This Week in Logistics News (June 24-28, 2013)

Another crazy Friday morning, now with the kids out of school, so let’s go straight to this week’s news:

Retailers and small and midsize businesses (SMBs) – the two market segments supply chain and logistics software vendors are hyper-focused on these days. This week, for example, JDA announced enhancements to its workforce management (WFM) and all-channel commerce solutions that enable retailers “to simplify and automate retail execution, as well as unify their associates, to create and deliver a seamless and superior customer experience across all shopping channels while maintaining a consistent brand vision.” You can read the press release for more details, but here’s an excerpt about the enhancements made to JDA Workforce Management:

JDA Workforce Management includes a mobility platform that allows retailers to mobilize their workforce across the enterprise to drive sales, increase employee engagement and reduce time spent on administrative tasks.


Available in this latest software release, JDA’s workforce management solution includes the following workforce mobility applications: JDA Mobile Employee Connect, JDA Mobile Operations Connect, JDA Mobile Shift Connect and JDA Mobile Manager Connect. Functionality offered through these mobile applications includes: time and attendance, operations and reporting, dashboards and KPIs for managers, employee shift pickups and swaps for unplanned schedule changes, and more.

Meanwhile, HighJump Software announced that it has updated HighJump Warehouse Advantage Express, its warehouse management system (WMS) specifically designed for small and mid-sized wholesale distribution operations. HighJump Warehouse Advantage Express is built upon the same technology as its tier one HighJump Warehouse Advantage solution. Here are some details from press release:

The HighJump Warehouse Advantage Express WMS is affordably priced for small and mid-sized distribution operations. It provides the key warehouse management features needed to quickly deliver ROI, including the tracking and visibility of inbound orders, directed put-away, variety of picking methods, shipping, directed replenishment and inventory control.


The WMS can be deployed in the cloud or on-premise. Companies can purchase only the functionality they need, then add more complex features and modules as needed over time.

On the logistics service provider front, FedEx announced that it is buying 1,900 lightweight, composite-body Reach vehicles from Utilimaster, a division of Spartan Motors. According to the press release, “The Reach van, with its four-cylinder, 3.0-liter Isuzu diesel engine, demonstrates a 35% fuel efficiency improvement over traditional vehicles in the FedEx Express fleet. The lower-weight body design, along with the engine, allows every Reach to significantly reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions compared to conventional walk-in vans.” This purchase is part of the company’s efforts to improve the fuel efficiency of its vehicle fleet 30 percent by 2020 (compared to 2005).

One way for 3PLs to differentiate themselves in the market is to specialize — that is, go deep in meeting the unique requirements of a vertical industry. A great example is what UPS has been doing in the healthcare industry — an industry that was relatively late to logistics outsourcing, but is now a growth market (see “Understanding Why Companies Outsource Logistics”). This week UPS launched UPS Proactive Response Secure, “a proactive shipment monitoring and risk management solution…[that] helps ensure time-and temperature-sensitive shipments reach their destinations and guarantees up to the retail value, in addition to other costs, when unexpected events occur – including weather delays.” According to the press release, the solution provides “round-the-clock, 24/7 proactive monitoring and intervention services” and “leverages proactive technology to provide continuous visibility into potential delivery disruptions in near real time to ensure successful product delivery.”

When you consider that a single pallet of a high-value pharmaceutical drug can be worth millions of dollars, UPS must have a lot of confidence in its technology, processes, and people to offer such a guarantee, and I’m sure the cost of the service takes into account the risk the company is assuming.

Last week, I provided my perspective on the future trucking. This week, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) released the latest edition of U.S. Freight Forecast to 2024, which projects an overall increase in freight volumes for all modes of more than 20 percent and an increase in the amount of freight moved by trucks. According to the forecast, overall freight revenue will grow by 63.6 percent to $1.3 trillion annually in 2024 and trucking will see its share of those revenue rise to 81 percent from 80.7 percent in 2012. Truckload volumes will grow 3.2 percent through 2018 and 1.1 percent annually between 2019 and 2024, and intermodal rail will continue to be the fastest growing freight mode, growing an average of 5.1 percent a year until 2018 then slowing moderately to 4.8 percent annually through 2024.

I have a hard time predicting what’s going to happen next month, never mind 11 years from now, especially with so many moving parts involved (the global economy, regulations, geopolitical issues, and so on). But it’s an educated guess nonetheless.

Finally, last October I wrote that the most significant problem facing 3PLs and shippers was a shortage of supply chain and logistics talent. 3PLs are starting to take action, as evidenced by this week’s announcement by Menlo Worldwide Logistics that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Temasek Polytechnic, a tertiary education institution in Singapore, to establish new scholarship program for students pursuing careers in logistics and supply chain management. Here are some details from the press release:

Under the programme, Menlo has established four annual scholarships of S$2,500 each. The scholarships will be awarded to selected students in their third and final year of study at Temasek Polytechnic who are pursing Diploma in the School of Operations and Logistics Management.


The programme includes a three-month internship at a Menlo facility for each scholarship recipient, enabling the students to gain real-world, hands-on experience in logistics operations as they pursue completion of their studies. Upon graduation, and with the recommendation of their internship mentor at Menlo, graduates will be considered for full-time employment opportunities with Menlo.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis