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Welcome to More Connected Freight

Freightos Updates Logistics Technology News

By Eytan Buchman, VP Marketing, Freightos

The year was 1976.

Apple Computer had just been established, the Concorde made its first commercial flight, and Star Wars began filming. And, while not as fun, something big was happening at travel agencies.

American Airlines had just rolled out an online booking terminal for travel agents.

It changed the industry. Travel agents’ share of bookings shot from 40% to over 80% in just years, and  set the groundwork for air travel to join the digital age in 1995.

Air freight, an enormous industry, has embraced automation…but not completely. And nowhere is that more striking than capacity management and booking, with an offline loop that typically adds a full day to urgent air freight shipments. But that’s changing.

Bringing Air Capacity Online

Today, Lufthansa Cargo, together with Freightos WebCargo unveiled instant air cargo ebooking for 1,000+ forwarders, a huge leap forward into the digital era.

Through an API services and the Freightos WebCargo air freight pricing and management platform, over 1,000 forwarders can now look up contracted rates, assess capacity, and book cargo in real-time. This  provides Lufthansa access to 1,000,000 monthly searches, ushering in newfound sales and operations efficiency.

Lufthansa Air Cargo’s game-changing move to digital connectivity started with a a pilot in the first week of June. Initial rollouts commenced quickly before scaling up now to a broader European rollout. So I went to Freightos WebCargo’s CEO, Manel Galindo, to hear his insights on how Freightos helped Lufthansa Cargo digitize.

The Freightos WebCargo Team (Manel Galindo is 3rd from right)

Help us put this announcement in context; why is this so important for the air freight industry?

This is a huge milestone for the air freight industry.

Today the process for booking air freight is complex, with forwarders manually researching rates across multiple platforms.  With this launch, forwarders can easily price and book capacity on one platform. Everything is completely automated, from initial pricing to final booking. Most importantly, Lufthansa can now offer thousands of forwarders dynamic pricing, giving them an incredible competitive advantage.

This is exactly why the B2B online automation is so incredible; with a flick of a switch, companies globally can work more efficiently and Lufthansa can easily sell more.

Demo of the Freightos WebCargo eBooking Process

Can you briefly explain Freightos WebCargo’s role in this digital transformation?

Freightos WebCargo guided and facilitated this process.

Our subject matter experts have their finger on the pulse and understand the pain points that forwarders, carriers and shippers face. No less important, they have the technical expertise to address them.

This combination of technical skill and industry knowledge positioned the Freightos WebCargo team to provide Lufthansa Air Cargo what they needed to achieve a successful, swift rollout.   The speed of the ebooking adoption is telling of how thirsty the industry is for this type of online platform.

When do you feel Lufthansa started to see value from the program?

I’d say immediately.  The corporate headquarter level is onboard with digitization. In the field, the teams see the value from clients constantly submitting queries requesting better pricing. Lufthansa now has a direct line of communication with clients.  The forwarders appreciate the ease and convenience of using one system. Time is of the essence; our joint system delivers.

What was the most challenging aspect of the pilot?

Onboarding the forwarders is by far the most labor-intensive aspect. We needed to introduce a new system to 19,000 users to ensure ebooking success. We’ve conducted on-site tutorials for 600 attendees and online courses for remote teams. It was hard but gratifying –  forwarders are thrilled to move online.

What advice do you have to other carriers contemplating digitization?

Most carriers we talk to are nervous to connect because they don’t think they are ready – their prices aren’t dynamic, their booking system isn’t as strong as they’d like it to be and so on.  This fear is debilitating.

My advice? Make the move and make it as fast as possible. Working with a partner like Freightos WebCargo is the fastest most efficient way to get online and start building a digital infrastructure.   The only way meet market needs is deliver on client expectations.

See the full press release here.

