Chain links: What we're reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 01/20/2016 | 5:46 AM

Emerging markets logistics have great futures (next year). A logistics start-up focuses not on profits but on cutting dad’s costs. And logistics users applaud surge in M&A activity.


Emerging markets logistics have great future, rocky present

Despite some rough recent times, logistics in emerging markets still have great potential. The key is getting through the present.

Source: Atlantic Journal of Transportation

Pennsylvania county sends out logistics siren song

Berke’s County, Pa. has positioned itself as a logistics hub for the region, which includes such familiar towns as Reading

Logistics startup had roots in toy business

Entrepreneurs usually launch logistics firms to make profits, but two partners in Bentonville, Ark., say they founded RR Logistics in an effort to cut shipping costs at the toy-making business owned by the father of one of the men. Rodney Redman and Michael Bahn have been friends since they played on the same third-grade soccer team, but they now manage a truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, ocean, and air cargo business that acts as a 3PL for a growing list of clients.

Source: Arkansas Online

Global Packaging Trends 2016

This report from market intelligence firm Mintel identifies six trends shaping the future of packaging across the globe: digital printing, flexible packaging (such as pouches), clear label messages, eco-responsible packaging, a wider variety of size options, and mobile-engaged packaging.

Source: Mintel website

Attracting millennials to logistics jobs

Millennials don’t naturally gravitate towards logistics careers. It will be up to the industry to change the perception that the industry isn’t stimulating enough to make a career of

Source: Supply and Demand Chain Executive

UPS using 3-D printing to transform model--report

UPS Inc. will rely more on 3-D printing to help get things done

Source: 3dprint

Logistics enters 2016 in midst of M&A boom

The logistics industry is coming off a record M&A year in 2015, and the new year brings in some favorable views from logistics users on the trend

Source: Heavy-duty Trucking

Chain Links: What we're reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 01/13/2016 | 6:37 AM


Inventory tracking is key to boosting warehouse productivity. Big data gains in supply chain prominence. And a rocky road for online fulfillment.


Why Inventory Tracking is Foundation of Boosting Warehouse Productivity

An operation that relies on dated methods or, even worse, the memory of workers to locate inventory is wasting time and money. If you spend time chasing inventory the productivity of your operation automatically suffers.

Source: Totaltrax, Inc.


Big Data: The Latest Rage in Supply Chain Management

Early uses of big data were concentrated in two areas: customer segmentation/marketing effectiveness, and financial services, particularly trading. Recently, supply chain has become the “next big thing."

Source: CFO


Autonomous Mobile Robots in the Warehouse TODAY?

Clint Reiser of the ARC Advisory Group provides an excellent round-up of autonomous mobile robots that are currently available for the warehouse. They include offerings from established providers such as KNAPP and Swisslog as well as startups like Locus Robotics System and GreyOrange Butler.

Source: Logistics Viewpoints


Webcam captures trucks hitting low bridge

Driving a truck is harder than it looks, and a popular website proves this point with video footage of a seemingly endless number of trucks scraping their roofs beneath an 11-foot, 8-inch high railroad trestle bridge in Durham, N.C. Rental boxtrucks with inexperienced drivers are the most common victims, leaving plenty of paint on a sacrificial crash beam installed to protect the bridge structure from frequent impacts.

Source: 11 Foot 8.


Online shoppers see rising snags with “click and collect” model

Shoppers continued to drive revenue to online retailers’ sites in the 2015 holiday season despite reports of increasing problems with fulfillment, according to a survey of British consumers done by YouGov for JDA Software Group Inc. and Centiro Group AB. Negative impacts included: lack of a dedicated pickup area in-store, long waiting times, and staff being unable to locate items in-store.

Source: JDA Software Group Inc.


Seven in 10 online shoppers abandon carts before buying

Online sales soared to $340b billion in 2015, but the amount could have been even higher if a whopping 69 percent of online shopping carts had not been abandoned before checkout, according to a study from the Baymard Institute. The firm calculated an average of 32 studies on e-commerce shopping trends to arrive at the figure.

