This Week in Logistics News (April 30 – May 6)
At some point, it seems we all have the need for speed. That being said, would you go over 280 MPH in a car? Better yet, would go over 280 MPH in a 3-D printed car? Well, according to Czinger, a Los Angeles-based boutique hypercar manufacturer, that is about to be a possibility. According to the website, its debut vehicle, the 21C, is designed by both human and AI technologies and uses a hybrid powertrain system which combines a twin-turbo 2.88-liter flat-plane crankshaft V8 engine with an 800-volt hybrid drive and regenerative system. Together, these powerplants push out 1,250 horsepower. Czinger claims the 21C has a top speed of over 280 miles per hour. The car’s numbers are impressive: 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds; the quarter mile done and dusted in 8.1 seconds; 0-186 mph in 15 seconds; 0-248 mph and back to a standstill in a stunning 29 seconds. While all of this technology sounds pretty amazing, it should be said that this type of performance comes with a price tag. The Czinger 21C costs $1.7 million, not including any add-ons. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- UPS to deploy RFIDs through 100 facilities this year
- Sixteen states sue USPS over plan to buy gas-powered vehicles
- Amazon defeats drive to unionize second Staten Island facility
- McCormick’s diverse supplier network helps shield it from Ukraine impacts
- Uber Eats partners with Tesco for UK grocery delivery
- Demand for piece-picking robots gains steam
- Empty shipping containers stack up at US port depots
- Warehouse vacancy rates sink to 27-year low
UPS plans to implement its smart package initiative at 100 facilities in 2022, which will involve using RFID tags on packages to speed up throughput. RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. An RFID system consists of a tiny radio transponder, a radio receiver, and transmitter. The initiative will eliminate 20 million manual scans daily for UPS employees loading its package cars. According to CEO Carol Tomé, “if that doesn’t drive productivity, I don’t know what will, and it will avoid all the mis-sorts. When a package gets mis-sorted and it goes into the wrong package car, that’s not a very good experience for our customer, and it’s actually just a drag on productivity.” Using RFID tags will also help UPS in its goal of eliminating $500 million in non-operating costs this year, according to Tomé. “When you introduce technology, it can free up a lot of manual activities. And we’re really all about putting our resources where we can get the highest return,” she said.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the USPS announced its initial order of 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles, 10,019 of which will be battery-electric vehicles. Apparently that ratio is not acceptable. Late last week, sixteen states sued the USPS over its plan to replace its aging delivery fleet with thousands of gas-powered delivery vehicles over the next decade, alleging that the agency hasn’t adequately accounted for the environmental harm of the vehicles. These sixteen states were joined by the District of Columbia, the City of New York, and a Bay Area organization. Environmental and labor groups filed separate suits. The lawsuits argue that the agency’s environmental analysis to justify spending up to $11.3 billion on the gas trucks, which only get 8.6 miles per gallon, was deeply flawed.
In early April, employees at an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island made history by becoming the first Amazon warehouse to vote to join a union (JFK8 fulfillment center). The big question after that vote was ‘what happens next? Do other warehouses follow suit and join a union?’ Well, Amazon workers at a facility in New York voted not to join an upstart union only weeks after the group won a resounding victory at a warehouse across the street. The election at the LDJ5 sorting center in Staten Island wasn’t close, with the Amazon Labor Union garnering just 345 yes votes to 550 nos. Amazon is still fighting to get the JFK8 vote overturned.
Spices and condiments are equally affected by the tumultuous global economy as any other product. McCormick & Company, an American food company that manufactures, markets, and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments, and other flavoring products to retail outlets, food manufacturers, and foodservice businesses is no exception. The company has faced sourcing constraints as a result of the war in Ukraine, causing the company to rely on second sourcing capabilities for its mustard procurement. Thankfully, for McCormick, no one raw material makes up more than 5 percent of its total cost of goods sold. However, McCormick executives have said the company will raise prices during the second quarter, amid cost pressures from rising inflation and supply chain issues.
Uber Technologies is partnering with Tesco to advance high-speed delivery at the UK’s largest grocer. As part of the deal, the network of Uber Eats couriers will also fulfill orders from Tesco.com and the retailer’s app, Uber said Tuesday. The partnership will start in 20 stores across the UK from Edinburgh to Portsmouth and will guarantee delivery within one hour. Traditional grocers in Britain are increasingly trying to team up with delivery firms as shopping habits change and consumers demand ever-faster delivery of goods. Tesco is already working with Gorillas Technologies GmbH and testing out 10-minute deliveries from a handful of supermarkets. Tesco started its Whoosh e-commerce service last year to deliver orders from the Express format within 60 minutes and since then it has grown to 200 shops. The company plans to expand that to 600 stores by the end of this year.
Piece-picking robots are finding their way into more warehouses and distribution centers these days thanks to steady improvements in the technology that are making it more attractive to a wider range of end-users. Advances in gripping technology and arm speed are making it easier to handle a broader array of items, for example, allowing companies to maximize their investment and reduce their reliance on human labor for mundane picking tasks. The trend is part of a growing demand for industrial robots in general—a trend that is only expected to gather steam as fulfillment operations deal with rising e-commerce volumes and the labor challenges that accompany such growth. The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) tracked a 28 percent increase in North American robot sales last year compared to 2020; it was the strongest sales year on record, with $2 billion worth of robot units sold.
There has been a lot written about the need for shipping containers. The biggest issue now is the fact that shipping containers, once unloaded, cannot be moved. Empty shipping containers are piling up in storage depots on the US east and west coasts, causing a glut of capacity even as they are sorely needed overseas in Asia to ship exports back to the US. That trend will present a major challenge in the mid- to long-term range, at the same time that the industry is keeping a wary eye on looming contract negotiations between waterfront labor and port management groups on the U.S. west coast, according to Germany-based Container XChange, a technology firm which tracks container movement trends worldwide.
The nation’s industrial real estate market continues to set marks for low vacancy rates and high rents despite a “flatline” of e-commerce growth as many Americans return to their pre-pandemic routines, according to commercial real estate firm Savills. Those steep vacancy declines and rent spikes are driving record development of new warehouses and other facilities, the firm said in its “U.S. Industrial Market Update – Q1 2022.” Developers are currently building nearly 750 million square feet, up from the 507 million square feet they were creating in the same quarter last year. “With vacancy rates as low as 1.6 percent in Southern California and top markets experiencing double-digit rental growth, the industrial market continues to be challenging for tenants. National construction activity is up 48 percent from one year ago, which should help ease conditions going forward with current pipelines as high as 73 million square feet in Dallas-Fort Worth,” Savills said in its report.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Drive My Car by the Beatles.