Gebrüder Weiss enhances Air & Sea competence in Germany

New Air & Sea office near Stuttgart / Present at all major German air freight hubs / Full-service logistics reinforced in Esslingen

Lauterach / Esslingen – The international transport and logistics company Gebrüder Weiss has opened a new Air & Sea office in Esslingen, Baden-Württemberg, and accordingly expanded its biggest location in Germany. The branch near Stuttgart is meant to address companies based in the economically strong region of Rhein-Neckar, in particular, who are now given an opportunity to use combined services in the areas of land transport, air and sea freight, and to benefit from the associated synergies. This includes national and international transports including all import and export technicalities such as customs clearance. The local service portfolio of the branch, with a staff of approx. 250, also includes regional warehouse and logistics solutions.

Present at all German air freight hubs

Now Gebrüder Weiss disposes of a nationwide air and sea freight network in Germany. With five Air & Sea offices in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart/Esslingen, the logistics expert is present at all major air freight hubs of the country. From a strategic point of view, the German market is very important for the full-range logistics provider offering special services for the automotive industry, not only because it is situated in the middle of Central Europe, but also due to its good infrastructure and international business contacts. With a trade volume of 1,279.4 billion euros (2017), Germany is Europe’s uncontested export leader and – apart from China and the USA – one of the world’s most important trade pillars.

Wanted: air and sea freight experts

“Business in our air and sea freight divisions is developing so well that we plan to make further investments in Germany,” says Andreas Kayser, Country Manager Air & Sea Germany at Gebrüder Weiss. As the expansion progresses, the company is also going to reinforce the staff at all five locations. Since the beginning of 2018, the number of emplyees has already increased from 65 to more than 80. “By reinforcing our teams, we intend to further enhance our services. Accordingly, we are permanently looking for air and sea freight experts,” says Kayser.

Next-Generation Supply Chain Visibility – Talking Logistics

If supply chain and logistics executives were granted one wish to make their work lives easier and more productive, most of them would probably say, “I wish I had end-to-end supply chain visibility.” It’s been an unfulfilled goal for many companies for many years, but while significant challenges still remain, advancements in technology are helping companies move closer to achieving this goal.

Why has end-to-end supply chain visibility been so difficult to achieve? How are emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics helping in this effort?

That was the focus of my conversation with Adam Compain, CEO at ClearMetal, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

Supply Chain Visibility: The Elusive Goal

If end-to-end supply chain visibility has been a goal for so long, why has achieving it been so elusive? “It’s because the underlying data problem hasn’t been solved,” said Adam. “Regardless if you’re a carrier, a 3PL or 4PL, or a technology provider, the ‘garbage in /garbage out’ problem is difficult to deal with. Much of the transportation data coming from carriers is inherently flawed. As that gets passed through to other systems it becomes impossible to rely on the data to understand what’s happening to shipments and when they will arrive. The EDI transactions typically used for this today are often conflicting, have too much latency, or have basic errors. You can’t rely on them.”

Technology Enablers

Part of the problem is that often nobody is responsible for data quality management, yet people have to use the information to run their business. A decade or more ago supply chain visibility applications emerged to try to aggregate the data and display it on dashboards, but they seldom fulfilled their promises because the underlying data quality was lacking. Now with the explosion of data from mobile devices and IoT, the problem is even more complex. So I asked Adam if newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics can help.

“While the older systems did a good job of gathering and aggregating data, the challenge today is to make sense of the mountain of data available,” Adam said. “That is where AI and predictive analytics can help. For example, a retailer may be relying on six-month old shipment charts with average transit times to decide when to reorder stock. This data may not be accurate or current enough to provide precise shipment times, so inventory may be ordered early as a buffer. By using AI and predictive analytics to resolve conflicting, confusing and missing data issues, more accurate and timely predictions of actual transit times can allow the retailer to match orders to needs and reduce costly buffer inventory. Other examples include resolving issues around transshipment problems and accurately scheduling labor.”

From Static Rules to Dynamic Learning

Adam explains that a drawback of older systems is that they are generally rules-based, using If/Then/Else logic to parse the data. He gives the example of a container that is supposed to arrive at Long Beach but actually arrives at Los Angeles. The old rules logic says the shipment hasn’t arrived as planned. Through more dynamic machine learning, however, an AI system may recognize that the container arrived at a port in the same area and arrange for drayage there. The new technology takes a more dynamic and holistic approach to make sense of potentially conflicting or missing data in order to provide a more complete, actionable view of what is really happening.

