Supply Chain Logistics News (August 25, 2022)

The streak ends at age 35.

I’ve been driving for how long and I’ve never had a ticket. Until last Saturday.

I was not accelerating. I didn’t run a red light or drive through a stop sign. I didn’t do any of the usual things people get ticketed for. What I failed to do was pull over and change lanes in time to give further clearance to a police cruiser and another vehicle stopped in the recovery lane. From my point of view, I didn’t feel like I had enough time to move safely through time, but that’s what it is.

It’s now week 1 of a new safe driving sequence.

Moving on (or more) to this week’s supply chain and logistics news:

Back in January 2019, in a guest comment titled “Excess inventory? No problem. Got trailers in the yard,” Matt Yearling (former CEO of PINC, now part of Kaleris) wrote the following:

“Just as your neighbors use on-demand portable storage to store household items during move-ins, moves, or home improvement projects, yard truck trailers are increasingly being used to store goods as as mobile warehouses.”

Yes, history keeps repeating itself.

As Liz Young reported in The Wall Street Journal this week, “Companies that are overflowing with inventory and running out of warehouse space are increasingly turning to ad hoc arrangements that include storing goods in parking lots. and on truck trailers as they face a continued disconnect between supply and demand.”

However, by trying to solve one problem, you create other problems. As Young points out, “Shipping experts say the practice of keeping goods on transport equipment adds to greater strains in already strained supply chains, as it ties up shipping containers, trailers trucks and truck frames needed to keep goods moving, making it harder for trucking companies and ocean carriers to get the equipment they need to the right place at the right time.

There is the additional issue that many companies lack fleet management capabilities, including not having detailed visibility into the inventory of these trailers. As Yearling wrote:

“Few would argue with the level of flexibility that mobile trailers offer businesses that need more space, but with this emerging storage option comes new demands and challenges for the businesses that use it. Within the supply chain, for example, knowing what stock is available at any given time, quickly finding where the stock is, and then linking that data to transportation and delivery is an ongoing challenge.

I echoed this point last May in “Why Implement a Yard Management System?” » :

Historically, site management has been the weakest link in the end-to-end supply chain, with many companies still relying on clipboards or low-tech solutions to manage their operations. As a result, they incur significant costs in the form of unproductive labor, higher demurrage and detention costs, lost or misplaced trailers, product spoilage, and excess inventory (among other cost factors) . They also fail to meet customer expectations for service, visibility and responsiveness, which limits their ability to differentiate and compete on customer experience.

Simply put, using truck trailers as temporary mobile warehouses is a strategy worth considering, but you need to understand the wider implications – and if you don’t have good yard management skills, all you’re really doing is playing whack-a-mole.

For related commentary, please read “Site Management: The Biggest Limiting Factor in Supply Chains”.

Whether due to a tight labor supply or a need to scale operations profitably, companies and logistics service providers will almost certainly continue to implement robots. and other types of warehouse automation technologies in the coming years.

I wrote this in January 2022 in “Robots In The Warehouse: A Question Of When”.

The latest example of this trend: GEODIS and Locus Robotics announced this week “a new expansion agreement to deploy a total of 1,000 LocusBots across GEODIS’ global warehouses over the next 24 months. This represents one of the largest AMRs in the industry [autonomous mobile robots] transactions to date. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

GEODIS has currently deployed AMR Locus at 14 sites around the world, serving a wide range of retail and consumer brands, including warehouses in the United States and Europe. The agreement will significantly expand this footprint as new sites are rolled out.

“As we continue to address industry-wide challenges such as soaring e-commerce demand and workforce constraints, it is critical that we remain committed to implementing the most innovative and efficient robotic automation solutions available in our warehouses to enable us to better serve our customers,” said Eric Douglas, Executive Vice President Technology and Engineering at GEODIS Americas. Locus bots has proven to be effective and reliable at each of our sites, allowing us to easily scale performance while providing a safe and smart working environment for our teammates.This new expansion agreement reinforces our clear and continued commitment to cutting-edge technology to meet our exploding customer volumes globally.

I will repeat what I said in January: the question for most companies is not whether to implement robotic technologies in the warehouse, but when.

And with that, have a nice weekend!

Song of the Week: “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” by Arcade Fire

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