This Week in Logistics News (October 27 – November 2)

logistics newsFor the 4th time in the last 15 years, the Red Sox are the World Series champs! The funny thing is I made a very specific bet a long time ago. To be exact, the year the was 2001, at the beginning of the baseball season and the end of my senior year of college. One of my best friends, who had developed the nickname Yogi because he always wore a Yankees hat, and I were discussing the Red Sox and the World Series. The “Curse of the Bambino was still looming large at that point, and we both assumed that the Sox would not win for a quite a while. So, one night over a couple of drinks, we decided to make things interesting. I bet him that on the 100th anniversary of the Red Sox last World Series victory that they would win again. Little did I know that they would win 3 championships in the interim (including the Curse-breaking 2004 Sox). Fast forward 17 years and the Red Sox are World Champions again, and my friend owes me $1,000. I’ll let you know if he pays up. And now, on to this week’s logistics news.

Thomson Reuters has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Integration Point, a Charlotte, North Carolina based provider of global trade management (GTM) solutions that provides regulatory information and trade management capabilities for more than 200 countries on a single web-based platform. Integration Point provides solutions for import/export management, product classification, free trade agreement qualification, and more. Clint Reiser, GTM analyst for ARC Advisory Group stated, “Thomson Reuters’ acquisition of Integration Point will serve as a great complement to the company’s existing ONESOURCE Global Trade solution. Integration Point offers a strong solution, and its strength in North America and global presence complements Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE GTM solution’s existing strength in the Latin America market.”

UPS and the city of Seattle have announced a pilot project that will help to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution concerns. The delivery company’s drivers will begin using electric pedal-assist cargo bicycles with a customized modular trailer attached to the back. The bike’s top speed is 20 mph, and it is designed to run for more than 12 hours before needing to be recharged. The battery-powered electric motor enables the driver to use the bike for considerably longer distances than a conventional bike. While UPS has used electric bikes in multiple cities, the modular boxes and trailers allow it to expand the delivery capabilities. UPS is partnering with Seattle, and if the experiment is successful, plans are to expand the initial route and add others throughout the city.

As I reported 3 weeks ago, the new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) is close to ratification. In that report, I mentioned that at least six member states must ratify the TPP-11 for it to take effect. Well, on December 30, the TPP-11 will be official. The trade deal takes effect 60 days after at least six countries complete the ratification process, and Australia has indicated that it has ratified the agreement. Once the trade pact comes into force, a TPP committee of ministerial-level officials from member states will meet and decide on needed steps for countries hoping to join, such as Thailand and the UK. These countries will join the original 11 nations, which are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

With “Singles Day” approaching in China on November 11, e-commerce firms are ramping up operations. To that end, a Chinese logistics firm (Cainiao) majority-owned by Alibaba has opened a warehouse with over 700 robots working in it to deal with the demand from Singles Day. Cainiao runs warehouses and works with delivery companies on last mile deliveries. Automation in the warehouse is a key initiative for Cainiao, as the company aims to reach its publicly stated goal to eventually deliver to anyone in China within 24 hours and internationally in 72 hours.

As grocery delivery becomes a bigger market, companies are trying to figure out the best way to automate certain aspects of the process. Albertsons is looking to automate the process of putting the actual baskets together. In the past, when people order their groceries from an Albertsons store online, an employee would walk around the store picking up items to pack for delivery. This process is incredibly time consuming as stores are laid out to motivate shoppers to browse every aisle, not just grab what they need. So, Albertsons has announced a trial partnership with Takeoff Technologies, which recently partnered with Sodano’s in the Miami area. Albertsons will portion off selected locations, where it will store a number of items popular with online orders. Artificial intelligence-enabled technology and conveyors will then bring the goods to an Albertsons employee, who will manually compile the order.

Now that Halloween is over, retailers can fully embrace the holiday shopping season. As click and collect becomes more of the preferred method for shopping, Nordstrom’s is making it a priority. One of the biggest reasons consumers choose click and collect is to avoid walking through the stores to find items, especially as the holiday traffic flows into these stores. From December 3 through Christmas Eve, Nordstrom is offering “early bird” pick up, enabling shoppers who check off their gift lists by clicking a button to get their presents starting at 8 am. Though the stores will still be closed, staffers will bring the items out to the curb. And for those shoppers who want to make a midnight run, Nordstrom is bringing back its round-the-clock curbside service at 23 locations. That means customers can head to one of those stores at any time of the day or night between December 16 and 24 to pick up an online purchase.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week (again), We Are the Champions by Queen (complete with World Series highlights).

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