curbside delivery, in 5 minutes or less. Of course, this is curbside at a Sears brick-and-morter location and its for the company’s loyalty members. But still, this will serve well the needs of customers that need an item in a timely manner, and wish to eliminate the arduous process of parking during the busy holiday shopping season. I think fashion retailers would benefit from a similar program. I can see the fashion conscious using such a service to purchase a last minute weekend outfit. The Sears program is also especially well-suited for purchasing bulky items that are needed in a timely manner.
Lastly (and that’s where I believe this story belongs), the Panama Canal Authority essentially said, “Stop, or else…I’ll say stop again.”
Have a great weekend!
This Week’s Video….In a tribute to the weather in Boston – Ice Ice Baby