This Week in Logistics News (August 31 – September 6)

logistics newsIt’s that time of year again. And no, I don’t mean back to school or the home stretch of the baseball season. I mean football season is kicking off. And once again, my hometown Patriots are set to raise another Super Bowl banner on opening night. In a step away from the norm, the NFL season did not kick off with the defending Super Bowl champions hosting the Thursday night game. My guess is that the league was tired of Thursday night openers in Foxboro and wanted to let a new team enjoy the limelight. The Patriots will have a different look this year after the much-reported retirement of all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski. But, let’s hope that the juggernaut can keep rolling and bring home Lombardi trophy number 7. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

UPS has partnered with electric vehicle tech start-up Tevva to produce a new line of electric vehicles in the UK. The 15 vehicles offer an extended driving range when compared to traditional electric vehicles. The new trucks can switch between hybrid and fully electric modes for a total range of up to 250 miles, with the same cargo carrying capacity of same-sized, diesel-powered trucks. The company’s traditional electric trucks have a range of about 60 miles, so this is considerably beneficial to the company. The trucks will default to hybrid mode but can switch to fully electric when required to do so, such as in emission-free zones or densely populated city centers. The new hybrid truck can also carry a lot more packages than its fully electric counterparts. So far, UPS has taken delivery of 15 of these vans serving customers in both Tamworth and Southampton.

With new tariffs looming, retailers are getting ahead of importing goods for the upcoming holiday season. As a result, the Port of Los Angeles is getting slammed with cargo. The ships that are coming in to the port are starting to pile up, as retailers front load at the West Coast’s busiest port. In the last few weeks alone, more than a quarter of a million televisions from China have been imported. According to the port, the surge in these types of shipments is a month ahead of the norm. And while President Trump has pushed back the tariff on television imports, the announcement came after orders were already placed. In light of the recently enacted tariffs, many US retailers are refusing to raise prices to offset costs due the fear of a decline in sales. This is certainly an interesting story to watch as the holiday season approaches.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to supply chains and the apparel and footwear market is taking notice. As I wrote about last month, Adidas is taking a stand when it comes to sustainable footwear. Now, a new and unexpected entrant to the recycled footwear space is emerging. DHL Express and online retailer mybudapester.com have joined forces to launch a limited edition “DHL 1” sneaker. The toe cap of the sneaker, which is modeled after the Sonra Proto by Hikmet Sugoer, is made from recycled DHL shipping bags. The tag also comes from DHL and is made from the metal of a 33-year-old Boeing 757 cargo plane.

FedEx is once again being investigated by the Chinese government. Over the last few months the Chinese police have investigated a few incidents involving FedEx. The first one was over failure to deliver packages to the Chinese offices of telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Instead, the packages were redirected to the US, which FedEx said happened in error. And just last month, there was another investigation into the discovery of a gun in a package sent from the US to China. The latest investigation involves the suspected illegal shipment of a parcel containing knives to Hong Kong China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday that Chinese authorities had begun an investigation into FedEx for “illegally accepting controlled knives to be sent to Hong Kong” from the mainland. But FedEx said the shipment in question “was handled correctly via standard security protocol.”

The ELD mandate is nearly two years old but is still making news. The big news this time around is that the regulation will take full force later this year when an exemption for older e-log systems is set to expire. Motor carriers that continue to use grandfathered systems known as automatic onboard recording devices, or AOBRDs, have until Dec. 16 to update their onboard technology to compliant ELDs. While many companies have already made the transition, others are still lagging. According to experts, aspects of the process can be more time-consuming than might be expected. Technology suppliers warned that a rush near the deadline could result in delays.

After 144 years, the USPS will leave the United Postal Union (UPU) next month barring a last-minute agreement. Later this month, members of the 192-member UN body will meet in Geneva for only the third ever “extraordinary Congress.” The US State Department has submitted an official proposal to the union to allow the US to self-declare international postage pricing and to decide on subsidy levels. If the UPU rejects the proposal, the USPS would leave the union 17 days later. President Trump has hinted at the departure, saying that certain “current international postal practices in the UPU do not align with United States economic and national security interests.”

And finally, demand for trucks lifted spot truckload freight volumes and rates to monthly highs in the last week of August, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. The number of van, reefer, and flatbed loads posted from August 26 to Sept. 1 increased 7 percent compared to the previous week, while truck posting activity dipped 2.4 percent heading into Labor Day weekend. Van load-to-truck ratios were notably strong and hit 3.0 as a national average on Wednesday, August 28. Van rates tend to rise when the ratio exceeds 2.5, which is where the average settled for the week. Dorian’s effects on supply chains came late in the week and had little impact on national trendlines during the reporting period. Rates on 73 of DAT’s Top 100 biggest van lanes by volume were higher, 17 lanes declined, and 10 were neutral compared to the previous week. While every major market east of the Mississippi River reflected stronger volumes last week, Memphis stood out with a 15 percent gain in available loads and an average outbound rate of $2.15 per mile, up 4 cents.

Interested in benchmarking your omni-channel last mile capabilities? Participate in this year’s survey to see the results. Click here to take the 10 minute survey.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, the beginning of football season, and the song of the week, Times Like These by the Foo Fighters.

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