The Value Proposition

Adam defines the value proposition for this new technology in four areas. Besides the many obvious opportunities for cost reductions, he notes the potential for profit improvement. “A supplier may be able to upcharge for products based on the reliability of delivery or a retailer may be able to increase profitability through reduction in lost sales.”

A third area of value Adam notes is service. Customer service reps, for example, could spend less time scrambling to dig up data to answer customer questions and more time providing value-added services. And there can also be financial cash flow benefits from more accurately knowing delivery times and when to order, among other examples.

Of course, as with any new technology, companies are making mistakes in trying to deploy it successfully and have many questions about how to get started. Adam provides lots of insights on this, as well as more examples of some of the topics discussed above, so I encourage you to watch the full episode for all the details. Then post a question or comment and keep the conversation going!

SEKO announces plans for new UK-based airfreight and omni-parcel services facility

Chicago-based third-party logistics (3PL) services provider SEKO Logistics recently announced it is investing in a new flagship airfreight and omni-parcel services facility in close proximity to London Heathrow airport.

The company said that this investment is a reflection of its confidence in the “continued cross-border growth of British bands globally,” adding that revenues in the UK are expected to surpass $100 million for the first time and that the Heathrow expansion received government approval in June, as part of the UK’s objective to double its export business to $1 trillion by 2020.

The 22,000 square-foot location, which is located in Egham, is a key part of SEKO’s $5 million investment to support its customers’ growing international shipment volumes, including the rapid expansion of pureplay e-tailer business from the UK to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Services provided by SEKO at this new facility include fulfillment, forwarding, cross-border, e-commerce and IT.   

“We are growing organically mainly on the strength of existing customer recommendations as well as our specialist expertise, expanding global footprint and reputation for helping British companies to quickly access the lucrative cross-border e-commerce space, which has been our biggest growth area in the past 2-3 years,” said Keith O’Brien, SEKO’s Chief Operating Officer – EMEA, in a statement. “This will continue because of the international demand for British brands. Our decision to invest in this new facility close to Heathrow will make the cross-border delivery process even easier for our customers.”

SEKO Vice President of Marketing Brian Bourke told LM that this investment is in direct response to global cross border e-commerce growth demand and growth in the company’s airfreight business in the UK.

“We were also pleased to hear of the news finally on the expansion of Heathrow of course,” he said. “With our own facility near Heathrow, we are able to more closely execute the scanning and labeling as well as deconsolidation of airfreight containers and parcels.  When it comes to airfreight and especially e-commerce, every minute counts.”

SEKO will employ 52 staffers at this location, mostly in account management, operations, airfreight and client solutions, according to Bourke.

SEKO opened its first UK location in 2003 and now operates eight facilities, including a 225,000 square-foot logistics center in Milton Keynes from where it delivers a full range of omnichannel services for global order fulfillment, delivery management, returns solutions and ecommerce for leading brands, the company said.  And it added that outside of the U.S, the UK is now the largest global market in its logistics network comprised of more than 120 offices in more than 40 countries. The UK is currently the third largest e-commerce market in the world, with 46% of UK SMEs exporting and receiving revenue from overseas, it said.

“While we expanded into Milton Keynes with a state-of-the-art facility for long term warehousing and ecommerce fulfillment and value added services, this facility near Heathrow will allow us to better compete on transit times and managing service for our growing cross border e-commerce and international airfreight clients both in the UK as well as globally,” explained Bourke. “Our omni-parcel software that facilitates cross border e-commerce is a differentiator in the market, and having our own staff and facilities to facilitate and manage our cross border operations insures that we are able to better control our own destiny at LHR. This is part of a global strategy in ‘A’ markets to expand for faster growth in cross border and airfreight logistics solutions.  The UK is a key market for us globally as well.”

Airbus partners with DB Schenker for US parts deliveries – Logistics Manager Magazine

Airbus has partnered with DB Schenker to develop a logistics plan to use waterways to transport components to its final assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, reducing the use of road transport.

