This Week in Logistics News (February 16 – 22)

logistics newsLast year, I wrote about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which upon further review, may be significantly larger than previously thought. The plastic floating waste contains at least 79,000 tons of material spread over 1.6 million square kilometers. While a lot of the materials come from humans’ ocean activities, such as abandoned fishing nets and gear and lost shipping containers and/or their contents, there are clearly other items in the patch. If not in the great garbage patch, plastic items are still causing lots of problems for marine life. The plastic six-pack holder is one that is especially harmful, as they tangle the wings of sea birds, choke seals, and warp the shells of growing sea turtles. Saltwater Brewery from Delray Beach has worked with a start-up called E6PR to develop six-pack rings that can either biodegrade or serve as a snack for wildlife. These new six-pack holders will not cause irreversible damage to the animals or ecosystem in the ocean. Hopefully, most people will properly dispose of the rings; but if not, at least there is a sustainable solution. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

As I wrote about earlier this year, many companies are looking at ways to improve their supply chain sustainability. One of the largest and most complex supply chains is taking a major step forward in terms of sustainability and green initiatives. Amazon has set an aggressive plan for reducing supply chain carbon emissions. The new plan is dubbed “Shipment Zero” and will leverage improvements in electric vehicles, aviation bio fuels, reusable packaging, and renewable energy to reach a goal of net zero carbon emissions for 50 percent of shipments by 2030. This is all part of Amazon’s long-term plan to have net zero carbon emissions for all deliveries and to power 100 percent of its global infrastructure using 100 percent renewable energy.

Amazon has done a lot to become less reliant on carriers such as UPS and FedEx for moving goods around the world and to your front door. The company has launched Prime Air, which uses Prime-branded Boeing 767-300s operated by Amazon’s cargo partners. The service is designed to move products around the country between fulfillment centers. Now, the company is using its Prime jets to handle even more of its own shipping. According to recent estimates, Amazon is handling 26 percent of its shipping for e-commerce orders. Part of its air expansion includes last year’s announcement of the $1.5 billion air hub that is to be built at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

Toward the end of last year, I wrote about Kroger partnering with Ocado to build a number of automated warehouses to advance Kroger’s grocery delivery services. The two companies are advancing their partnership and have identified central Florida and the Mid-Atlantic as the next two areas where they will build automated warehouses for online grocery fulfillment. Kroger and Ocado so far have announced three customer fulfillment centers of the 20 that they aim to build over the next three years as part of an agreement unveiled in May. In announcing plans for the two new facilities on Tuesday, Kroger didn’t specify locations or give timetables for construction.

Volvo has delivered its first electric trucks to customers in Sweden. The first two trucks were delivered as a refuse truck to a waste and recycling company and another as a delivery truck for a logistics company. The Volvo FL Electric trucks are part of a pre-series of Beta models developed in collaboration with selected customers. The production of the FL Electric and the larger Volvo FE Electric will be at first limited to a few trucks for European markets and are expected to be delivered by the second half of 2019. The recipients of the first two trucks were waste company Ronova and logistics company DB Schenker.

One area where the US has been lacking is high speed trains. To combat this, Amtrak has been looking to make improvements to its routes. The company has announced that it will now try to boost ridership by revamping its national network of passenger trains, which could bring changes to its long-distance routes. The company is trying to target the fastest growing parts of the country with more trains moving between major cities. This could be bad news for the freight industry though. A few years ago, new rules went into effect that required freight trains to pull over to allow Amtrak trains to pass as part of an initiative improve Amtrak’s on-time performance. If ridership does increase, and Amtrak adds more express trains between cities, this could delay freight services even more. It will be interesting to watch how Amtrak and the freight railways deal with this.

Ahead of this year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Showcase (KBIS) in Las Vegas, LG Electronics USA has announced a major enhancement to its portfolio of wi-fi connected smart appliances. Namely, the company has integrated Amazon Dash functionality into all of its wi-fi connected smart appliances. The connection between the two companies is via an app. To enable the Dash Replenishment function on LG appliances, owners use the LG SmartThinQ app to link to their Amazon account and set up replenishment ordering. After setup is complete, the appliances do their own ordering when they run low, automatically ordering and delivering pre-selected supplies right to the customers door.

And finally, according to a new report from cargo theft recording firm SensiGuard, cargo thefts across the US were down 19 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, along with a 2 percent decrease in theft values. The firm recorded a total of 592 cargo thefts in the US last year worth an average of $142,342. The fourth quarter was the most active for thieves with 171 thefts, compared to 159 thefts in the third quarter, 145 in the second quarter and 117 in the first quarter. For the first time since 2009, electronics were the most-stolen product type throughout the year, accounting for 20 percent of all thefts. Electronics thefts rose 33 percent from 2017, overtaking food and drinks and home and garden products for the top spot.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Octopus’s Garden by the Beatles.