As sports around the world continue their imposed hibernation, the companies that supply athletes and teams with sports equipment are shifting their focus. Rather than producing uniforms, equipment, and apparel, many companies are now producing masks for healthcare professionals as supplies continue to run low. Nike is re-purposing sneakers to make face masks and shields for healthcare workers. Under Armour is making no-sew face masks for hospital workers. Bauer, and its sister companies Cascade and Maverik, usually churn out hockey skates, helmets, and face shields; but now, the company is making larger face shields to be used by hospital workers as extra protection against splatter that could contain coronavirus. New Balance, makers of athletic shoes, are manufacturing cloth face masks for doctors, nurses and hospital staff. Fanatics, a company that normally makes baseball uniforms, is using that fabric to manufacture masks and gowns for hospitals. And the list is not limited to sports equipment manufacturers. Apple has pledged to make millions of face masks for doctors and those on the front lines. Carhartt announced it will begin making 50,000 gowns and 2.5 million masks. Gap and Brooks Brothers are also joining the fight and making masks, gowns, and scrubs. In this time of trouble, it is nice to see companies together for the greater good. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- Amazon in the news:
- Instacart’s new features make it easier to get groceries delivered in a crisis
- Back-to-school season in jeopardy with retail imports plunging
- Global air cargo capacity falls for first time in 3 years
- Food trucks to be allowed at rest areas
- FMCSA extends hours-of-service suspension through May 15
- Shipt announces bonuses for shoppers
- Nestle expanding blockchain to coffee brand
Amazon has announced that it will divert sales of masks and other medical supplies to hospitals and government entities. In a notice to sellers on its marketplace, Amazon said products like N95 masks, face shields, surgical gowns, and other essential personal protective equipment would be made exclusively available for hospitals and government organizations. According to Amazon, the company is donating N95 masks that it acquires to healthcare workers or selling them at cost through its business and government sales program. Amazon is also pledging to step up safety precautions at its warehouses. As part of the screening process, the company has begun to check the temperature of more than 100,000 of its 800,000 employees daily.
In other Amazon-related news, the company will halt delivery service for non-Amazon packages, a service that competes directly with UPS and FedEx. While the service, known as Amazon Shipping, was only available in a handful of cities, the company announced that it will pause on June 1. Under the program, Amazon drivers would pick up packages from a business and deliver them to consumers rather than ship them from an Amazon warehouse. According to sources, the program is being suspended because Amazon needs to dedicate its resources to handle the surge in its own orders. The company will likely evaluate whether to re-start the program when the coronavirus pandemic is under control.
Instacart has made a lot of coronavirus-related news over the last couple of weeks, including hiring up to 300,000 full-service shoppers and launching an ahead-of-schedule program to leave groceries on customers doorsteps. And the company is at it again, introducing a pair of new delivery options during the coronavirus pandemic. Both of the programs, Fast & Flexible and Order Ahead, are designed to increase the number of available delivery windows. Fast & Flexible is designed for customers that need their shopping done as soon as possible. This option matches the order with the first available shopper rather than a specific delivery window. Order Ahead is designed for customers that are planning for the longer term, allowing them to place their order up to two weeks in advance of delivery. Previously, Instacart had allowed customers to order up to seven days in advance.
With schools closed for the foreseeable future, and the likelihood of schools being closed for the remainder of the school year, it is hard to even think about back-to-school shopping. However, this is the time that retailers start planning for one of their busiest seasons. The 2020 back-to-school season is in jeopardy due to plunging imports at American ports. According to a report by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, imports at container ports for major American retailers fell to the lowest level in five years in March. The plunging imports are causing ripples in the supply chain which could impact the seasonal cycles of retailers, including the 2020 holiday season.
Global air cargo capacity has fallen for the first time in three years. According to the latest numbers from the International Air Transport Association (IATA, airfreight volume fell 1.9 percent year-over-year in February. This marks the 15th straight month of declining volume. Air cargo traffic on the Asia-North America trade lanes was down 2.4 percent year-over-year in February due to factory closures and bottlenecks at warehouses and airports in Asia, according to IATA. But with capacity down, airfreight rates are higher and those still looking to procure air freight are forced to pay higher prices. The February decreases in demand are largely the result of the coronavirus’ impact on manufacturing in China.
While many people have been told to work from home, for certain jobs, this is not a possibility. One of those jobs is truck drivers. Trucks continue to make the world go around, delivering all the essential items that we need. One challenge for truck drivers has been getting a meal on the go; the majority of fast food restaurants across the country have resorted to offering drive-thru service only. Well, an 18-wheeler simply does not fit in the drive-thru lane. Some restaurants have begun offering curbside pick-up for truckers to get them back on the road as quick as possible. And now, the federal government has told states that they may allow food trucks to operate during rest areas to help feed truck drivers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Federal Highway Administration on April 3 issued a notice to state departments of transportation that the agency is suspending enforcement measures under the Federal-aid Highway Program for states that choose to permit commercial food trucks to operate and sell food, in accordance with state laws, in designated federally funded Interstate Highway rest areas.
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an extension to its unprecedented suspension of hours of service for commercial vehicles. This exemption will now expire on May 15, 2020, as a response to the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 outbreak. The FMCSA’s declaration provides for regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicles transporting the following: medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores; immediate precursor raw materials — such as paper, plastic or alcohol — that are required and to be used for the manufacture of essential items; fuel; liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems; equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine; persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes; and persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services.
The coronavirus pandemic is certainly taking its toll on the global economy. For many people, the gig economy was a way to support themselves or at the very least, provide supplemental income when needed. Many gig economy employees staged walkouts demanding hazard pay and better working conditions during this time. And while it did have its own issues with a walkout, Shipt, the crowd-sourced same-day delivery start-up acquired by Target, announced it would give bonuses to its most active shoppers. The company is handing out $100 bonuses to shoppers who completed between 50 and 100 orders last month and $200 bonuses to shoppers who handled more than 100 orders. And while the bonuses added up to less than the $5 per order in hazard pay asked for by a loosely organized group of Shipt workers, it could be a step in the right direction.
Nestle SA is expanding its use of blockchain in its coffee supply chain. The company is using blockchain to trace the supply chain of its Zoegas coffee brand, which is sold in Sweden. The coffee uses Rainforest certified arabica beans from Brazil, Colombia, and Rawanda. Nestle has partnered with the Rainforest Alliance on the project. The group provides Nestle with certification information about the producers that qualify to carry the Rainforest Alliance’s certification seal. Customers can scan a QR code on the coffee’s packaging to see information about the farmers, the time of harvest, a transaction certificate for the specific shipments, and the roasting period.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Matisyahu’s One Day.