Using a new roll-on/roll-off terminal, its barge, and a newly-dredged section of river, Airbus can now use larger vessels to transfer the components by water.

The solution borrows a page from Airbus’ European operations and means that larger ocean going vessels are now being used for the international transport of four complete aeroplane “ship sets” per month.

Working with local contractors, DB Schenker also refurbished a pier (at the production plant) and constructed a new aeroplane hangar, both of which are enabling just-in-time delivery and use of the parts.

Achieving Transportation Excellence by Focusing on Daily Improvement

When first engaging in a partnership, shippers and their logistics providers have certain objectives in mind. Whether it’s to reduce transportation costs, centralize their transportation management, or deliver better service to customers, both parties identify a desired outcome and work collaboratively to deliver on those promises. Unfortunately, over time, daily activities often fail to directly connect to those original objectives.

While both sides have the best of intentions to deliver a return on investment (ROI) and committed value propositions, targets are often missed in the midst of business “noise.” Lack of communication, changes within both organizations, and near-sighted focus on tactical/first order problems pull focus away from the commitments derived from the subsequent goals created during the life of the partnership.

In order to achieve the desired ROI and deliver on the promises made during the sales process, both parties need daily activities to align with that objective. By applying a proven methodology to business management, shippers and their logistics providers can better define the overall vision. But what should that methodology look like, and how should shippers and their logistics providers apply it in their everyday operations and ongoing partnerships?

OGSM = A Disciplined Approach to Business Management

In order to establish (and maintain) a disciplined approach to business management, it’s helpful to use a proven process such as OGSM (Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measurements). This strategic planning process provides clear goals and identifies the strategic choices to achieve them – a model for delivering alignment, transparency, and metrics that truly define success. OGSM also frames what the business needs to achieve and provides a prescriptive approach to getting there.¹

OGSM has four components:

OGSM Graphic

Source: Transplace

By clearly defining objectives, goals, strategies, and measurements from the beginning, all parties involved can focus on achieving the commitment promised in the contract each and every day. Then, if there are shortfalls, they can be identified on a daily basis and day-to-day accountability can be assigned to specific individuals to remedy those shortfalls.

OGSM Benefits

While this approach isn’t going to magically solve or fix anything, it does limit the period of time where issues can linger and lead to greater potential for risk and service disruptions. OGSM can help to:

  • Ensure that all goals, strategies, and measures directly connect to the overall objective.
  • Provide better standardization for processes and measurement – from the beginning.
  • Quickly identify shortfalls, leading to root cause analysis and the creation of a tactical/strategic solution.
  • Empower employees to drive organizational change.

Managing for Daily Improvement

Developing an OGSM is the first step, but in order to be successful long-term – and achieve the desired results – organizations need to establish daily tactical processes and consistently monitor goals versus actual results. One effective way to do this is through a process called Managing for Daily Improvement (MDI). MDI is a methodology in which leaders implement visual management strategies that are leveraged on a daily basis to drive continuous improvement at various levels of the organization. A key tenet of MDI is that it is led by individual contributors (at the ground level) in a group setting, with an emphasis on self-managed, highly-engaged teams holding each other accountable to improve their daily processes and performance.

The MDI process requires 4 key elements:

  • Standard Work: A formally defined and documented process to deliver a quality product or service on time. This includes documenting current best practices, creating standardized work forms, and defining benchmarks or baselines. These baselines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) will create the foundation from which to measure future continuous improvement.
  • Daily Accountability Process: Establishment of daily team standup meetings with rotating peer-led facilitation where actual results are measured against a goal/baseline and actions are documented in order to drive improvements.
  • Visual Controls: A formal mechanism for displaying information in a highly visual manner to quickly indicate wins/losses on defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on a daily basis.
  • Leadership Discipline: Company leaders must create the framework within which MDI will operate, but will have to trust individuals to execute it. Leaders must trust their employees to drive change while at the same time encouraging them to continue to evolve the MDI process in the form of revised metrics/targets, facilitation skills, and thought leadership.

