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This Week in Logistics News (June 22 – 28)

By June 28, 2024Uncategorized

For thousands of years, humans have been searching for the mythical “fountain of youth.” While appearing in the writings of Herodotus (5th century BC), in the Alexander romance (3rd century AD), and in the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries AD), the legend really grew when it became associated with Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. But now, scientists are saying that the fountain of youth could be a reality, but just in a very different form. American computer scientist, author, inventor, and futurist Raymond Kurzweil believes he may have found the best way forward. According to Kurzweil’s new book, nanorobots may be the key to stopping human aging and letting us live for thousands of years. Kurzweil admits that his projections may sound absurd at the moment, but he believes that advancements in medical nanorobots will soon help us cure human aging across the spectrum. Each human body may even require up to several hundred billion nanorobots to repair and augment degrading organs and keep them running in peak condition. The end result is a blending of biotechnology and artificial intelligence to help us overcome our feeble human lives by cutting down on human aging as much as possible. This certainly sounds like a lofty goal. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

Amazon shifting to recycled paper filling for packages
Walmart pilots crop monitoring tech for informed produce purchasing
UPS sells Coyote to RXO
FedEx retires one-fifth of Boeing 757 freighter fleet
Ocean shipping prices are pushing toward pandemic-era highs
Report: majority of women truckers have faced harassment on the job
GXO partners with Apptronik to test AI-powered humanoid robots

Amazon is shifting from the plastic air pillows used for packaging in North America to recycled paper because it’s more environmentally sound, and it says paper just works better. The company said that it has already replaced 95 percent of the plastic air pillows with paper filler in North America and is working toward complete removal by year’s end. It is the company’s largest plastic packaging reduction effort in North America to date and will remove almost 15 billion plastic air pillows from use annually. Almost all customer deliveries for Prime Day this year, which happens next month, will contain plastic no air pillows, according to Amazon. The company disclosed the total of single-use plastic across global operations for the first time in 2022 after investors sought more details on plans to reduce waste. The company said that it used 85,916 metric tons of single-use plastic that year, an 11.6 percent decrease from 2021.

Walmart announced that it will pilot agriculture technology with crop supply intelligence company Agritaskto get real-time information on crops and improve sourcing decisions around produce. The initiative aims to reduce food waste, provide fresher produce to customers and improve supply chain management by giving sourcing managers more information about factors impacting seasonal crops. The USDA has estimated that 30 percent of food loss occurs during agricultural production and harvest. Walmart and Agritask said they selected cherries and blackberries for the pilot because those fruits are highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and moisture levels, which can impact their growth and quality. The information the companies gather could, for example, allow managers to receive information about unexpected frost harming cherry production or information about harvesting delays, which could result in inventory changes.

UPS announced Sunday it plans to sell its truckload brokerage business Coyote Logistics to the technology-enabled brokerage RXO for $1.025 billion. According to the company, Chicago-based Coyote Logistics manages around 10,000 loads per day with a network of over 10,000 carriers. “As UPS positions itself to become the premium small package provider and logistics partner in the world, the decision to sell our Coyote Logistics business allows an even greater focus on our core business,” said Carol B. Tomé, the chief executive officer at UPS, in the release. In January, UPS announced plans to explore strategic alternatives or a possible sale, for its struggling truckload brokerage business, which it acquired for $1.8 billion in 2015. The company is selling Coyote for $775 million less than the purchase price.

FedEx has permanently retired 22 Boeing 757-200 freighter aircraft (20 percent of its fleet) as part of a downsizing campaign to better align the air fleet with slower parcel demand. The company said it took a $157 million impairment charge for permanently deactivating the 757 cargo jets along with seven engines. Last year’s fourth-quarter results included a $70 million write-off for the retirement of 18 aging MD-11 freighters and 34 related engines. FedEx permanently deactivated nine MD-11s in the fourth quarter, resulting in a total of 31 aircraft that were removed from the fleet. The older 757s were expendable because they are less fuel-efficient than other planes operated by FedEx, which still has 92 of the narrowbody freighters in the fleet. By the end of September, FedEx will no longer be the primary air cargo provider for the U.S. Postal Service after UPS recently won the five-year contract.

Ship backups that plagued seaports during the Covid pandemic are making a comeback, as vessel diversions because of attacks in the Red Sea trigger gridlock and soaring costs at the start of the peak shipping season. Flotillas of containerships and bulk carriers are growing off the coasts of Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and China while ports in Spain and other parts of Europe look to dig out from container piles. Houthi rebel attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which have effectively closed the Suez Canal since the end of last year, are being felt at faraway ports as the disruptions extend voyage times, throw ships off schedule and strand sea containers. The snags are complicating logistics for retail and manufactured goods, but importers and exporters say they are most concerned that the backups could expand as demand picks up in the coming months heading into the busy peak shipping season. That could drive already-resurgent freight rates close to levels seen during the pandemic, when companies vied for scarce space on ships and spot-market prices for shipping a 40-foot container surged past $20,000.

Women working as truckers face a host of challenges in a traditionally male-dominated industry, the majority of whom say they’ve experienced discrimination on the job. Of more than 700 women truckers surveyed by the nonprofit American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) in 2023, roughly one in six said they experience harassment or discrimination based on their gender on a daily basis, while more than two-thirds said they’ve been discriminated against or harassed at least once. Additionally, 31 percent said that they believe it’s harder to be a truck driver as a women because of the negative attitudes other drivers, motor carriers, and shippers have about them. Women also identified several other issues they regularly cope with more often than men. Of the 12 daily problems drivers – both men and woman — highlighted in the ATRI’s survey, women dealt with 11 of them more frequently than men. That included limited access to exercise facilities (42% of women, 30% of men), less access to safe parking (41% of women, 31% of men), and limited access to restrooms (39% of women, 23% of men).

GXO, one of the world’s largest logistics firms, is testing humanoid robots as part of a partnership with robotics developer Apptronik to automate warehouse work, including item picking. With more than 970 facilities that span some 200 million square feet, GXO is hoping to augment its operations with what it describes as “AI-enabled warehouse buddies.” The partnership will involve GXO testing Apptronik’s Apollo humanoid robots to evaluate their suitability for automating item picking in distribution centers. The robots will be put to the test, carrying boxes of items while simultaneously navigating around other coworkers. The pair will work together to fine-tune the underlying AI model that powers Apptronik’s humanoid robots before an eventual deployment in one of GXO’s U.S. distribution centers.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Keep Yourself Alive by Queen.

The post This Week in Logistics News (June 22 – 28) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.

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