This Week in Logistics News (April 12 – 18)


This past Tuesday, April 15, marked the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a moment that brought shock, terror, sadness, anger, strength, and pride to the city of Boston. The local and national media have done a terrific job of capturing the raw emotion of the events, and the healing process of the last year. I don’t feel it is necessary for me to recount my thoughts and opinions of the tragedy. But, I will ask that we keep all of those affected by this tragedy in our thoughts. I also want to wish all of the runners in Monday’s 118th running of the Boston Marathon good luck and happy running.

And now, on to the news.

Gap Inc. has said that it will expand its omni-channel operations by testing a new “order in-store” capability later this year. This capability will allow online and mobile customers to reserve items in certain Gap and Banana Republic stores. This capability pushes the customer experience forward as it offers “endless aisle” shopping. This move helps to combine the digital and physical world and allows Gap to carry less inventory in stores, as long as the order can be fulfilled quickly from a warehouse or DC.

Zebra Technologies, a provider of bar code printing technology, has agreed to purchase Motorola Solutions Inc.’s business scanners. This deal combines Zebra’s bar-code labels and radio tags with the computers and scanners made by Motorola. This can simplify and streamline a company’s ability to track items through the overall distribution network. Investors were skeptical however, as Zebra’s stock fell 10% after the announcement.

Cargo theft is on the rise. Despite three years of decline in Europe, 2013 saw a rise in cargo theft. Thefts in Europe were up more than 60% last year. This is in direct relation to the rise in organized cargo theft gangs. Though rarely seen in the United States, European cargo vessels are still susceptible to violent heists and hijackings.

While a harsh winter impacted agriculture and crop production, it didn’t impact the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad announced it delivered 14 percent higher quarterly profit as it hauled more agricultural, industrial and coal shipments. So there is good news for the freight railroad business, while at the same time, the trucking industry is struggling. A driver shortage has been plaguing the industry in recent years, and things are not looking better. The new issue: a shortage of qualified technicians. This shortage means that keeping trucks on the road will be harder than ever, which could seriously impact the future of trucking.

“The trucking industry could face a technician shortage as large as 200,000, say sources, and the Department of Labor predicts the current 1 million jobs in auto, diesel and collision repair industries to grow 17 percent by 2020. However, only about 3,500 diesel and truck techs enter the labor market through schools each year — not nearly enough to keep up with growth and demand.”

That’s the news for this week. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the song of the week: “More than a Feeling” by Boston.


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