Examining the metrics and goals each day drives incremental improvement on the important metrics within the overall strategy. And by communicating those results and KPIs, the shipper and logistics providers can quickly connect, visualize and share data in one seamless experience. This, in turn, allows operations teams on both sides to explore and analyze data for critical metrics, such as on-time pickup and delivery performance, tender acceptance and more.

Applying the OGSM process can help better standardize the approach to account management across all operations, and create a culture of accountability and visual management in order to drive improvement every day.

¹“OGSM: Developing, Aligning and Deploying Strategy; ArchPoint Consulting

Jon Eberly photoJon Eberly has more than 20 years of experience in transportation and logistics industries. He is currently responsible for several managed transportation accounts within Transplace. Mr. Eberly joined Transplace after 6 years as director of global logistics for BIC Graphic/Norwood. He has also held management positions at UPS and Airborne Express/DHL. Mr. Eberly earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from the University of New Orleans.

Creative logistics partnership between DB Schenker and Airbus to benefit Mobile, Alabama – Supply Chain 24/7

In an announcement that has many global implications for one of the world’s largest logistics providers, DB Schenker has developed a streamlined logistics and transportation system for Airbus’ final assembly line production in Mobile, Ala. 

According to spokesmen, this is an indication “of strong European-U.S. trade relations,” as it is a model for increasing employment for the City of Mobile while allowing Airbus to widen its distribution network.

Airbus partnered with DB Schenker to develop a logistics plan to accommodate the manufacturer’s larger, ocean-going vessels. Those vessels are now being used for the international transport of four complete airplane “ship sets” per month. Using a new roll-on/roll-off terminal, its barge, and a newly-dredged section of river, Airbus can now use larger vessels to transfer the components by water.

Tanguy Largeau, DB Schenker’s Head of Vertical Market Aerospace Americas, says the logistics provider took an innovative approach to reduce road transport of the parts, and to mirror Airbus’ European operations and organize transportation via waterway. 

“The Port of Mobile (Alabama State Port Authority/ASPA) is a crucial element to ensure all stakeholders involved operate in a safe environment, and that the required infrastructure (ship berth, dock space, etc.) is in place to support this operation,” said Largeau in an interview with LM. 

He added that ASPA and all the other involved stakeholders have been crucial elements to the success of this project.

“At Brookley Airport in Mobile where the Airbus FAL and the DBS ISF are located the Mobile Airport Authority/MAA have also been a very important supporter and reason for success,” Largeau tol LM.

Working with local contractors, DB Schenker also refurbished a pier (at the production plant) and constructed a new airplane hangar, both of which are enabling just-in-time delivery and use of the airplane parts. 

Borrowing a page from Airbus’ European operations, the logistics provider came up with a way to organize the transportation via waterway. That plan would include a fully-refurbished dock and pier, and a new hangar. “We designed the solution and organized the project,” said Largeau, who adds that DB Schenker coordinated with local authorities, service providers, and Airbus itself to bring the multifaceted project to fruition. 

Airbus first used the new logistics setup for a shipment in May.

Michael L. Schoenfeld, Senior Vice President and Head of Contract Logistics for DB Schenker USA, said in a statement that the innovative concept is helping Airbus maximize area waterways, increase production, and utilize existing infrastructure that included a dock that was built and used during World War II. 

“Working with Airbus, the local authorities, and numerous local providers, we designed the solution, organized the project, and orchestrated it in a way that solved Airbus’ key challenges,” said Schoenfeld. “The first run with the new system was flawless.”

These immediate, positive results bode well for the U.S. and European economies impacted by this innovative partnership, which has helped to add/preserve employment while also creating new business opportunities for area service providers.  

“This project, which involved multiple divisions across DB Schenker, is a tribute to the entrepreneurial nature of our organization,” said Schoenfeld. “We were presented with a business problem and we funneled pockets of expertise across multiple divisions of our organization and found a way to a better solution.”

Indicator for Innovations

What are the key factors for a successful future in digitized logistics? The new DHL Logistics Trend Radar 2018/19 gives some information.

The fourth edition of DHL’s Logistics Trend Radar outlines the key societal, economic, and technological drivers on the logistics industry over the next five to ten years. The digital revolution has already fully captured the logistics industry. This is where the Trend Radar sees great potential, because digitalization opens up many new business models, possibilities for more efficiency in all processes, and real opportunities for improved customer service.