Source: Baymard Institute


Bar-Code Readers Get Makeover to Spur Bustling Warehouses

New versions aim to use better ergonomics to speed up assembly, packing and shipping of online orders

Source: Wall Street Journal


What’s your Strategy for Supply Chain Disclosure?

Thanks to social media and an increasing flood of data, the capacity to generate causes and controversies almost instantly has become the new norm in today’s “super-transparent society.” Most business leaders have not yet come to grips with the new reality — and what it means for their organizations.

Source: MIT Sloan Management Review

Chain Links: What we're reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 01/06/2016 | 6:35 AM

Acquiring IT power to compete in e-commerce. Coping with the returns avalanche. And a venerable newspaper gets schooled in the supply chain.


Acquiring IT power to compete in e-commerce

In the rapidly growing e-commerce market, consumers are demanding faster shipping times, but are not willing to pay higher costs. This is putting logistics companies in a challenging position to keep their customers happy. Providers are spending more on technology so they can keep up with the competitive logistics sector, and are looking for acquisitions to help.

Source: The Middle Market


Obituary: Evan Schumacher, logistics technology entrepreneur, at 46

To those who’ve been in transportation and logistics for a while, Evan Schumacher’s name—and those of two of the companies he launched—will be familiar. Schumacher, who died in December of a rare cancer, launched the online logistics and delivery company Celarix, as well as Open Mile, a technology-based truckload brokerage. The latter was acquired in 2013 by Echo Global Logistics, where Schumacher was chief commercial officer until his passing.

Source: The Boston Globe


Claire’s Stores executive sees opportunity for women in logistics

Raised by a single mother, Deborah Winkleblack worked her way up the logistics ranks as one of the few women executives in a predominantly male industry. Today, she is vice president of international logistics and compliance for Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Claire's Stores Inc., where she travels internationally to ensure merchandise reaches retail stores worldwide.

Source: Daily Herald


The other side of lower fuel prices

The decline in gas and diesel prices has hit the flow of state tax revenue that is pegged to the price at the pump. So in Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered a $112.5 million cut in the state’s Transportation Cabinet budget.

Source: Louisville Courier-Journal


Boston Globe invests in routing software to improve newspaper delivery

After failing to deliver newspapers to thousands of subscribers over the winter break, the Boston Globe’s new distribution partner will invest in route-optimization software to help its drivers adjust to a network of fewer, but bigger, warehouses, California-based ACI said.

Source: WBUR


JDA announces SIG schedule for warehouse software meetings

Users of warehouse management system (WMS) software from JDA Software Group Inc. can learn more about the platforms in a new series of special interest group (SIG) meetings announced for the first quarter of 2016. The phone-based meetings will allow attendees to influence product enhancements, learn about the future software roadmap, and network with peers on subjects such as workforce management, advanced warehouse replenishment, intelligent fulfillment, and dozens of other subjects.

Source: JDA Software Group Inc.


Americans forecasted to break record for returning holiday gift parcels

UPS was bracing itself to handle a record number of product returns from dissatisfied consumers on Jan. 6 as a wave of reverse logistics rebounds from the annual holiday shopping rush. The company expected to carry more than a million packages on Jan. 6 alone—known as National Returns Day—and more than five million by the end of the first week of January, marking an increase of over half a million over 2015 levels.

Source: UPS


Report: Container terminal operators should consider variable pricing

The management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. suggests in a recent article that container terminal operators should look at a variable pricing scheme for their services.

 “Much remains to be worked out, but we estimate that if the industry instituted variable pricing, the improvement in productivity would be worth $2 billion to $3 billion annually,” said the article written by Timo Glave and Steve Saxon, who work at McKinsey’s Copenhagen and Beijing offices, respectively.

Source: AmericanShipper.com

Chain Links: What we're reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 12/30/2015 | 7:46 AM

Logistics is sexy (we knew that). Amazon is growing its share of everything it touches (we knew that). And China’s logistics space continues to grow apace (ditto)


Logistics is sexy!...Really!

