This Week in Logistics News (October 31 – November 6)

StarshipIt was 70 degrees in Boston yesterday, reminding me of the November I spent in San Diego. But unlike San Diego, the weather pattern here will change quickly. Very quickly I’m sure. In general, I consider November to be a period of change. The leaves have all but fallen from the trees in New England, daylight savings time has elapsed, and the Major League Baseball season has concluded. In the business world, annual business planning has entered the mind of business owners and employees and the busy retail and shipping season has just begun!

Now on to this week’s logistics news:

llamasoftLLamasoft acquired the Barloworld Supply Chain Software Division earlier this week. This acquisition will allow LLamasoft to extend its Supply Chain Guru business with Barloworld’s CAST strategic network design and OPTIMIZA tactical supply-demand balancing software solutions. The OPTIMIZA product, in particular, complements LLamasoft’s existing software solution set with collaborative planning functionality that supports subsequent supply chain planning processes occurring after network design.  In addition, LLamasoft has obtained the Barloworld SCS team and a substantial customer base in EMEA. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) details have finally been released by the participating countries’ governments, opening up the deal’s specifics to scrutiny. The deal has been years in the making with little in the way of specifics provided to the public, until now. The document is extensive and full of legalese, but I plan to review some of the sections of greatest relevance to the logistics and logistics technology industries, and discuss my perspective in a future post. The table of contents and full text of the TPP can be accessed here.

maerskMaersk Line announced plans to cut almost 20 percent of its workforce and pull out of vessel order options on the heels of weaker shipping demand, most notably the Asia to Europe route. This announcement occurred about two weeks after the company warned of a weakening profit outlook and a couple days prior to today’s earnings release. Maersk’s reported reduction in shipping business is consistent with previously noted measures of global trade, such as the World Trade Monitor’s estimate of global trade released earlier this summer. Therefore, I consider Maersk’s announcements as a lagging indicator of container shipment volumes.

flipkartFlipkart, a billion dollar India based e-commerce company, reportedly has plans to invest a couple billion dollars on its logistics network over the coming years. The plans include $500 million on warehouses across India, amounting to between 80 and 100 fulfillment centers across the country. These announcements come after Flipkart opened its newest and largest automated warehouse last Friday in Telangana, India.

StarshipStarship Technologies is the newest logistics robotics company on the block. The company, launched by the founders of Skype, is developing robots (see picture at top of post) to handle the “last mile” of parcel logistics. The robots move at about 5 miles per hour, designed to share sidewalk space with pedestrians and equipped with sensors and navigation capabilities. In a video, the robots also appear to be polite in the way they move aside for oncoming pedestrians. When the robot arrives at its destination, the recipient can open the locked cargo bin with a cell phone code. I think it sounds like a feasible idea, aside from the occasional overzealous teenager that may take a robot home as a pet.

The ISM Manufacturing Index slipped to 50.1 (50 denotes boundary between growth and decline) in October. However, new orders did signal an acceleration in growth. On a more positive note, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index still remains quite strong, with Transportation & Warehousing being the industry reporting the greatest amount of growth.

The Panama Canal expansion, set to open in April, may be delayed due to leaky locks. The expansion, when completed, will be able to accommodate large containers ships with a capacity as high as 12,600 containers, and liquefied natural gas tankers, as well.

Have a great weekend! This week’s video is a news report from the 1980’s about a British Harrier jet that made an emergency landing at sea on a Spanish cargo ship.



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