Four fundamental tendencies

The Logistics Trend Radar has identified the most important key factors in which the innovative strength of market participants will be particularly in demand in the future:

  1. Customer Orientation
    The desire for faster and more convenient logistics solutions drives especially all the B2B market, which will lead to omnichannel solutions. The increase in time and temperature-critical deliveries to consumers requires new innovations in storage and packaging. And in the last mile the trend towards “connected life” calls for the integration of logistics into smart home environments.
  2. Sustainability
    The greener design of logistics processes is a prerequisite for the functioning of global supply chains, both during the last mile and en route. Because far-reaching agreements of cities, governments, and companies to reduce pollutant emissions and waste prevention will come.
  3. Technology
    Artificial intelligence and robotics are crucial fields in terms of efficiency, speed, and value for money. Add to that the potential of the next generation of wireless networks, resulting in even better connectivity. Many experts rely on blockchain technology, but acceptance within the industry can become a hurdle to overcome.
  4. Humans
    Without personnel there can be no logistics, this applies today as it will in the future. However, the trend of robotics, automation and software automation are significantly changing the field of work, with a tendency to shift jobs to the management level. Digital working concepts are necessary in order to bind the current generation to the logistics sector on a lasting basis and to facilitate the daily work of other older employees.
Indexing of the 28 mega- and microtrends analyzed within the DHL Logistics Trend Radar 2018/19. [Chart: DHL]
Indexing of the 28 mega- and microtrends analyzed within the DHL Logistics Trend Radar 2018/19. [Chart: DHL]

Active participation

None of these developments is set in stone. “As much as we aim for an accurate prediction, we know from experience that the impact of some trends will not materialize. Innovation does not follow a linear path – the success of some trends will rely on culture and capabilities as much it does on breakthrough technologies and business acumen. That’s why we need to actively engage first-hand on driving the development of these trends,” explains Markus Kückelhaus, Vice President of Innovation & Trend Research, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. With this in mind, DHL will launch in-depth analysis of new trends after the release to further explore its implications.

Logistics Trend Radar
Published for the first time in 2013, DHL’s Logistics Trend Radar is based on the analysis of mega and micro trends and direct input from partners such as research institutes, technology companies, startups, and customers. Add to that information from more than 10,000 logistics and technology experts visiting one of the DHL Innovation Centers each year. The dynamic and strategic tool takes a look into the future, keeps track of previously reported developments, and presents promising new trends. Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Innovation & Commercial Development at DHL, says: “Our Logistics Trend Radar acts as a roadmap for innovation, helping to structure and catalyze further industry-leading research and projects together with our customers and partners.”

Taking a look at the (mid) year in review – Supply Chain 24/7

Most every December, in this space, I take a look at the logistics year in review. It is always fun to look back to see what some of the key themes were over the course of the year.

But this year Newsroom Notes is taking a look at the “year to date,” rather than the year in review so if you see some “repeats” at the end of the year, consider yourselves warned.

Tariffs 

One key theme over the course of 2018 is tariffs, which began in early March, when President Trump said that the U.S. would implement a 25% tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China. As of last week, those tariffs are now official, and, not surprisingly, China has retaliated with their own tariffs on goods imported from the U.S.

It is not just China either, as the European Union, Canada, and Mexico on 25% and 10% tariffs on aluminum in early June. While there was talk of a pending “trade war” earlier in the year, it truly appears that the battle has now begun. What this means for and does to global supply chains remains to be seen, as it is very early days, but it requires a watchful eye.

Technology

Where to begin with this one; there are many directions to go in. One direction clearly is the emerging presence and potential of blockchain technology. The blockchain wave has been building up momentum for more than a while, with many established and emerging players joining the party.

But blockchain is not the only guest at the party, as there are others being invited, too. Perhaps the other most ubiquitous guests are API (application programming interfaces), which enable 3PLs and shippers to connect with carriers in real time, and cloud computing, which continues to be heavily used by myriad supply chain stakeholders, as it removes a fair amount of heavy lifting in the form of needing complex IT infrastructure, server maintenance and related upgrades.