Convincing people that the development of the logistics industry is a scintillating topic is difficult. Bring up supply chain management, cold-chain storage, or international freight shipments and you will probably get a blank stare. But logistics don’t just go round the world—it also makes the world go round, and that’s why some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Uber, Amazon, and Alibaba, are obsessed with it.

Source: Techcrunch

Amazon Is Capturing Bigger Slice of U.S. Online Holiday Spending

Amazon.com is increasing its share of U.S. online spending during the holiday season, even as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and other rivals seek to attract consumers with promotional sales and free deliveries.

Source: Bloomberg

Truckers pair up to work around hours of service caps

Some haulers are coming up with a creative solution to haul cargo over more time—and miles—than hours of service regulations allow, the Wall Street Journal reports. By driving in pairs, teams of two drivers can alternate their time at the wheel and keep a truck in nearly constant motion, stopping only to exchange cargo, fill gas tanks, and give drivers pit stops.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Amazon on track to boost expedited shipping volume in 2016

Online mega-retailer Amazon.com added more than three million new members to its subscription-based Amazon Prime service in the third week of December alone.

They will join “tens of millions” of global members in the expedited delivery program, and promise a boost for 2016 in the company’s shipping volume for two-day shipping, same-day delivery, and Prime Now two-hour delivery services.

Source: Amazon.com Inc.

New Argentinean president’s reforms include ending currency controls, import restrictions, export taxes

What a difference an election makes. Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, has issued orders to reverse some of the regulations and taxes that made trade with Argentina so difficult and restrictive under his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The measures, which include lifting controls on foreign currency and ending some restrictions on imports and taxes on exports, should bring more predictability to the country’s markets and boost economic growth.

Source: Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Family of man killed by forklift sues manufacturer

The family of a man killed a year ago by a forklift at the Elizabeth Arden Logistics Center in Roanoke has sued the manufacturer, Raymond Corp., for $10 million.

Source: WSLS-TV

China’s logistics industry continued to grow from January through November-report

China’s logistics sector continued to show solid growth for most of calendar year 2015, according to a report. However, the report cautioned that the industry still has a ways to go to operate efficiently.

Source: CNTV


Chain links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 12/23/2015 | 8:31 AM


Pharma delivery vans targeted by desperate thieves. Santa’s little robot helper. And a logistics consortium is formed to shut the supply chain to animal poachers.


Pharmacy delivery vans targeted by thieves seeking painkillers

Thieves are not as interested in hijacking truckloads or stealing pallets of medications as they were even two years ago. Now they’re increasingly targeting “last mile” courier deliveries of pharmaceuticals from distribution centers to pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics in search of opiate-based painkillers. The article quotes statistics from research firm FreightWatch International, which has documented nearly 100 last-mile thefts in the last two years. Pharmaceuticals represented 98 percent of those thefts, according to FreightWatch. The Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition is focusing more of its attention on combatting last-mile theft, which usually involves firearms and often turns violent.

   Source: STAT News Service

Five supply chain predictions for 2016

   Here are five not-so-obvious predictions for the coming year, including one that involves an innovative payment process that promises to streamline supply chain transactions.

   Source: Forbes.com

Santa’s little robot helper?

   The former co-founders of telecommunications firm Skype have launched a company called Starship Technologies to test self-driving delivery robots in London. Fleets of the small autonomous of ground-based drones could be used to improve local delivery of goods and groceries. The as yet unnamed robots are small, safe, practical and free from CO2 emissions, according to the developers.

     Source: AJOT

Parcel carriers rent consumer vans

   People who decide to move or travel in December could find it hard to find rental vans this year, since major parcel carriers have launched their annual holiday rite of renting vans to deliver the mail. Exacerbated by the increased number of deliveries triggered by online shopping, Fed Ex, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service have started renting consumer vehicles such as U-Haul vans to handle the extra volume.

