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Friday, July 24, 2020
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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ACT Research: For-Hire Trucking Index Keeps Rebounding in June

Truckinginfo.com July 23, 2020

June’s improved rates probably benefited from parked trucks and the number of laid-off drivers, according to Vieth. The rebound from April’s low freight volumes “underscores the rapid move in freight rates,” he added, “as the market moved from too little to too much freight relative to available capacity. The path on rates from here will be largely determined by the economy’s ability to hold the line on freight volumes.”

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Amazon confirms indefinite Prime Day postponement

Retail Dive Daphne Howland July 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has spurred the temporary closure of hundreds of stores and furloughs of thousands of retail workers, at first glance seems like it would also be a boon to e-commerce. Many analysts do expect consumer habits to change even in the long term, and already digital sales have risen in several categories. Amazon a few weeks ago added 100,000 full- and part-time positions in its fulfillment and delivery network in response to the increased demand. But, as people work in the warehouses and distribution centers that make e-commerce possible, retailers have also had to take precautions against the spread of the disease in those operations. Amazon itself told its Marketplace sellers that it was limiting intake of products to its warehouses to medical supplies and household staples. The company is also warning customers that it's prioritizing orders for those in need of essential goods, and that less pressing orders may take longer to arrive, especially internationally.

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Home Depot leans on efficiency analysis for sustainable transport plan

Supply Chain Dive Emma Cosgrove July 23, 2020

Fewer miles traveled and less unused space are a good place to start for an efficient supply chain. They're also a good place to start to reduce emissions, according to Home Depot VP of Transportation Michelle Livingstone. "As we try and improve the efficiency of our supply chain, it actually results in massively better sustainability measures," Livingstone told Supply Chain Dive in an interview Wednesday. Home Depot has pledged to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2035 compared to 2011. The company announced Thursday it made a 10% reduction from 2018 to 2019. And when it comes to transportation, that progress is about tracking efficiency and working with partners.

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Unilever Capitalizes on Coronavirus Cleaning Boom

The Wall Street Journal Saabira Chaudhuri July 23, 2020

Mr. Jope said sales in Unilever’s hygiene arm—which includes cleaning sprays, hand soap and hand sanitizer—jumped 26% in the second quarter. Within that, sanitizer sales—albeit from a small base—rose by over 20,000%. The company’s Domestos line of cleaners climbed 37%, while its Cif surface cleaners grew by 20%. By region, North America was a bright spot, with Unilever reporting underlying sales growth of 9.5%—its best quarterly performance in the region for over a decade, according to analysts at UBS. That gain was driven by its hygiene business and the shift toward more home-cooking during lockdowns, which buoyed sales of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and ice-cream brands Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s.

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Electronics supply chains are stuck between a pandemic and a trade war. Where do they go from here?

Supply Chain Dive Morgan Forde July 23, 2020

This year has been an uphill battle for the electronics sector. A March McKinsey study cautioned that electronics companies could stock out by April due to coronavirus-driven factory shutdowns in China and extended lead times. The shutdowns in China impacted "about a month to 45-day cycle," Richard Barnett, chief marketing officer at Supplyframe, told Supply Chain Dive. “And [production capacity] is coming back to maybe 5% to 10% lower than year over year, seasonally adjusted.”

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June Trailer Orders Hit 13,441

Transport Topics Roger Gilroy July 23, 2020

U.S. trailer orders in June improved by more than 100% from a year earlier as they pushed past 13,000 to reach the second-highest level for the year, ACT Research reported. Net orders were 13,441, according to ACT. That compared with 6,278 a year earlier when heavy cancellations reflected concerns over expected declines in the 2020 freight environment. Year-to-date orders stood at 52,629 compared with 96,081 in 2019.

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Study: companies convert idle retail sites to last-mile fulfillment facilities

DC Velocity July 23, 2020

The Los Angeles-based firm found that 13.8 million square feet of retail space has been converted to 15.5 million square feet of industrial space across the country since 2017, a shift that is likely to accelerate as e-commerce continues to expand and industrial rents reach all-time highs. The study shows 59 retail-to-industrial conversion projects that have been completed, proposed, or underway since 2017. This is a marked increase from the previous survey in January of 2019, which counted just 24, CBRE said. Of those 59 projects currently tracked, 40 of them, or 67.8%, are conversions or adaptive reuse, while the remaining 19 projects (32.2%) are properties that were demolished for new construction. Link:  CBRE U.S. Retail-to-Industrial Property Conversions Accelerate

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FBI bulletin says ELDs did ‘little to nothing’ to follow cybersecurity guidelines

Land Line Greg Grisolano July 23, 2020

Industry and academic research into a selection of self-certified electronic logging devices found those in the sample did little to nothing to follow cybersecurity best practices and were vulnerable to compromise. That’s the takeaway from a cybersecurity bulletin issued by the FBI’s Cyber Division earlier this week. The sample included ELDs that could be purchased off the shelf at superstores and ELDs supplied by well-known companies. The agency warns that cyber criminals could exploit vulnerabilities in ELDs, which became required equipment in most commercial trucking operations in December 2017. Last December was the deadline for companies using an AOBRD to switch to e-logs.

