This Week in Logistics News (November 16 -22)

logistics newsSustainability continues to be big news in the global supply chain, and many global brands have put timeframes on sustainability efforts. One notable example is McDonald’s USA, which pledged to make its coffee supply chain 100 percent sustainable by the end of 2020. I saw late last week that the company had achieved its goal a full year ahead of schedule. Coffee for McDonald’s USA restaurants is verified sustainable through McDonald’s McCafé Sustainability Improvement Platform (SIP), a coffee sustainability program developed in partnership with Conservation International, or sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Through the program, McDonald’s has invested in the future of coffee growers and their communities by offering training, community support, reducing water consumption, and planting new coffee trees while rehabilitating more. In the grand scheme, this is a step in the right direction for a more sustainable supply chain. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

logistics newsWalmart Canada is teaming up with DLT Labs to launch a new blockchain-based freight and payment network. According to the two companies, this will be the world’s largest full production blockchain for any industrial application. The new system will use a blockchain ledger to track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation among Walmart Canada and its carriers. All of Walmart Canada’s third-party carriers, which deliver merchandise to more than 400 stores daily, will be live by February 1, 2020. According to Walmart Canada and DLT Labs, the new blockchain solution “manages, integrates, and synchronizes all the supply chain and logistics data in real time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger. The solution also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments and settlement.”

logistics newsTwo years ago, in what I can only describe as the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, Target acquired home-delivery start-up Shipt for $550 million. At the time, Shipt was known mostly as an online grocery delivery company. But Target has used the service to use delivering a lot more than groceries. And now, the company is integrating Shipt into its mobile app, making it Target’s version of Amazon Prime Now. Customers can shop for 65,000 items through the Target app and have it delivered the same day. Customers can choose a membership model or pay a $9.99 delivery fee per order. And while the stand-alone Shipt app is not going away (it is still the best bet for ordering groceries), the integration allows Target to offer Shipt services to a wider array of customers.

Grocery delivery continues to grow, and the trend has been for grocery chains to partner with third party and crowdsourced delivery companies to complete the final mile. GIANT Food Stores is taking a different approach however, as it has partnered with its sister company Peapod to enhance its omni-channel operations. The two companies, which are owned by Ahold Delhaize, are rolling out their GIANT DIRECT grocery delivery and pickup services with the slogan “Direct from us, to you.” Using the logistics arm of Peapod, customers can shop online at the GIANT site, and then choose a delivery timeframe or in-store pick-up. Peapod will still continue to operate as a stand-alone grocery delivery brand in the Midwest.

As interest in drone deliveries continues to pick up steam, many companies and municipalities are looking at ways to capitalize on the technology. Toronto-based Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) is partnering with Air Canada and the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) to launch the world’s first airport-based, drone-delivery hub. Edmonton Regional Airports Authority and DDC will build flight routes from EIA using the drone firm’s DroneSpot takeoff and landing zones utilizing DDC’s drone flight infrastructure. DDC’s Sparrow X1000 cargo drone and DDC’s proprietary FLYTE management system can be used for the transportation of medical supplies, food, automotive parts and general parcels. DDC and the airport authority will implement, promote and market drone delivery services in controlled airspace.

Nikola Corporation is reporting a breakthrough in battery technology that could remove the range barriers of lithium-ion batteries. According to the company, the latest battery could allow ranges of up to 800 miles between charges for battery electric trucks with a 40 percent weight reduction and 50 percent lower cost. For hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks, the range between charges increases to 1,000 miles. One issue with these types of batteries in the past, however, was that the they contain elements that are toxic. According to Nikola, the new batteries is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle. This could be a game changer for electric trucks in the near future.

logistics newsAfter talks broke off, thousands of Canadian National Railway (CNR) employees went on strike earlier this week. Rail workers have been without a contract since July 23, say they’re concerned about long hours, fatigue and what they consider dangerous working conditions. Canada, one of the world’s biggest exporters of farm products, relies on its two main railways to move canola and wheat over the vast distances from western farms to ports. The Crude oil shippers in Alberta have also increasingly used trains in the past year to reach US refineries. The strike also threatens a crucial artery for exports of oil, chemicals, and minerals, leaving some vulnerable Prairie regions potentially without any mode of commercial transportation.

Following an investigation from DC attorney general Karl Racine’s office, charges have been brought against DoorDash, the crowdsourced food delivery service based in San Francisco, for allegedly pocketing tips meant for workers and misleading customers about where their money was going. Racine is seeking to recover millions of dollars in tip money customers paid through DoorDash over two years under its previous model, which the attorney general’s office called “deceptive.” A report from Recode at the time explained that DoorDash offers its delivery workers a guaranteed amount they will be paid for an order before accepting, but later subsidizes that amount with tips customers pay through the app. Rather than serve as a bonus for workers, the report said, customer tips went to DoorDash to offset workers’ base pay. DoorDash issued a statement, saying in part, “we strongly disagree with and are disappointed by the action taken today. Transparency is of paramount importance, which is why we publicly disclosed how our previous pay model worked. We’ve also worked with an independent third party to verify that we have always paid 100% of tips to Dashers.”

And finally, according to the Beverly, MA-based supply chain visibility provider Sensitech Inc., cargo theft across the U.S. increased in the third quarter, with thieves targeting high-value items and making off with an average value of $155,709 per incident. According to Sensitech, one of the main reasons for the increase was the availability of cargo to steal. Many companies increased imports ahead of proposed tariffs, and thus had a glut of containerized freight. Overall, thefts in the third quarter rose 13 percent in volume and 31 percent in value over the second quarter. Sensitech based its report on tracking a total of 165 confirmed cargo thefts over the third quarter nationwide, not counting thefts of assets such as trailers and containers, or of last-mile courier parcels.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, One More Cup of Coffee, the White Stripe’s take on the Bob Dylan classic.

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