While we here at Logistics Viewpoints bring you thought provoking stories, industry expertise, and a weekly round-up of the most important logistics news, there is someone else that we need to thank for the actual delivery of these insights: Ray Tomlinson. The name may not be familiar to everyone, but his contribution to society is well-known. Ray Tomlinson was a pioneer of email. Previously, mail could only be sent to others who used the same computer. But with Tomlinson’s breakthrough in 1971, mail could now be sent from one machine to another. To designate an address, he settled on the “@” key to separate the user name from the name of their machine. This naming scheme is still used in email today, and it allows Logistics Viewpoints to be delivered to your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Without Ray Tomlinson, the Logistics Viewpoints team would be saddled with mailing out a print newsletter every Friday. Ray Tomlinson passed away March 5th.
And now, on to the news.
- Amazon finds air freight partner
- Paris’s river revolution: the supermarket that delivers groceries via the Seine
- Startups see potential in ‘ugly food’ rejected by supermarkets
- UK to test self-driving trucks later this year
- Retail imports building toward summer levels
- Rates took a nosedive in February
Amazon has found a partner to get into the air freight business. The online retail giant is partnering with Air Transport to take to the air with a fleet of 20 Boeing 767’s. Amazon plans to ship merchandise around the US with the use of these planes in yet another step to become a global logistics company. The new partnership will give Amazon more flexibility in its delivery mechanisms and reduce their reliance on big carriers such as UPS and FedEx. According to analysts, this deal would give Amazon control over roughly 15% of the packages it ships annually.
French supermarket Franprix is looking at ways to help make Paris a little bit greener. The supermarket chain has turned its attention to the Seine as an alternative to trucks crowding the streets. This makes sense considering the ever-stricter constraints imposed upon road transportation in the city. Franpix is sending barges down the river with grocery goods ready to be dispatched and sold. The barge is now the centerpiece of a project that is slowly putting the river Seine back at the forefront of Paris’s urban logistics. French grocery retailer Franprix’s pioneering delivery scheme supplies 135 of its 350 Parisian stores via the Seine, taking as many as 2,600 trucks off the city’s roads each year.
Whole Foods Market says it will sell the “ugly” produce that would otherwise go to waste at a handful of its Northern California stores beginning in late April. The pilot project, in collaboration with Imperfect Produce, an Emeryville, Calif.-based startup, marks one of the first forays by a national grocery chain into the movement to cut food waste. U.S. supermarkets generally reject produce that doesn’t meet their standards for appearance or earn top U.S. Department of Agriculture grades, leading to waste. The U.S. trashes about a third of its food supply, according to USDA estimates. The addition of these “ugly” foods to supermarkets will enable more people, especially those in poorer communities, to gain access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m hoping this pilot program will put more produce into the supply chain, rather into the trash.
The UK is set to test self-driving vehicles later this year. The program is being tested in order to speed up deliveries and cut traffic congestion. The project could see convoys of up to 10 autonomous trucks driving a few meters apart. According to reports, a stretch of the M6 motorway near Carlisle has been touted as a possible testing ground. On this quieter part of the UK’s major road network, a driver can lead a “platoon” of autonomous trucks without having to navigate various entry and exit points.
Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports should see its traditional buildup toward the summer despite difficult comparisons with last year’s unusual patterns, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.5 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in January, up 4.4% from December and 21.4% from January 2015. February was estimated at 1.4 million TEU, up 17.1% from the same month in 2015. March is forecast at 1.35 million TEU, down 22.2% from the flood of traffic seen as the backlog of cargo began to move through ports at this time last year. April is forecast at 1.49 million TEU, down 1.8% from last year; May at 1.56 million TEU, down 3.4%; June at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.6%; and July at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.4%.
And finally, spot market freight volume fell another 7.9% in February, and truckload rates slipped, compared to January. The month-over-month decline was typical of seasonal norms, according to the DAT North American Freight Index, although disappointing harvests in California and Florida also contributed to this year’s lower volume. Paid rates, verified rate averages paid to carriers, for reefer haulers fell 9 cents in February from January to $2.04 a mile. Van rates in February also dropped 9 cents from January and were also 29 cents lower than the same month last year. Its $1.83 per-mile average was the segment’s worst showing since April 2013. Van rates have now fallen every month since September.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and the song of the week, The Letter by the Boxtops.