This Week in Logistics News (February 18-22, 2013)

This was school vacation week and I spent most of it either with cross country skis or ice skates on my feet, which isn’t so bad except for the fact you have to be out in the cold to ski or skate, and I’m allergic to the cold, unlike my kids who would outlast any polar bear in a blizzard.

As I take a break to warm up, here’s a look at this week’s news:

C.H. Robinson Worldwide announced the release of a mobile app that extends the reach of its Navisphere platform, “allowing users to access critical shipment information with Apple or Android™ mobile devices.” Here are some details from the press release:

Navisphere app users are able to view detailed shipment information by searching for shipments via pickup or drop off dates, container, customer reference, or C.H. Robinson load numbers. In addition, users are able to view events of a shipment, imaged documents, and can email their account representative with questions on a particular move.


The Navisphere customer app can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Marketplace.

As I highlighted in my supply chain and logistics predictions for 2013, tablets and smartphones are quickly becoming the preferred computing platform for business professionals, which is why technology providers are designing and optimizing their applications for these devices. This is also another example of how the lines between 3PLs and technology companies continue to blur.

Speaking of 3PLs and technology, Transplace and CombineNet have extended their partnership agreement for a minimum of three more years. According to the press release:

Transplace leverages the CombineNet ASAP® advanced e-sourcing technology as part of its expert solutions, helping customers develop and optimize their carrier strategy for procurement events involving truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL), and intermodal needs. Transplace delivered more than 50 customer solutions in 2012 using the CombineNet sourcing technology, in industries including consumer goods, chemicals, manufacturing, and retail.

Meanwhile, Con-way Truckload and Con-way Multimodal announced the launch of a new North American intermodal product “that integrates the strengths and capabilities of both organizations to deliver a high-value, high-reliability offering for intermodal shipping” with an emphasis on U.S.-Mexico trade. This new collaborative service leverages Con-way Truckload’s capabilities in Mexico through its CFI Logistica subsidiary, “where it has 10 offices, an extensive drayage network and 40 years of in-country experience, and Con-way Multimodal’s resources, systems and freight procurement expertise.” According to the press release:

Con-way Truckload today derives 35 percent of its revenue from shipments destined for or originating in Mexico. The company has a fleet of 2,700 tractors and 8,800 trailers, with more than 2,300 trailers operating in Mexico.


Ultimately, the joint service provides a new solution for customers of both companies for U.S.-Mexico shipping, which is particularly timely as more companies locate manufacturing and distribution operations in Mexico and the need for capacity and reliable cross-border shipping services accelerates.

As I stated back in December, in response to a Reuters article highlighting how U.S. transport companies are cashing in on the Mexico trade boom, if you are a 3PL or transportation company and you’re not involved in cross-border shipping with Mexico, then you are missing out on a growing business.

In his State of the Union address a few weeks ago, President Obama signaled that infrastructure investments and climate change will be among his priorities this term. These topics are already being debated in Washington, and a couple of news items this week will certainly add fuel to the debate.

First, a new Reason Foundation report examining 20 years of state highway data finds the condition of America’s state-controlled roads has improved in seven key areas: miles of urban Interstate highways in poor pavement condition, miles of rural Interstates in poor condition, congestion on urban Interstates, deficient bridges, highway fatalities, rural primary roads in poor condition and the number of rural primary roads flagged as too narrow. Here are some excerpts from the press release:

In the 20 years examined, 11 states (North Dakota, Virginia, Missouri, Nebraska, Maine, Montana, Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Florida) made progress in all seven categories and 37 states improved in at least five of the seven metrics.


“There are still plenty of problems to fix, but our roads and bridges aren’t crumbling,” said David Hartgen, lead author of the Reason Foundation report and emeritus professor of transportation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The overall condition of the state-controlled road system is getting better and you can actually make the case that it has never been in better shape. The key going forward is to target spending where it will do the most good.”

And with regards to climate change, an article in the Wall Street Journal outlined the problems facing the European Union’s carbon market:

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, is trying to hammer out reforms that would permanently eliminate an oversupply of permits to emit carbon dioxide, which has pushed their price on the open market so low that there is little incentive to reduce emissions.


The short-term reforms that will be put to the vote Tuesday could push the price of a CO2 permit up to between €14 and €18, but not high enough to encourage investments in clean energy or carbon capture and storage, Mr. Oettinger [the European energy commissioner] said.

Speaking of climate change, it’s time to head back into the cold again, this time with sleds, a man and his little polar bears, to race down a snowy hill.

Song of the Week: “Miracle Mile” by Cold War Kids

(Note: C.H. Robinson, Con-way, and Transplace are Logistics Viewpoints sponsors)