   Source: The Washington Post

Toy delivery service chooses Uber instead of overnight shipping

   Some San Francisco residents may think Santa’s sleigh looks like an Uber vehicle this year. But don’t blame them for hitting the eggnog—the online toy rental service Pley has announced it will use the UberRush on-demand delivery network to achieve faster shipping speeds than overnight deliveries from traditional parcel carriers.

Source: Pley

   A supply chain to stop animal poaching

   A global logistics consortium has been formed to help shut down the supply chain supporting the illegal trade of wildlife.

   Source: Supply Management

   Take a hard look at reverse logistics  

   Companies need to start taking a closer look at reverse logistics, according to the president and CEO of ModusLink Global Solutions. A strong reverse logistics model can improve bottom line performance if the available data flows are analyzed and applied correctly, John Boucher writes.

Source: EBN Online

Chain links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 12/16/2015 | 7:47 AM

The high cost of not updating your DC. Supply chain innovation in an Obamacare world. And how supply chain trends are affecting the pallet market.


The high cost of not modernizing your DC

A sharp increase in orders should be a boon for any company. In reality, it could result in chaos if your distribution center proves unequipped to efficiently handle the growing number of SKUs. As tempting as it may be to simply hire more workers, labor alone will not solve warehouse capacity and functionality issues.

SOURCE: TotalTrax, Inc.

Supply Chain Innovation in an ACA World

Medical device manufacturing and distribution is a nearly $110 billion industry. But this industry is under pressure like never before due to the Affordable Care Act. That requires companies to look at managing their supply chains in smarter ways.

SOURCE: Cardinal Health


Amazon buying trucks is boring but absolutely necessary

You’re about to see Amazon-branded big rigs out on the highway, driving between the company’s sprawling warehouses. As for why, it all has to do with the e-tailer’s business model.

Source: Wired.com

Markets in Transition: Material Handling Trends as Pallet Market Disruptors

Rick LeBlanc is well known in the pallet world for having the pulse on trends and developments in the field. Here he identifies seven material handling macro trends that are affecting the pallet market.

Source: Pallet Enterprise

Supplier Audits Rise to the Fore — At Least, They Should

As supply chains become more global and complex, it can be harder to identify where potential risks and vulnerabilities may lie. This article suggests additional factors to consider when auditing your supply chain such as the sourcing of objectionable products and materials and whether your suppliers have continuity plans in place.

Source: CFO magazine

Average e-commerce delivery time slower than last year

Top retailers are delivering products with speed, cost, and accuracy under pressure during the holiday shopping rush, but a broad study of e-commerce businesses by the consultancy Kurt Salmon shows that outside of the top 10 performers, the average order-to-delivery time across 62 retailers studied was 6.9 days—20% slower than last year’s number.

Source: Kurt Salmon

Amazon continues to open its fulfillment network to third parties

Amazon.com already sets the pace in the e-commerce market for speed and accuracy in delivering parcels to its own online shoppers, and now the Internet giant is further opening up its vaunted fulfillment network to third party stores. Amazon recently launched its Prime Now service in Chicago, offering one-hour delivery of items ordered from local grocery, prepared meals, and baked goods stores in the city.

Source: Amazon.com

Chain Links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 12/09/2015 | 8:09 AM

We need Amazon’s drones (really?). Target taps company for same-day grocery delivery. And retailer stock-outs continue to be a common problem.

Amazon’s drones may be a marketing stunt, but we kinda need them

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s Cyber-Monday Eve update on “Prime Air,” its plan to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less via drones (eventually), is a carefully timed marketing ploy to drum up publicity on the biggest day of Amazon’s year. And Amazon hasn’t said when Prime Air will launch. But the sooner it does, the better for all of us.

