This weekend marks a number of big occasions. First and foremost, it is Memorial Day, when we honor and remember the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have died while serving their country. Second, I turn 35 this weekend, which has me officially feeling on the wrong side of “young.” And third, this weekend marks the 37th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie. With the galaxy in the midst of civil war and disarray, one can only imagine the supply chain complexities they were dealing with.
And now, on to the news:
- Walmart expands e-commerce team
- Vietnam riots and the supply chain
- DOT physicals must be by national registry examiner
- NYS Senator calls for safer crude oil transport
Wal-Mart has leased 107,000 square feet of space in Sunnyvale, California, where it plans to add about 450 new employees to its Global eCommerce division after moving in later this year. This move will nearly double the number of employees in its eCommerce operations in Sunnyvale. 2013 saw Walmart outpace Amazon’s e-commerce growth for the first time, so it is not surprising to see the retail giant investing heavily in expanding their online presence. However, e-commerce still only accounts for a little over 6% of Walmart’s total retail sales. It will be interesting to see if this investment shifts the revenue breakout between stores and online sales.
Here in the US, there was a lot of talk about supply chain disruptions due to extreme winter weather, driver shortages, and a lack of available trains and trucks to ship goods. In Vietnam, however, there is a different cause of severe supply chain disruptions: geopolitical tensions. Currently, China and Vietnam are engaged in a stand-off in the South China Sea. Anti-China demonstrators in Vietnam protesting against the presence of a Chinese oil rig near the disputed Paracel Islands ransacked scores of factories. But they also caused many others that saw no violence to suspend production, amplifying the effect on the global supply chain. These disruptions have made global companies look to other sources for goods and raw materials, but this leads to further delays in the supply chain.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is reminding all truck and bus drivers that beginning this week, all new USDOT physicals must be performed by a qualified health professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Current medical certificates held by CDL holders will remain valid the expiration date on the card.
“Safety is our highest priority and it is vital that every commercial truck and bus driver be qualified, alert, and focused when they are behind the wheel,” said Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Medical examiners equipped with a thorough understanding of DOT fitness standards will be able to ensure that commercial drivers meet the health requirements necessary to operate on our highways and roads, thereby strengthening safety for every traveler.”
While this may seem like explanation, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Agricultural Retailers Association, disagree. Of chief concern is the insufficient number of medical examiners available to meet expected driver demand. Drivers who live in rural, underserved areas may experience additional challenges as they look for nearby certified medical examiners.
And finally, New York State Democratic Senator Terry Gipson has written a letter to federal representatives urging the federal government to take action to protect communities, the environment, and the local economy from the ongoing risks of crude oil transportation on railways, specifically along the Hudson River. Senator Gipson joins the ranks of many others voicing their concerns about the safety of the cars that are used to carry the crude oil. While replacing the cars could slow down the movement of crude oil, in the long run, it may be the best for the environment and the economy. According to Gipson:
“We’re not asking that the shipping of oil be halted. What we’re asking is that we make the changes that are necessary to ensure that the communities this oil passes through are protected, that the rails are safe, and that the cars that the oil is being transported in meet safety standards to ensure that should there be a derailment that the oil will not leak out and either cause an explosion or contaminate the environment around it.”
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the long weekend and the song of the week, Buckethead’s Star Wars.