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Report: Wide use of self-driving vehicles ‘at least’ a decade away

Freight Waves Linda Baker July 23, 2020

Cost, technology development hurdles to market penetration The MIT authors, whose conclusions draw on existing research, remain skeptical about rapid near-term adoption. Although many tech startups cite regulation as the primary hurdle to autonomous vehicle deployment, the authors point to technical glitches and cost as challenges the self-driving car, transit and truck sectors have yet to overcome. “In terms of technical knowledge, the expansion of automated vehicle systems is likely to be quite slow, because there is no guarantee that improvements in driving performance will happen linearly or predictably in these varying applications.”

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After losing Supreme Court ruling, Prime offers $28M to settle lawsuits with drivers

CCJ James Jaillet July23, 2020

Prime argued in the Supreme Court in 2018 that because it included arbitration clauses in its agreements with independent contractors, any employment disputes should be handled by third-party arbiters. The Supreme Court disagreed in February 2019, ruling that transportation workers such as truck drivers are exempt from arbitration clauses, thus throwing the original lawsuit against Prime back to the lower courts to decide. “Prime is pleased that it has reached a resolution of this litigation matter,” said Steve Crawford, Prime’s general counsel. “We are proud of how we treat our drivers, and we work hard to get it right. Nevertheless, we decided that moving past the litigation was the right thing to do.”

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ATA Meets With OMB to Discuss Hair Sample Testing Rule

Transport Topics Eric Miller July 23, 2020

“Our rationale for the meeting was that the guidance has been sitting around for a long time, and we’d like to get it done,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president of advocacy, who headed a virtual meeting of several ATA employees with OMB officials earlier this month. “The feeling we got from OMB was, ‘It’s been here too long already. We know it has to get done, and we hear you.’ ” It was more than four years ago that Congress passed a law mandating a drug-testing rule for truck drivers and certain federal employees using hair samples, and the rule has been on hold at OMB for 13 months amid rumored internal disagreements among various federal agencies and some unions potentially affected by the complex hair testing guidance. OMB generally attempts to review a rule for up to 90 days before sending it back to an agency with questions, suggestions or approval. The ATA meeting represented a last-ditch effort to get things moving prior to the November elections, Sullivan said. “It felt to me that they are getting close to doing something,” he said.

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Toll Roads With Fewer Cars an Unlikely Haven for Bond Buyers

Bloomberg Amanda Albright July 23, 2020

The nearly $140 billion of debt sold for U.S. toll roads would seem like an unlikely place to shelter from the crippling economic side effects of the pandemic. Cars have disappeared from roads and highways across the country as tens of millions of Americans work from home, have lost their jobs or are bunkered down to avoid infection. But operators of toll roads were prepared by keeping large cash balances to help them withstand shocks like the pandemic. The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, one of the largest toll operators by mileage, had more than 590 days of cash on hand at the end of 2019, a figure it had gradually increased following the Great Recession a decade ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Survey Shows More Women Moving Into Top Supply-Chain Jobs

The Wall Street Journal Jennifer Smith July 21, 2020

Women are taking a greater share of top corporate supply-chain roles, with retail and consumer goods businesses showing the strongest leadership pipelines, according to a new report. Seventeen percent of chief supply-chain officers are now women, an annual Gartner Inc. survey found, up from 11% in 2019 and the highest proportion since the survey’s first edition in 2016. The 2020 Women in Supply Chain Survey, released Tuesday, gathered data from 177 shippers and supply-chain providers with more than $100 million in revenue.

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Businesses Hit Hard by Pandemic Drive U.S. Jobs Recovery

The Wall Street Journal Eric Morath and Kim Mackrael July 24, 2020

Health care and logistics are industries with high demand for new workers, according to ZipRecruiter. Since May 1, 18% of all new job postings have been in the health field and 15% have been in transportation and storage, a sector that is expanding as more consumers purchase goods online.

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