This Week in Logistics News (February 3 – 9)

logistics newsEarlier this week, SpaceX launched a rocket into outer space. Attached to the Falcon Heavy rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, was a 2008 Tesla Roadster, with a dummy at the wheel named “Starman.” The goal was to launch the car into space and into an orbit around the sun that would bring it close to Mars, Well, the mission was mostly successful, as the rocket took off and initially went into the planned orbit. However, upon a final reignition of the rockets, the Roadster left its initial orbit and was heading toward the asteroid belt. According to the revised data, it will take the Tesla about 18.8 months to complete one trip around the sun. This means that the Roadster will reach its farthest distance from Earth in about half that time, and the Tesla will cross the orbit of Mars twice per orbit around the sun. And now, on to this week’s logistics news.

As Bitcoin and Blockchain-related technology continues to grow, UPS is taking a big stand. The company, according to recently published documents, may be looking to accept Bitcoin at its item-exchange lockers. According to an application released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday, UPS is exploring a system of locker banks that will accept digital currency. According to the patent, “The filing outlines a system of lockers where a party trading or selling an item can leave it in the locker for a buyer to pick up at their convenience. Some of these lockers may be configured to accept payments if the parties are renting the locker.”

Amazon is no stranger to innovative patent filings. However, its latest patent moves away from the futuristic vision of drone deliveries and moves towards the simplistic aspect of tracking warehouse workers. In theory, Amazon’s proposed technology would emit ultrasonic sound pulses and radio transmissions to track where an employee’s hands were in relation to inventory bins, and provide “haptic feedback” to steer the worker toward the correct bin. The aim, Amazon says in the patent, is to “streamline time consuming tasks, like responding to orders and packaging them for speedy delivery. With guidance from a wristband, workers could fill orders faster.”

A self-driving truck, operated by tech startup Embark, completed a test of a full cross-country journey. The truck is a modified Peterbilt tractor, outfitted with an array of sensors and guided by self-driving software. During its journey, the truck traveled 2,400 miles over five days along the length of Interstate 10, which span the southern United States. While there was a driver behind the wheel at all times, Embark’s onboard technology handled nearly all of the highway driving. Embark’s current system represents Level 2 automation, where the driver is required to actively monitor the vehicle’s progress as it drives itself on the highway.

DHL Global Forwarding expanded its offices along the US and Mexican border, investing in staff and operations in San Diego, CA, Nogales and Tucson, AZ, and El Paso, Laredo, and McAllen, TX. Industries along the border that should see an increase include pharmaceuticals, engineering, and biotechnology. The border area has manufacturing and a large US military presence. According to DHL, “these six stations are located in some of the most trade-driven metropolitan areas along the US-Mexico border.” The six stations alone employ 300+ staff. DHL Global Forwarding provides air freight, ocean freight, U.S.-Mexico customs brokerage, warehousing, vendor management inventory, bonded warehouse and domestic transportation services.

The Hershey Company is joining the fight to end deforestation in its supply chain. The commitment includes two fundamental components: no new deforestation for cocoa through a strict commitment not to source cocoa from anywhere in the world where new deforestation has occurred, effective immediately; and agroforestry to support shade-grown cocoa through tree planting programs. Hershey joins the likes of Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez, Cargill, and Olam, which have all signed an agreement in which they acknowledge that their cocoa supply chains and procurement practices have contributed to the destruction of forests. The agreement indicates that these companies will work together to develop a solution to the problem, which will be no easy task.

According to a recent government report, truck drivers lose an estimated $1,281 to $1,534 a year and put themselves at higher risk for crashes because of unexpected wait times on loading docks. When normalized across the industry, it brings the total income loss close to $1.3 billion because of detention. Detention time is generally defined as the minutes or hours truckers wait beyond what they anticipate needing to load or unload freight. An industry rule of thumb often included in shipper contracts is anything over a two-hour wait is considered detention time. Industrywide, driver detention time also reduces for-hire motor carriers’ yearly net income by $250.6 million to $302.9 million, according to the report.

And finally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has moved into the second phase of environmental review for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program. PANYNJ entered a $23.7 million agreement with Cross Harbor Partners for a Tier II Environmental Impact Statement that will evaluate two preferred options to move freight across New York Harbor. It is expected to take up to three years to complete. The two options to be examined are the construction of a cross harbor freight tunnel and the expansion of PANYNJ’s existing railcar float operation. Considering that the PANYNJ is expected to reach record container volumes this year, the time is right for expansion.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, the Olympics, and the song of the week, David Bowie’s Starman.

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