Spring brings about a plethora of annual traditions. For example, yesterday was Major League Baseball’s opening day, which turned into a rainout for my hometown Red Sox. Another yearly tradition is the emergence of annual cicadas, which are found in every US state. This year, however, the annual cicadas will be joined by periodical cicadas, which emerge either every 13 or 17 years. Brood X, the largest group of 17-year annuals, will emerge from the soil in late April and early May, as ground temperatures trigger when the cicadas will come out. The cicadas rise up over a two-week period after the soil temperature has reached 65 degrees. As a 17-year periodical, these cicadas have lived underground in wingless nymph form since 2004, about a foot or two down, feeding on sap from tree roots. When they do emerge, there can be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre, which brings the brood population into the trillions. The sounds of the males can be deafening as they make their mating calls. Luckily the cicadas are more of a nuisance than anything, as they generally do not destroy crops and are unable to bite or sting. Most people consider themselves lucky to witness the phenomena. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- Impact of Suez Canal crisis could last weeks
- America’s imports are stuck on ships floating off LA
- Factory mix-up ruins up to 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses
- Samsung to use Manna drone service for delivery drop-offs in Ireland
- Ford, HP re-use 3-D printing materials in injection molding to reduce waste
- H Mart plans micro-fulfillment center to fuel online grocery
- More trucking companies leverage pay to attract drivers
- President Biden introduces $2 trillion infrastructure package
Earlier this week, the Ever Given was finally dislodged from the Suez Canal, where it brought the global trade route to a standstill for six days. Dun & Bradstreet and E2open joined together to provide a report highlighting the impact of this incident on global supply chains. According to the report, Europe is the region that will feel the strongest impact due to the blockage of the canal. Specifically, the top countries most impacted by the Suez Canal blockage include the UK, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, and Austria. Companies located in Asia will be impacted not only by the delay of shipments from Europe, but also by a shortage of empty containers returning to their region, further stalling their abilities to deliver goods around the world. In the US, the top industries most impacted by this incident include grocery stores, department stores, auto and home supply stores, hardware stores, surgical and medical equipment suppliers, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning, semiconductor, general warehousing and storage, trucking, and sporting goods.
While the shipping bottleneck from the Ever Given should begin to dissipate, another bottleneck in the US looms: port congestion. But this isn’t regular, run-of-mill congestion; earlier this week 24 container ships were anchored off the coast waiting for space at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These ships, which have a combined maximum carrying capacity nearly 10 times that of the newly freed Ever Given, are carrying tens of thousands of boxes holding millions of dollars’ worth of washing machines, medical equipment, and consumer electronics. And more ships keep arriving, making the congestion worse. Us consumer demand is leading to more imports, which keep piling up. On top of that, there is a severe shortage of railcars in Los Angeles-Long Beach is causing rail container dwell times to double.
With the approval of the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine, there was a sense of relief that the vaccination process would become a bit easier, as more doses became available across the country. Unfortunately, this week, those plans hit a little bit of snag. Workers at a plant in Baltimore manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the ingredients several weeks ago, which has contaminated up to 15 million doses of the vaccine. The error does not affect any Johnson & Johnson doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide, as they were produced in the Netherlands, where operations have been fully approved by federal regulators. This mix-up has resulted in regulators delaying authorization of the plant’s production lines, which could put up to 24 million doses in jeopardy that were expected to be delivered next month.
Samsung Electronics has partnered with drone company Manna to facilitate a contactless delivery service for its Irish customers. Manna, which has been licensed to operate in Ireland for some time, partnered with Tesco on drone home deliveries last September in Oranmore. Samsung customers who purchase from the latest range of Galaxy devices via the company’s online store in Ireland will have their order delivered using a Manna drone under the new service. The service is a first for Samsung globally, and will initially be available to customers in Oranmore. Depending on how the trial goes, Samsung noted that there are plans to expand the service nationwide “in the future.” Similar to the Tescso deliveries, the Manna drones fly at an altitude of 80 meters and a speed of over 80kph, delivering within a 2km radius in less than 3 minutes.
We have seen the impact 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, can have on supply chains, with more and more automotive companies looking into the technology to produce spare parts. And while 3D printing has its benefits, such as lighter parts, it also comes with waste. Ford Motor Company and HP, one of the largest producers of 3D printing machinery, are partnering on a way to reduce 3D printing waste. The two companies have found a way to turn the excess powder material that is the basic ingredient in 3-D printers into scrap that can be recycled in traditional injection molding for car parts. Powder from 3-D printing that would just be waste, essentially run-off, is collected and turned into high-quality recycled plastic pellets, suitable for injection molding.
Micro-fulfillment centers and warehouse automation technology have been receiving a lot of attention. Asian-American supermarket chain H Mart has tapped robotics specialist AutoStore to power a micro-fulfillment center to process online grocery orders. Norway-based AutoStore said Tuesday that it’s working with integrator Bastian Solutions to develop a fully automated micro-fulfillment center to support H Mart’s online grocery operations in Carlstadt, NJ as a result of a surge in online grocery ordering during the pandemic. The micro-fulfillment solution is designed to boost fulfillment efficiency for a range of packaged groceries plus fresh and frozen products. The solution is scalable, can be installed at the back of a store, and can offer pickup kiosks.
The truck driver shortage has only been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, and more and more trucking companies are having a difficult time filling empty seats. As a result, companies have been actively and aggressively targeting younger drivers as well as female drivers to fill the void. The use of technology within the cab has certainly been beneficial to bringing in new hires that might otherwise not have been interested. But across the board, companies are looking to one solution: compensation. More and more companies are boosting compensation packages to attract drivers. For example, asset-based carrier Cargo Transporters ran across-the-board pay raises but were still having trouble attracting drivers. So, the company rolled out a new “All In” package. The “All In” package combines holiday and vacation pay with base rates and productivity bonuses, and lets drivers choose how they’d like to receive payments. This is just one example of how trucking companies are getting creative with their compensation to bring in necessary drivers.
President Biden introduced a dramatic shift in the direction of the US economy with a roughly $2 trillion package to invest in traditional projects like infrastructure alongside tackling climate change and boosting human services like elder care. The transportation infrastructure portion of the plan includes $621 billion, and would make a massive investment in America’s roadways, railways and bridges with a focus on clean energy. The plan would spend $174 billion on electric vehicles, which includes a network of 500,000 electric vehicle stations, using electric vehicles in bus fleets, and replacing the federal government’s fleet of diesel transit vehicles with electric vehicles. About $115 billion would pay for fixing roads and bridges, including 20,000 miles of highways and roads, the 10 most “economically significant” bridges in the US, as well as 10,000 smaller bridges. Another $85 billion is set aside for modernizing transit systems and $80 billion for a growing backlog of Amtrak. Airports, ports and waterways would also receive improvements.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, the Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station.