This Week in Logistics News (March 23 – 29)

logistics newsThere’s an old proverb “that all good things must come to an end.” As a New England Patriots fan, that ending came a lot sooner than I would have liked. Earlier this week, Rob Gronkowski announced that he is retiring from the NFL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player quite like Gronk. When healthy, he was the most dominant force on the field; he was a punishing blocker, reliable receiver, and nearly impossible to tackle. Watching Gronk go into “Gronk Mode” was a spectacle that never got old. His dedication to the game was sometimes questioned, given his “party boy” persona off the field. But he was the ultimate warrior on the field, and Bill Belichick’s praise for him after his retirement announcement speaks volumes for the player that he was. Whether he ends up in the WWE or on the big screen (or both, most likely), he will certainly be missed on the field in Foxboro. Let’s hope he gets the itch to return mid-season and chases ring number 4. Thanks for the memories Gronk. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

Existing flood waters in Nebraska were met with more rain, and the levy system in the area remains compromised. Sections of routes I-29 and I-680 throughout Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri have already been closed for a week. The latest rain will only complicate matters. Many trucks in the area are tied up with relief efforts, which has led to a serious capacity crunch. As a result, shippers have seen tender rejections skyrocket. Trucking companies are heading to farms to help out with flooding issues as the planting season arrives. The increase in tender rejections has pushed shippers to the spot market to move their freight. This is keeping rates high, and until the flooding subsides, will probably remain that way for the near-term.

Postmates is launching a party in a handful of US cities. The new feature, called Postmates Party, lets customers within a neighborhood pool their orders together. More importantly, Postmates will make the delivery for free. Using the Postmates app, customers can click on the Postmates Party tab, which shows trending merchants where people in their neighborhood are ordering from at that exact moment. If the customer joins the party, they get free delivery. However, there is only a five-minute window in which customers can place their order. So, if they miss the window, they miss the party. Currently, Postmates Party is available in Chicago, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Orange County, and Philadelphia.

UPS is moving beyond its traditional business of delivering packages to your home. The company is preparing for a test service in the US that will dispatch nurses to vaccinate adults in their homes. In the test, UPS will package and ship the vaccine to one of its UPS store franchises. A home health nurse contracted by UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit Marken will collect the insulated package, transport it to the patient’s home, and administer the vaccine. UPS did not disclose which vaccines it would be using in the project, but drug and vaccine maker Merck & Co has said it is looking at partnering with the company for the initiative.

In other UPS healthcare news, the company is partnering with Matternet on a drone initiative that will deliver medical samples via unmanned drones at WakeMed’s hospital in Raleigh, NC. With the approval of the FAA and North Carolina’s department of transportation, UPS and Matternet will conduct daily flights that transport medical samples. A medical professional will load the medical sample onto the drone, and from there, the drone will make the flight on a pre-determined path to a landing pad. This is not UPS’ first venture into delivering medical supplies via drone. The shipping giant previously partnered with Zipline to test medical deliveries via drone in remote communities.

Ending deforestation in the food supply chain has been a hot topic lately. Mars is pledging to make its cocoa supply chain “deforestation free” by the year 2025. The company has shared detailed action plans for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, which account for over 65 percent of the world’s cocoa growth. Mars has also shared timelines for ending deforestation in Indonesia, Brazil, and Cameroon. The company has already GPS mapped 24 percent of its global cocoa supply chain to farm level and plans to reach 100 percent by 2025. Other initiatives from Mars include disclosure of cocoa country of origin, sourcing only from suppliers who meet their responsible cocoa specification of traceability, completion of risk assessments for Ecuador and other countries they source from by 2020, and the use of third parties to monitor and verify the success of the program.

As the EU braces for Brexit, we have seen countries stockpiling goods and making alternate transportation plans. Ireland has announced that it is taking preventative measures for the changing global trade climate. While Ireland’s cruise tourism may be rising, Dublin’s port will halve the number of cruise calls allowed there to provide more space for cargo ships. Post-Brexit, more cargo from EU countries will flow directly to Ireland, rather than being trans-shipped to or from the UK. Starting in 2021, Dublin will allocate space during the prime summer months for only two cruise ships per week. Moreover, those ships will only be allowed to dock on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Eamonn O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Port Co., has said that the move is not directly attributable to Brexit though. The port is reallocating nearly 20 acres for new border posts and inspection facilities, which contributed to his decision.

Domino’s Pizza is no stranger to delivery innovation, partnering with Ford for autonomous vehicle deliveries and creating public delivery hotspots. And the pizza company is at it again. Domino’s Pizza is working with Xevo Inc. to launch an ordering platform pre-loaded in cars starting in 2019. Customers will be able to order Domino’s with their vehicle’s touchscreen. Once they log in, they can save time using the “Easy Order” function or re-ordering their last order. The order can then be tracked using the Domino’s Tracker. Domino’s sees this as way for people to make dinner easier, either “from the car waiting for the kids to finish soccer practice or on your way home from work.”

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, The Warrior by Scandal.

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