This Week in Logistics News (July 21 – 17)

logistics newsI’m back at it, after a two-week vacation to Copenhagen, Denmark. I have to say that Copenhagen was one of the cleanest and family-friendliest cities I have ever been to. In all, it was an amazing trip. As an analyst that covers logistics, I feel as though there are two points I have to make regarding my trip. First, the metro line that took us from the airport to our apartment, and the only line we used throughout the two weeks, was completely autonomous. And it stayed completely “on schedule.” The fun part of the autonomous train was that my kids could feel like they were driving it as they sat in the very front row with only the view of the track in front of them. According to my brother-in-law, they recently placed stickers on the front of the car that resemble controls so kids can pretend to drive the train. To say my kids loved it is an understatement. Second, we took the kids to the Experimentarium (Children’s Museum and Science Museum hybrid). One of the exhibits was all about CO2 emissions for shipping things around the world. The kids could choose modes and destinations, and then load them onto a conveyor for shipment, and see how the goods would travel and what the environmental impact was. It was pretty amazing. And now, on to this week’s logistics news.

As I wrote about earlier this week, the Trump administration is escalating trade wars around the globe. This has resulted in prices being raised for many US companies, with consumers feeling the price crunch. The latest companies to indicate the trade war will raise prices are Chevy and Coca-Cola. Both companies have said that the rising price of European aluminum and steel is expected to pinch their bottom lines, and these increases will be passed on to their customers. Coca-Cola Chief Executive James Quincey said that the cost increases are disruptive to the customers, and that “the tariffs on the metals, it’s one of many factors that cost us to go out in the middle of the year and announce price increase.”

In another tariff-related story, White House advisors were nervous that President Trump would impose a 25 percent tariff on roughly $200 billion in foreign-made cars this year. However, after a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU appears to have won a trade war cease-fire, at least in the short term. In return for a pledge by US President Donald Trump to suspend the threat of an extra tariff on European cars, the EU reheated proposals to bolster transatlantic economic ties and threw in a vow to buy more American soybeans. Trump also wants the EU to import more liquefied-natural gas from the US. This part has more questions than answers, as the impact would be felt by Germany, the EU’s biggest economy. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Amazon has been in the news a lot lately for a wide variety of patents won, from aerial warehouses to drones to warehouse innovations. Chalk up another patent for warehouse innovations, as the company has apparently won a patent for robotic arms that can toss items around the fulfillment center. The patent describes robotic arms or manipulators that can use sensors to identify objects, figure out how best to grab onto them, calculate the required trajectories and fling the objects into chutes or bins. The patent reads:

“The tossing strategy may be based at least in part upon a database containing information about the item, characteristics of the item, and/or similar items, such as information indicating tossing strategies that have been successful or unsuccessful for such items in the past.”

Amazon has expanded its grocery delivery service throughout New York City and parts of Florida. The service is now available for Prime members via Prime Now in certain parts of New York City, starting with lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, along with parts of Long Island, Amazon said. In Florida, the delivery option is initially rolling out in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach. Considering the competitive nature of grocery delivery in these two areas, it is not surprising to see Amazon stepping things up.

Speaking of home delivery, Target is ramping things up after its $550 million acquisition of Shipt. The company will begin rolling out delivery service for thousands of products by the end of the month in New York. Target said Thursday that the same-day delivery of items like groceries and toys will start on July 31 in Hudson Valley and Kingston. It will launch in other areas, including Long Island, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, next month. Consumers must sign up for Shipt, regularly priced at $99 for an annual membership. Those that sign up before Aug. 14 will pay $49.

As the online grocery business heats up, Hy-Vee does not want to be left out. The company is working with Instacart to expand its current grocery e-commerce service to more than two dozen additional markets. Customers shopping Hy-Vee through Instacart can, just like with Aisles Online, share grocery preferences, choose a delivery window and pay for orders via Instacart’s mobile app or website. Deliveries can be scheduled up to four days in advance.

COSCO Shipping Lines has been hit by a cyber-attack on its North American operations. Although the company reportedly identifies the problem as a ransomware attack in internal communications, for public consumption it is referring to it as a “network breakdown within America Regions” and is telling customers this:

“Due to local network breakdown within our America regions, local email and network telephone cannot work properly at the moment. For safety precautions, we have shut down the connections with other regions for further investigations.”

According to the latest figures from IATA’s World Air Transport Statistics report, FedEx extended its position as the world’s busiest freight-parcel carrier in 2017. Overall, the top 25 carriers saw cargo traffic increase by 7.2% year on year to 166.5bn scheduled freight tonne kms (FTK). FedEx was again the busiest cargo carrier as it recorded a 7.2% year-on-year increase in cargo traffic to 16.8bn FTKs. In its full-year results, the express operator said that its performance had been boosted by the $4.9bn acquisition of TNT Express in the middle of 2016.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, which is from a movie I watched on the flight home with my kids, Remember Me from Coco.