Source: Wired.com

UPS delivery partner invests to tackle Christmas gifts stuck at 'customs sheds'

Last Christmas, failure to pay correct duties on parcels sent beyond the European Union to the U.S. and other countries caused an average delay of over 11 days at customs clearance points. This season, more than 10% of such deliveries could miss arriving for Christmas day. International courier operator ParcelHero, which partners with DHL and UPS, is making a big push to help consumers avoid common pitfall

Source: Forbes.com

Retailers are losing $1.75 trillion over this

Shipping costs aren't the only thing dragging down retailers' digital profits this holiday season. As operations become more complex for companies doing business both online and in store, out-of-stocks, overstocks, and returns are costing retailers $1.75 trillion a year — a number that's only moving higher.

Source: CNBC.com

Target taps Instacart for same-day grocery delivery in Chicago

Hungry shoppers can now order same-day grocery delivery from Target Corp. in Chicago as well as Minneapolis and San Francisco, following the online retailer’s move to enlist mobile grocery shopping app Instacart to cover the city. Buyers who use the app can choose to have food delivered to their home within an hour, two hours or up to seven days in advance.

Source: Internet Retailer

Small businesses have logistics advantage

With their nimble business moves, small and medium businesses (SMBs) have an advantage over large, lumbering corporations in leveraging logistics and supply chain maneuvers. The smaller firms overcome their deficit in resources with a greater use of innovation and personal touch in keeping customers happy.

Source: The Telegraph (U.K.)

E-Commerce in Canada dominated by U.S. retailers

U.S.-based retailers dominate the business-to-consumer e-commerce market in Canada, according to a report from a German market research firm.

Source: yStats.com


Chain links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 12/02/2015 | 6:54 AM

Google’s overnight delivery expands in southern California. Surveillance trailers get the drop on cargo thieves. And “friendly” warehouse robots work collegially with humans (yup!)


Google Express delivery service expands throughout SoCal

The neighborhoods of West Los Angeles may have gotten it first, but Google's overnight delivery service, Google Express, is now available to everyone in Southern California, from San Diego to Anaheim to Downtown L.A.

Source: Los Angeles Times

“Sting trailers” offer glimpse into world of cargo thieves

Travelers Cos., the New York-based insurance company, is using a “sting” truck trailer equipped with surveillance gear to help catch cargo thieves. Law enforcement agencies nationwide have used the trailer, which Travelers developed at its Windsor, Conn., lab, hundreds of times, resulting in dozens of arrests. Similar trailers are used by a handful of law enforcement agencies and retail and trucking companies. The sting trailers give authorities a look at how cargo thieves operate and help carriers improve security.

Source: The Associated Press

Amazon video shows new parcel delivery drone

A new parcel delivery drone will take off and land vertically, but fly horizontally up to 15 miles like a small airplane, according to a video released Sunday by Amazon promoting its Prime Air service. Launching the network of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may take some time, however, since the company admits it cannot deploy the system until it achieves “the regulatory support needed to realize our vision.”

Source: Amazon.com

Holiday shoppers flock to their keyboards

Americans chose their keyboards and smartphones over brick and mortar shops for holiday shopping on Nov. 28 and 29, with 103 million people shopping online and 102 million visiting retail stores, according to the National Retail Federation’s Thanksgiving Weekend Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Average spending per person over the weekend totaled $299.60.

Source: National Retail Federation

`Friendly’ robots help smaller firms chase Amazon

A new player in robotics wants to give other e-tailers the same benefits that the old Kiva Systems bots gives its parent, Amazon.com. Locus Robotics is an offshoot of Massachusetts-based Quiet Logistics, a third-party order fulfillment company that gets merchandise out the door for apparel retailers like Zara, Gilt Groupe, and Bonobos. The idea behind its bots isn’t just to replace humans, but to create a system where everyone can work together more efficiently.

Source: Wired

Big Game, Big Disruptions

Super Bowl 50, set for Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., will disrupt transportation in the San Francisco area for about three weeks, including nearly a week after the game, according to officials.

Source: KGO-TV

Chain links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 11/25/2015 | 7:31 AM

Yes, Virginia, there is a cloud. Why were U.S. ports empty leading up to peak season? And a global insurer enters the transportation market to underwrite assets.


