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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Friday, June 2, 2023


Amazon Turns to AI to Weed Out Damaged Goods

The Wall Street Journal Lauren Weber June 1, 2023


Amazon so far has implemented the AI at two fulfillment centers and plans to roll out the system at 10 more sites in North America and Europe. The company has found the AI is three times as effective at identifying damage as a warehouse worker, said Christoph Schwerdtfeger, a software development manager at Amazon.
The AI checks items during the picking and packing process. Goods are picked for individual orders and placed into bins that move through an imaging station, where they are checked to confirm the right products have been selected. That imaging station will now also evaluate whether any items are damaged.

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Dollar General: No Longer Downturn-Proof

The Wall Street Journal Jinjoo Lee June 1, 2023


The company blamed worse-than-expected macroeconomic forces, noting that its typically lower-income customers were caught off-guard by lower tax refunds and a reduction in food-stamp benefits. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Owen said they are relying more on items priced at $1 or below. Similar to those of other retailers, many of Dollar General’s customers shifted spending to lower-margin consumable categories. While consumable category sales rose 8.9%, apparel sales fell 8.1%. Meanwhile “shrink,” or theft, pressured its margins, though that was mostly offset by other factors, including a decline in transportation costs.

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Manufacturing declines for the seventh straight month in May, reports ISM

Logistics Management Jeff Berman June 1, 2023

• New Orders, which are commonly referred to as the engine that drives manufacturing, fell 3.1%, to 42.6, contracting, at a faster rate, for the ninth consecutive month, with three sectors reporting growth;
• Production increased 2.2%, to 51.1, growing after five months of contraction (which were preceded by 30 consecutive months of growth), for its highest reading since October 2022’s 51.9, with seven sectors reporting growth;
• Supplier Deliveries, at 43.5 (a reading above 50 indicates contraction), moved faster, at a faster rate, for the eighth consecutive month, for its fastest supplier delivery performance since March 2009’s 43.2 reading, with two sectors reporting slower deliveries;
Link: Institute For Supply Management New Orders and Backlogs Contracting, Production and Employment Growing, Supplier Deliveries Faster  

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FMCSA Launches Program to Combat Human Trafficking

Heavy Duty Trucking June 1, 2023

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime, and it has no place in the transportation industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson. “But the hard-hitting reality is that our nation’s transportation systems are exploited by human traffickers every day, and FMCSA is working to help stop it.”
Because human trafficking poses a threat to transportation safety, FMCSA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said it is uniquely positioned to educate commercial vehicle drivers on ways to protect U.S. roadways against criminals perpetrating this crime.
Additionally, FMCSA requires states and the District of Columbia to permanently ban drivers convicted of human trafficking from operating a commercial motor vehicle, which requires a commercial driver’s license or commercial learner’s permit.
Link: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "Your Roads, Their Freedom” empowers drivers, other transportation workers to combat human trafficking

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NHTSA’s Advisory Panel on Underride Protection Raises Topics

Transport Topics Eric Miller June 1, 2023

ATA’s representative on the panel advanced the federation’s belief that focusing on safe operations is the key to preventing side underride crashes. “Our general stance on this is to look at preventing the crash from happening in the first place, versus mitigation after the fact,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “Our fleet members are spending $10 billion annually on safety investments.”

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FMCSA wants more regulation of tests for new truck drivers

Freight Waves John Gallagher June 1, 2023

In its report responding to the review requirement, FMCSA states that it biggest concern with doing so without imposing additional safeguards is “lack of regulatory requirements for states to audit and monitor the operations of third party knowledge examiners to ensure that third parties administer the knowledge tests equitably and without fraud, which requires regulatory oversight by states and, when applicable, FMCSA.”
It also states that examiner training and record-check requirements for state-employed knowledge test examiners should apply to third-party knowledge examiners.
Link: FMCSA The Third Party Commercial Drivers' License Skills Test Examiners Report To Congress

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EVs Have a Hole Big Enough to Drive a Hydrogen Truck Through

The Wall Street Journal Stephen Wilmot June 1, 2023


The deal might be a warning to investors that technological change is about to get more expensive for truck manufacturers, which are only just starting to increase output of EVs using battery technology borrowed from the car industry. The vast sums car companies are plowing into battery factories to increase capacity set an ominous precedent.
Electric truck sales are still very low. As of February, Sweden’s Volvo, which has emerged as the early market leader, had only sold about 4,300 EVs since it started producing them in 2019. Yet sales will need to rise to meet aggressive regulatory targets. In California, for example, manufacturers will be required to sell specific shares of zero-emission vehicles, starting with an ambitious 9% for the 2024 model year.

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Advanced Clean Fleets rule: Like it or not, it’s time to get ready

Freight Waves John Kingston June 1, 2023

With the full California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopting the Advanced Clean Fleets rule in late April, it sets the stage for what will amount to an almost 20-year process that is likely to end one of two ways.
The first is that the sheer economic heft of California, as well as the states that say they will follow its lead, will bring about such massive technological change that the fleets of most of America by 2042 will be powered by hydrogen, batteries, renewable diesel or … well, we don’t know yet what might be lurking out there as part of a technological revolution.

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CEO outlook: Optimism, and caution, pave the road ahead in Boston Consulting Group survey

Logistics Management June 1, 2023

According to the report, “CEO Outlook 2023: Caution, Optimism and Navigating the Road Ahead,” 73% of C-suite executives expect macroeconomic uncertainties to be a key challenge this year, yet 79% are optimistic in their company’s performance. BCG said that “while cost cutting is clearly their priority, most companies are doing so in ways aimed at resetting their organizations for growth and enhancing resilience.”
Link: Boston Consulting Group CEO Outlook 2023: Caution, Optimism, and Navigating the Road Ahead

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