The Super Bowl is here, and for what seems like the yearly norm, Tom Brady is playing once again. But this time, things are different for a number of reasons. First, and most obvious, is that Brady is not playing for the Patriots. Instead, he will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into battle against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 55th modern Super Bowl. Second, the Super Bowl usually draws anywhere from 65,000 to 100,000 spectators, depending on the venue. This year, with COVID restrictions in place, the Super Bowl will only allow for 25,000 fans to attend, with 30,000 cutouts filling the rest of the seats. And third, for the first time in Super Bowl history, a team will be playing in its home stadium. Super Bowl locations are determined years in advance and are usually a “neutral” site. Well, this year, the Buccaneers will get to play in their home stadium. However, the way Super Bowl tickets are distributed will negate the crowd aspect of home field advantage. And to make the field seem truly neutral, the NFL has announced that Tampa Bay will not be allowed to fire the cannons from their famed pirate ship after touchdowns and big plays. So, settle in, make some snacks, open your favorite beverage, and get ready for kick-off. But for now, let’s move on to this week’s logistics news.
- Amazon fighting its biggest labor battle in history
- Automakers idle more plants as chip shortage worsens
- ‘Milkman model’ grocery service delivers brand-name goods in reusable containers
- Uber agrees to buy alcohol delivery service Drizly for $1.1 billion
- Coca-Cola European Partners joins EV100 initiative
- Keurig Dr. Pepper signs pacts to move toward circular economy with plastics
- Regulators ask Biden for ‘immediate’ dockworker vaccinations
- Porsche 3D prints parts that lighter and stronger
Amazon is fighting the biggest labor battle in its history on US soil as employees are exploring options regarding unionization. Next week, the National Labor Relations Board will mail ballots to 5,805 workers in Amazon’s Bessemer, AL warehouse. The workers will have a week to decide whether they want the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to represent them. If they do decide to vote yes, and be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, they would be the first Amazon warehouse to unionize in the US. It could also be the impetus for more warehouses and distribution centers to unionize, which could hurt Amazon’s long-term growth plans. At the heart of the issue for the Bessemer warehouse is higher wages and improved working conditions. This will certainly be an interesting story to watch as it could have a serious ripple effect on Amazon locations across the country. And oh, did I mention that Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO?
The auto industry was hit hard by the COVID pandemic, with factories shutting down and production grinding to a halt. As the industry continues its recovery efforts, a new variable is threatening vehicle production: a shortage in semiconductor chips. As technology has advanced, computers run more and more aspects of vehicles. Today’s automobiles use hundreds of microprocessors and other chips to regulate their powertrains, control infotainment systems, and operate the latest digital safety systems. As the auto industry went into hibernation, the need for microchips for the consumer electronics industry surged as millions of people were forced to work and shop from home, buying new smartphones, computers, web cameras and other digital devices. With auto manufacturers racing refill depleted inventories, there are simply not enough chips to go around. And this could spread to other industries as well.
A new service in Canada is aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastics and waste from household goods. In a partnership between Loop, an online shopping platform started by US-based recycling company TerraCycle, and grocery giant Loblaw Companies, the service will deliver brand name groceries and household goods to doorsteps in reusable packaging. Items that are usually sold in single-use plastic containers such as ketchup, cereal, and ice cream, among others, will be available in refillable containers, usually glass or metal, and delivered in reusable totes. When a customer is done with the item, they simply place the empty container in the tote and Loop will pick up, sanitize, refill, and ship out the container to customers again. The program is set to launch in the Toronto region.
Home delivery is continuing to grow for just about every category. During the pandemic, one category that took off was alcohol delivery. The largest alcohol delivery service is Drizly, which was founded in 2012 and is available in more than 1,400 cities. The company has announced that it is being acquired by Uber for $1.1 billion in stock and cash. Following the completion of the transaction, Drizly’s marketplace will be integrated with the Uber Eats app and will keep the standalone Drizly app as well. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021.
As the focus on sustainability initiatives continues to grow, more and more companies are looking at electric vehicles and alternative energy sources to reduce carbon footprints. Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) has joined The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative. The goal of the EV100 is to make electric transport the new normal by 2030 by bringing together companies committed to switching their fleets to electric vehicles and installing charging infrastructure for employees and customers by 2030. CCEP has announced that it has committed to switch all of its cars and vans to EVs, or ultra-low emission vehicles where EVs are not viable, by 2030. Currently, only 5 percent of CCEP’s cars and vans are EVs or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Earlier this week, Keurig Dr. Pepper signed two regional initiatives with the Ellen MacAuthor Foundation’s global plastics pact for the US and Canada to focus on building a circular economy for plastics. As a part of signing the pact, Keurig Dr Pepper has agreed to goals including making all plastic packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. A statement released by the soda company said it “recognizes that achieving a truly circular economy for plastics requires significant systematic change, and we are eager to join these groups of diverse leaders from across sectors to ensure that plastics never become waste or pollution.”
There has been a surge of positive COVID tests for dockworkers up and down the east and west coasts. As a result, maritime regulators are pushing President Biden for immediate vaccinations for dockworkers as essential employees. In a letter sent Thursday to President Joe Biden, Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Commissioners Carl Bentzel and Daniel Maffei asked that in addition to prioritizing dockworkers for vaccines (which they also requested from the Trump administration in December), they should be given access to rapid testing to minimize port disruption while they handle record import cargo volume.
3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is an area many companies are exploring when it comes to streamlining their supply chains. Porsche is now using 3D printing to create electric vehicle drivetrain components that are lighter, stronger, and easier to work with, according to the company. The company is not using consumer 3D printers though, instead opting to use its own printing tools which can use metal as a raw material. The end result is a drive unit housing that is 10% lighter and twice as strong than it would be with cast parts.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend, the Super Bowl, and the song of the week, Blinding Lights from the halftime show’s performer, the Weeknd.