The real-world consequences of the cloud

“The cloud,” it turns out, is not some amorphous, disembodied place in the ether. It’s a series of gigantic, energy-devouring data storage facilities in places like Swedish Lapland. (Facebook has a facility there that runs on hydropower.) This interview with Tung-Hui Hu, a former network engineer and author of the book A Prehistory of the Cloud, explains the technology behind the cloud and traces its development back to the Cold War and—surprisingly—the Southern Pacific Railroad. 

Source: The Boston Globe


Global trade slowdown: The mystery of empty U.S. ports

The rush of consumer traffic at America’s most popular stores in the weeks before Christmas is usually preceded by heavy traffic at American ports. But not this year. 

Source: Fortune.com


Logistics of online shopping are still something of a mess

Online retailers are still struggling to get the back-end logistics right. Which means that the industry is very probably riding into a perfect storm on November 27, also known as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year in the US and the UK.

Source: The Financial Times 


Just paint the whole week black

The “Black Friday” phenomenon has morphed into a week-long event, thus taking some pressure off logistics and delivery firms.

Source: Forbes


Allianz covers the world

Allianz, the global insurance giant, forms a transportation underwriting operation to insure assets 

Source: Allianz


The potential of Uber 

Uber wants to become a logistics firm by transporting everything, not just people, a UK publication says.

Source: The Drum 


How to get to profitable fulfillment

A JDA executive writes about the five ways of achieving profitable fulfillment while satisfying the increasing demands of customers.

Source: Multichannel Merchant

Chain links: What we’re reading this week

By Mark Solomon | 11/18/2015 | 5:57 AM


RFID sales roll on. UPS stays bullish on China. And a primer on how transport and logistics firms can boost their profits


RFID rolls to sales of $10.1 billion in 2015

Technology buyers in supply chain and other market segments pushed RFID tags to burgeoning sales in 2015, with 9.1 billion tags being sold in 2015, up from 7.8 billion tags in 2014, according to a IDTechEx Research report titled "RFID Forecasts, Players, Opportunities 2016-2026" report. 

Source: IDTechEx Research


What does the Trans Pacific Partnership mean for supply chain professionals?

Details on the Pacific Rim trade deal, formally known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), were finally released last Friday. Since then, the ARC Advisory Group’s Clint Reiser has spent a good deal of time reviewing how the TPP trade agreement will impact logistics and supply chain professionals. Find out what he has to say in this Q&A with Steve Banker.

Source: Forbes.com


The future of deliveries

The future of delivery might involve small drones zooming above pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at high speeds. Amazon and now Wal-Mart are moving down this path. Or it might be something a lot slower that travels on sidewalks.

Source: The Washington Post 


Consolidation in the 3PL industry: Why is it happening, and what does it mean?

Dr. Robert C. Lieb, professor of Supply Chain Management at the D'Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University, has been conducting research on the third-party logistics (3PL) industry for more than two decades. In this article, he reveals what CEOs of major 3PLS in Europe, North America, and Asia had to say about the current wave of 3PL mergers and acquisitions. He also outlines the kinds of problems that often arise in 3PL mergers, and briefly suggests some ways to address or prevent them.

Source: CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly


New York Times turns thumbs-down on House-passed highway bill 

A Gray Lady editorial says the bill falls short on highway funding and safety.

Source: The New York Times


UPS stays bullish on China

Despite worries over the economic slowdown, UPS Inc. said 2015 will turn out to be one of its best years there, according to Nando Cesarone, president of UPS Asia Pacific region. Cesarone said UPS found opportunities in China long before the economy showed double-digit growth, and it will do so again.

Source: China Daily


Creating value in transportation and logistics

Transportation and logistics companies have been struggling more than other sectors to improve their capital-market performance. This article discusses how they can increase their economic profit.

Source: McKinsey & Co.


Modern warehousing capabilities mirror the goals of industrial Internet of Things

Machine vision sensors provides the basis for the increase in automation in the warehouse, according to this blog post by Sal Spada, research director for discrete automation at ARC Advisory Group.

Source: Logistics Viewpoints



The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.


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