This Week in Logistics News (April 11-15, 2016)

Today marks the three-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, a sad and scary day, especially those of us living in the Boston area. My wife’s cousin ran the marathon that year and he wasn’t able to finish the race due to the bombings, but as I wrote at the time, we were just happy he made it home safely.

As this year’s runners get ready for Monday’s marathon, including a good friend, I pause for a moment to think about the people who died three years ago. May their memory continue to be a source of strength and comfort to their families and friends and us all. And to the many who were injured that day, you continue to inspire us with your courage and perseverance. Race on.

Moving on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

If the rumors are true, the next piece in Amazon’s logistics puzzle is buying an airport, specifically Hahn airport in Germany. According to Lloyd’s Loading List:

Although reports last month suggested that Amazon’s primary focus in Germany currently is to find a new location for a major distribution centre, there is now speculation that it may be one of three parties interested in acquiring Hahn airport…German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung indicated that discussions [between the airport and Amazon] had taken place, although it was unclear exactly what had been the subject of the discussions.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung speculated that Hahn would be a reasonable location for a hub for Amazon, located in the middle of Europe and close to its logistics centre in Koblenz.

How long before Amazon announces that it is buying its own 18,000 TEU container ship? With Amazon, you never know, which is why I’ll be updating the presentation I will deliver at the SMC3 Connections 2016 Conference on June 28th in Chicago (“A–Z: The Emergence of Amazon as a Global 3PL”) from now until I walk on stage.

Speaking of container ships, there continues to be a lot of confusion and uncertainty surrounding the new SOLAS requirements, which go into effect on July 1, 2016. If you’re not familiar with SOLAS, check out the two guest commentaries we have published on the topic in recent months: Don’t Get Caught Off-Guard: Preparing for July 2016 SOLAS Shipper Mandates and The Impact of SOLAS on Ocean Shipping and Data Management. A press release issued this week by GT Nexus highlights some of the questions and concerns the shipping community has:

The GT Nexus Shipper Council [a business collaboration community, representing over 70 major shippers who collectively move over 7 million TEUs of containerized freight each year] is calling for clear and standardized processes for upcoming regulations on declaring cargo weight, defining a single global weight tolerance, and delivering unified VGM [Verified Gross Mass] communication that accounts for the reality that containers are often turned in to terminals within minutes of loading.

There continues to be a general lack of clarity among the shipping community as to acceptable tolerances, who is legally responsible, how or if ports and terminals will be involved, and what happens in situations such as near-dock loading, street turns, and supplier compliance. Considering that there are multiple ports, countries and carriers each developing their own guidelines, the need for a global process standard is critical.

In short, everyone involved with ocean shipping needs to stay informed of the ongoing developments surrounding SOLAS.

The good news about SOLAS, which is true for all new regulations, is that it creates opportunities for technology companies to offer solutions. As linked above, CargoSmart is the latest vendor to introduce a SOLAS solution, following in the footsteps of INTTRA, Descartes, GT Nexus, and others.

Finally, if you’re keeping a pulse on freight activity in the U.S., the Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI) fell 0.7 percent in February from January (but was up 1.0 percent from February 2015). According to the press release, the decrease “was due to substantial declines in trucking and pipeline, and a smaller decrease in rail intermodal,” with declining manufacturing activity and high inventory-to-sales ratios as contributing factors.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Glorious You” by Frank Turner

Note: Descartes and GT Nexus are Talking Logistics sponsors.