AEB News Brief

The AEB News Brief

Trending today: FedEx, UPS, and Amazon Dodged a Holiday Logistical Nightmare and the U.S. Postal Service is about to spend $6 billion on new delivery trucks.

AEB News Brief
AEB News Brief
AEB News Brief

Welcome to the AEB news brief. It's our regular update on major events and interesting things going on in the world of supply chain, global trade and logistics. You can find the brief by following our pages on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

This holiday season had all the makings of a logistical nightmare. Thanksgiving fell late, shortening the number of days carriers would have to ship an unprecedented number of packages. The last time the season was so short, in 2013, United Parcel Service Inc. failed to deliver orders from Amazon.com Inc. and others by Christmas, forcing the sellers to dole out gift cards and refunds. In the years since, UPS and rival FedEx Corp. have spent billions of dollars to upgrade their networks. This was a chance to prove it had paid off, but it was also a key test for the internal logistics arm that Amazon has been expanding with gusto since that fateful 2013 holiday season. (Bloomberg)

Apple Inc is trying to change the way electronics are recycled with a robot that disassembles its iPhone so that minerals can be recovered and reused, while acknowledging rising global demand for electronics means new mines will still be needed. The Cupertino, California-based company says the robot is part of its plan to become a "closed-loop" manufacturer that does not rely on the mining industry, an aggressive goal that some industry analysts have said is impossible. (Reuters)

German OEM Daimler Buses enters the new year looking to develop a new business model: directly producing spare parts in-house for customers via 3D printing. Components produced by the process also called additive manufacturing currently come from external providers and meet specified quality standards, including those related to status of being a genuine part for the group’s Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands. Daimler wants to transfer that work in-house for customers. “The objective is to reorganise the value-added chain of the individual production areas and to derive a new business model from it,” the company said. (Automotive Logistics

The United States' trade war with China is far from over, according to Janet Yellen, who is warning thatunresolved tensions over technology could divide the world and slow the development of artificial intelligence and 5G. The former chair of the Federal Reserve said Monday at the Asian Financial Forum that the "phase one" trade deal agreement struck by Washington and Beijing and due to be signed this week will leave tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese goods in place. And it doesn't remove the "more troublesome" risk of conflict over emerging technologies, she warned. (CNN Business)

The U.S. Postal Service said it will award an expected $6 billion in contracts for the next-generation mail truck later this year. The agency is providing only the scantest details but in late December asked up to four separate company teams for contract proposals to build the new truck. Each of the teams previously has provided prototype vehicles to the Postal Service for evaluation. The post office now uses about 140,000 Grumman Long Life Vehicles for its main delivery service. Manufactured from 1987 through 1994, they need to be replaced. A 2014 audit from the office of the USPS inspector general found that the current fleet can only meet the delivery needs of the agency through the 2017 fiscal year. (Trucks.com)


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Autonomous truck developer Plus.ai has announced anew safety testing program that it says will enable self-driving trucks to drive on public roads anywhere in the continental United States by the end of this year. According to the company, the new safety program will allow testing on closed courses, as well as public roads, with a safety driver and operations specialist on board to assume manual control if needed. The company is exploring new testing facilities and pilot runs that will broaden the complex driving scenarios that its autonomous system is capable of handling. (Trucking Info)

US startup Agility Robotics has announced that its bipedal robot Digit is now for sale, with the first two units bought by automaker Ford to research last-mile package delivery. Digit is approximately the size and shape of a small adult human. It’s able to navigate environments semi-autonomously with the help of LIDAR and other sensors, and it can carry boxes in its arms up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) in weight. Agility Robotics says it can be put to a range of uses, including in logistics, warehouses, telepresence, and industrial inspection. (The Verge

FedEx and UPS delivered a lower rate of packages on time during the 2019 holidays compared to 2018, new shipping data shows. FedEx’s on-time delivery percentage from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve fell to 94.6%, according to ShipMatrix, a firm analyzing shipping data. UPS’ on-time delivery percentage was 96.6%, per the data. The data for FedEx and UPS' busy holiday shipping stretch known as "peak season" comes from ShipMatrix customers who ship with the companies analyzed. (USA Today)

Tesla has begun delivery of its China-made Model 3 sedans to much fanfare and enthusiasm, but analysts say the company will have to do a lot more to energize longer-term demand in the world’s largest auto market. On Tuesday, the company marked the occasion–a major step in its global push—with a ceremony attended by billionaire CEO Elon Musk and government officials near Shanghai. (Forbes)

A recent Grant Thornton survey of more than 250 C-level executives and business owners found more than three-quarters of respondents expect a recession to occur within the next two years. Organisations can prepare for the uncertain times ahead by adopting a recession mitigation framework that targets the most high-risk supply base, process and delivery capabilities. With such a framework in place, they can quickly develop what can be termed a ready-for-deployment supply chain immune system to minimize any disruptions and preserve the competitive advantage of their supply chain. (Supply Chain Digital) 

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Verifying pigs, tracking shares of liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co., and pledging loyalty to the Communist Party. These are just some of the blockchain projects getting a boost amid a frenzy spurred by comments from President Xi Jinping. Companies and government officials alike are embracing the technology underpinning Bitcoin after Xi urged faster development of blockchain ahead of a recent key policy meeting by high-ranking Chinese officials. (SupplyChainBrain)

U.S. disruption of the global economic order reaches a major milestone on Tuesday as the World Trade Organization (WTO) loses its ability to intervene in trade wars, threatening the future of the Geneva-based body. Two years after starting to block appointments, the United States will finally paralyze the WTO’s Appellate Body, which acts as the supreme court for international trade, as two of three members exit and leave it unable to issue rulings. Major trade disputes, including the U.S. conflict with China and metal tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, will not be resolved by the global trade arbiter. (Reuters)

When talking about the automotive industry and the part it’s playing in climate change, one has to take into account every possible aspect, not just tailpipe emissions. The approach towards cutting CO2 emissions must include not just the end product but also how that product was made and delivered. To this end, BMW announced it will be joining the Getting to Zero Coalition, in an effort to slash CO2 emissions of its international maritime shipping. The objective of this initiative is to use zero-emission cargo vessels from 2030. The Getting to Zero Coalition is a partnership between the Global Maritime Forum, the Friends of Ocean Action and the World Economic Form. (BMW Blog)

UPS has confirmed an expansion across 40 countries of its UPS Worldwide Express and UPS Express Plus. The expansion is part of the UPS international suite of shipping services that guarantees time and day definite delivery for urgent shipments. UPS express services are now available to businesses across 140 countries and territories The expansion provides morning or midday service for companies seeking to improve time to market, speed inventory replenishment and allow urgent needs for time-sensitive shipments for international growth areas worldwide to be met. (SupplyChainDigital)

Volvo Trucks has designed a concept electric truck it claims could make construction sites and freight transport greener and healthier, it announced yesterday. The firm, a subsidiary of Swedish automaker Volvo, said it could see "great potential" for electric heavy duty trucks that promise to slash carbon emissions, air pollution, and noise levels. (BusinessGreen)

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