Technology is constantly evolving, and that is more than apparent in the supply chain these days.

Trucking capacity and the ongoing driver shortage

OK, I lumped these two items into one as they are interconnected to be sure. The market conditions in 2018 really tell the story, with many factors banding together into the strongest trucking market since 2014 and perhaps ever, depending on whom is talking.

We have covered this topic extensively in print and online and here they are again: trucking capacity is tight, coupled with a solid economy and low levels of unemployment. While that is happening, it has never been more difficult to secure capacity i.e. trucks.

And that goes back to the driver shortage, as well as driver churn or turnover. With unemployment so low, carriers are having a very, very hard time filling tractor seats, leaving us in the current predicament. Again, this has all been very well-documented in the press and at industry conferences, but it remains a problem that is not going away anytime soon either.

Freight rates

OK, so this is somewhat related to the aforementioned topic, but it merits a space of its own. In short, rates have climbed up significantly in 2018 to levels shippers say they have never seen before. To be sure it is a byproduct of tight capacity and the driver shortage that goes without saying.

Consultants and analysts point to shippers needing to do whatever they can to lock in contractual rates they can manage, rather than being forced to cull loads off the spot market, which, to be kind, is not financially advantageous.

Railroad service

Like many of previous items mentioned, this is by no means a 2018 topic only. In the freight railroad and intermodal sectors, service is always closely monitored both in good times and bad. Through June, U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes are up annually, with demand ticking up.

But while volumes are in a good spot, service has not necessarily seen material improvements but is likely to as summer moves along, according to industry observers. In any case, it appears that things are in a better place, when it comes to service and volumes, compared to a year ago.

Manufacturing continues to roll

The state of U.S.-based manufacturing is very strong just past the halfway point of 2018, based on data from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). ISM said that the PMI, the report’s key metric, headed up 1.5% in June to 60.2 (a reading of 50 or higher indicates growth).

This marks the 22nd consecutive month of PMI growth, with the overall economy now having grown for 110 straight months. The June PMI reading is 1.2% ahead of the 12-month average of 59.0. What’s more, June marks the third month the PMI has topped 60 in 2018 and along with September 2017, which also had a 60.2 reading, is the second-best month over the last 12 months.

June also marks the second highest month of 2018 for the PMI, with February’s 60.8 in the top spot. When manufacturing is posting better than good numbers like this, it stands to reason that it is also good for the supply chain, and that appears to be the case in mid-2018.

There are obviously many more themes that could be added to this list, and when this is updated at the end of the year, we will dig into them and also see what is happening with the ones that made the cut for the mid-year update.

In any event, these are interesting times in the supply chain, freight transportation and logistics sectors to say the least. Newsroom Notes looks forward to whatever comes next and will endeavor to keep you informed along the way.

IVECO’s Daily Natural Power fuels green-thinking – Logistics Manager Magazine

International logistics company Arcese has introduced a 6.5-tonne IVECO Daily Natural Power chassis cab light commercial vehicle powered by compressed natural gas into its UK fleet, enabling it to make unrestricted deliveries in central London and reduce its environmental impact.

The Daily Natural Power’s engine produces 12 per cent fewer NOx emissions, 76 per cent less particulate matter and up to 95 per cent less CO2 emissions when using bio-methane, which also makes total cost of ownership lower than diesel.

The vehicle features a purpose-built 3.0-litre natural gas spark ignition. It has 136 ph. and up to 350 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 2,730 rev/min which is comparable to diesel its counterparts. The vehicle 50 per cent quieter than diesel, making it ideal for early morning and night deliveries.

Most of Arcese’s journeys end up in London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which comes into force next year, said Arcese UK county manager Michele Nascetti: “we needed a manufacturer which could quickly supply gas-powered vehicles that already meet current and future emission standards.”

“Our group’s strategy has always been focused on reducing emissions and that’s why we keep introducing alternative-fuel vehicles,” said Nascetti. “We’re confident this addition to our UK fleet will play a key role for the next decade.”