This Week in Logistics News (October 17-21, 2016)

How was the JDRF Death Valley Ride? Brutal, exhilarating, and inspiring!

Imagine hell during a heat wave, then add 35-50 mph crosswinds — those were the conditions we faced during the first 40 miles. Because of the winds, which slowed everybody down considerably, and cut-off times to reach certain points on the course, I was one of only 40 riders (out of 300) who was able to reach Jubilee Pass and complete the 102 miles. It took me 7:09 to finish. I felt like throwing up and giving up many times, but thinking of my daughter and all those living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and the fact they can’t afford to give up gave me the strength to keep going.

It was exhilarating and inspiring to see so many people – my teammates, other riders, coaches, and volunteers – coming together for this great cause. The JDRF Death Valley ride raised $1.5 million to help turn Type One into Type None. Our Logistics Leaders for T1D Cure Team (LL4T1DCure) raised just under $43,000 for the cause!

To my teammates Charity Newsome, Gina Pratico, James Coon, and Ken Wood: Thank you for all of the time and energy you invested in training for this ride and helping to raise funds. I was truly inspired by your dedication, as well as your grit and resolve during the ride. Sharing this experience with you, which we all agree was the hardest ride we’ve ever done, is what made it extra special for me.

To our sponsors Descartes, Elemica, LeanLogistics, and MercuryGate, as well as the many family members and friends who donated: Your generosity made this experience possible, and your donations will go a long way toward improving the lives of people living with T1D, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

It’s been less than a week since we did the ride and I’m already planning for next year. If you’re interested in learning more about our LL4T1DCure Team and riding with us next year, please contact me.

Moving on, here’s this week’s supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention:

It’s been almost two years since I first wrote about blockchain technology and its potential use in supply chain management, and so far this year we’ve seen several companies announcing initiatives in this area (see Toyota and USPS See Opportunities for Blockchain Technology in Supply Chain Management). The latest example, as reported by Reuters: “IBM, U.S. retailer Walmart and Tsinghua University on Wednesday announced a joint effort to track the movement of food products in China using blockchain technology to improve food safety in the world’s second-largest economy.” Here are some additional details from the article:

With blockchain, the movement of food products can be digitally tracked from suppliers including farms to the store shelves and ultimately to consumers.

IBM said this could be done on the blockchain, which provides a permanent record of transactions that cannot be altered. This would serve as a viable alternative to traditional paper tracking and manual inspection systems, IBM added.

When applied to the food supply chain, product information such as farm origin details, batch numbers, factory and processing data, expiration dates, storage temperatures and shipping details are digitally connected to food items, and the information is entered on the blockchain at every step of the process, IBM said.

The information in each transaction is agreed upon by all members of the business network. Once a consensus is reached, it becomes a permanent record that cannot be changed, IBM said.

Is blockchain technology a better platform for supply chain tracking and visibility than current solutions? Are the benefits it provides so much greater than today’s platforms to justify everybody moving to it? Those are open questions today, but what’s clear to me is that the strongest business case for blockchain lies in supply chain processes where traceability and chain of custody are very critical, and the food supply chain certainly fits the bill.

It’s one step forward, one step back when it comes to rules and regulations for driverless vehicles. Last month the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued federal policy for the safe testing and deployment of automated vehicles. This week, as reported by Reuters, California proposed making those voluntary guidelines mandatory in the state, “which industry officials [including Google and leading automakers] said could hobble their efforts in the home to much of self-driving vehicle testing and development.” This is further proof that the road to regulatory approval for driverless/autonomous vehicles will be long and bumpy.

Finally, in trucking news, the American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index declined 5.8% in September; compared with September 2015, the SA index fell 0.7%, the first year-over-year decline since October 2015. Here’s what ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello had to say about it:

“Volatility this year continued again in September with the large drop after a significant increase in August. The changes we’re seeing in typical seasonal trends are making it difficult to discern any real or clear trend in truck tonnage.

“Adjusting for the larger ups and downs this year, as well as talking with many fleets, I currently see a softer than normal freight environment, which is likely to continue until the inventory correction is complete. Looking ahead, the slow growth economic environment does not suggest that significantly stronger truck tonnage numbers are in the near term either.”

In related news, the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index “decreased 3.5% year over year in September, representing seven consecutive months of year over year declines. According to analysts at Avondale Partners, softening demand and increasing capacity warrant a pricing forecast of -3% to 1% through mid-2017.”

Simply put, the crystal ball for trucking in the weeks and months ahead remains cloudy and uncertain.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week (the song stuck in my head during the whole JDRF ride): “The Painted Desert” by 10,000 Maniacs