This Week in Logistics News (August 19 – 25)

Source: Sky and Telescope

As authors of the Logistics Viewpoints blog, we take pride in delivering insights that you can’t obtain in other sources. As an example, did you know there was a total eclipse of the sun across the US this week? I say this sarcastically because every news outlet covered the event extensively.  But I also say this seriously because I found it to be a completely underwhelming event in Massachusetts. Ok, I understand that Massachusetts is far outside of the “path of totality”, but I wouldn’t have even noticed a difference in the light outside, had I not been looking for the eclipse’s effect. But it looks like this Nebraska family had a great experience.

And now, on to the news.

Zipline will be working with the Tanzania government to launch what they are calling the world’s largest drone delivery service for emergency medical supplies. In the first quarter of 2018, Tanzania’s government will begin using drones to make up to 2,000 deliveries per day to more than 1,000 health facilities, Zipline said in a statement Thursday. Zipline has been operating a similar service in Rwanda, and Vayu has completed drone flights deliveries of blood samples and other medical items in Madagascar.

Flytrex is launching an on-demand drone delivery service with AHA in Reykjavik Iceland. Its drones were recently approved by the Icelandic Transport Authority to pick up restaurant orders in Reykjavik and fly them to a drop-off point in a nearby suburb. The city’s structure on a bay makes the drone delivery an effective alternative to road delivery due to the drone’s ability to cross the bay, rather than driving an auto around the perimeter. The program will begin with one drone flying 20 orders per day and then scale up to hundreds of deliveries a day to customers’ yards.

Reports of service failures across the CSX rail network have intensified over the summer, more recently gaining additional press and triggering a letter to be sent by the Rail Customer Coalition to committee members of the US Congress. The rail gridlock is reportedly causing coal stockpiles to increase in Ohio and West Virginia and shortages of oils and sweeteners used by food producers such as McDonalds and Kellogg Company.  A letter to Congress by the Rail Customer Coalition states “there are chronic service failures occurring across the CSX network which are impacting the entire North American rail network… This has put rail dependent business operations throughout the U.S. at risk of shutting down, caused severe bottlenecks in the delivery of key goods and services, and has put the health of our nation’s economy in jeopardy.”

Walmart and Google are teaming up to provide Walmart goods to customers of Google Express. These two companies are taking aim at the convenience and low-cost (free) delivery offered by the Amazon Prime service. Google plans to offer free delivery of items purchased on Google Express, so long as purchase minimums are met. Earlier this year Walmart began offering free two-day shipping on more than two million items. Walmart is also repurposing many of its stores to serve as e-commerce fulfillment centers for buy online, pick-up in store. Walmart is clearly looking to leverage its physical presence to optimize the omni-channel paradigm to compete with Amazon’s e-commerce strength.

Amazon’s pending acquisition of Whole Foods recently received the green light from regulators, and the acquisition is expected to close on Monday. Amazon plans to immediately make many of Whole Foods items more affordable. From a logistics perspective, Whole Foods brands will be made available through and the Prime Now same-day delivery service.  Also, Amazon lockers are planned to be installed in select Whole Foods stores, allowing items to be shipped to Whole Foods locations and allowing returns to be processed from Whole Foods locations.

Great Wall Motor Company, as you may have guessed is a China-based automotive company. Great Wall recently told Automotive News that it is interested in purchasing the Jeep brand from Fiat Chrysler. I recently wrote an LV post about American-made cars and the fact that an American auto brand does not necessarily equate with an American made car due to international supply chains. Although the Great Wall interest in Jeep is currently only hearsay, it could very well be the next major step in the internationalization of automotive brands and supply chains.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Eclipse by Pink Floyd.

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