This Week in Logistics News (September 23 – 29)

Last night I saw Roger Waters perform at the TD Boston Garden as part of his Us + Them Tour. This was my second time seeing Roger Waters, the first time being on his Wall Tour from a few years ago. The Wall was an amazing show, especially given that it has long been one of my favorite albums. However, the Us + Them Tour is a best of the best kind of show; Waters performed Pink Floyd classics from Dark Side, The Wall, Wish You Were Here, and most importantly for me, Animals. Animals is one of those albums that doesn’t seem to be held in the same light as other Floyd albums, but in my mind, it is certainly one of their best. So it was amazing to be able to see Waters perform some of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, with an absolutely amazing visual spectacle to go along with it.

And now, on to the news.

Alibaba has put together a five-year plan to take control of its logistics business. The company has taken control of logistics unit Cainiao and pledged to spend 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) over five years to build out a global logistics network. Alibaba is investing approximately $795 million to boost its stake in Cainiao from 49 percent to 51 percent, which will give it direct control over the business unit. The longer-term $15 billion investment will be used to develop Alibaba’s data technology and improve its warehousing and delivery.

Walmart is continuing to roll out new delivery options for customers. This time, the company has partnered with smart lock maker August to trial a delivery program that allows packages to be left inside a customer’s house rather than on the doorstep. The deliveries will be handled by Deliv. The driver will use a one-time passcode to enter the customer’s house with the package. If it is a grocery delivery, the driver will also put away frozen and refrigerated items. By using the August smart home devices, which include doorbells and security cameras, the customer can see the entire delivery process from start to end, beginning with a notification sent to their mobile device. The test will soon start in the Silicon Valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service.

More than a week after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico, the relief efforts are still slow going. However, authorities have re-opened Puerto Rico’s biggest port, which theoretically should help speed up the recovery efforts. However, the damage to roads, computer systems, and other critical infrastructure is so severe that the relief efforts are still being hampered. Cargo ships carrying water and other supplies from the US mainland have begun to arrive, but distribution of water, food and temporary shelter is building slowly. Crowley Maritime, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based ship operator that serves the island, said in a statement that it had “more than 3,000 loads of food, supplies and other cargo” in San Juan awaiting distribution but that efforts to restore transportation were resuming only slowly.

German automaker Daimler AG’s trucks division said it would test platooning technology on US roads. Daimler’s North American truck unit said on Monday it received permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation to test its platooning technology on public roads after successful trials in its proving ground in Madras, Oregon. In truck platooning, connectivity and automated driving improve safety within the vehicle convoys, support drivers and enhance efficiency with closer distances between the connected trucks, the company said. Fuel efficiency and savings is one of the major motivators for pioneering platooning technology.

British food delivery company Deliveroo has raised $385 million in private funding, it said on Sunday. The recent funding values the business at more than $2 billion; the company has raised $474.6 million since its founding in 2012. The new round of funding enables the company to enter new markets, enlarge its technology team and expand its concept of delivery-only restaurants run out of centralized kitchens it operates. The number of Deliveroo locations has risen by 60 percent over the past year and it now operates in more than 150 cities in 12 countries. With so much competition in the home delivery space, and seeing the technology innovation that is pouring into the sector, it is interesting to see such a high valuation for a company that delivers via bicycle.

And finally, the US and Mexico are launching a joint cargo inspection pilot program in Southern California. The program is expected to be launched in October for participants in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST), a commercial clearance program for known low-risk shipments entering the US from Canada and Mexico, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says that it plans to partner with Mexico’s Servício de Administración Tributaria (SAT) and begin conducting joint cargo inspections at Customs’ Otay Mesa Cargo Facility next month.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, and the song of the week, Pigs (Three Different Ones) by Pink Floyd.