This Week in Logistics News (November 6-10, 2017)

What are sidewalks made out of?

If you said cement, you would be wrong; sidewalks are typically made out of concrete.

Yes, there is a difference between cement and concrete, even though many people (including me, I admit) use the terms interchangeably. Cement is one of the raw materials that goes into making concrete, which is the finished product.

I learned that fact (and many more important things) at the Command Alkon ELEVATE 2017 conference in New Orleans this week. I’ll share my takeaways from the conference in a future post, but here’s another tidbit I learned when I visited The National World War II Museum during some free time on Tuesday (my way of observing Veterans Day): By D-Day, the Germans had poured 17 million cubic yards of concrete, reinforced by 1.3 million short tons of steel to fortify the coastline from the Franco-Spanish border up to Norway — enough concrete to build 270 Empire State Buildings!

Ok, enough about concrete; let’s move on to this week’s supply chain and logistics news…

As the compliance date for the Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate approaches (December 18, 2017), there are two important questions to be answered:

  • How will it impact capacity? That is, how many carriers will decide to exit the market instead of complying?
  • How will it impact productivity? In other words, how many driving hours will be cut back?

Data and predictions have been all over the map. This week, for example, CCJ reported that “60 percent of fleets running between 1 and 100 trucks have yet to adopt ELDs, according to a recent survey conducted by CarrierLists.” The article added that “the bulk of survey respondents operate between 6 and 25 trucks (1,570 of the 1,982 surveyed) [and] their adoption rates hovered around 40 percent.”

Back in January, I wrote a post highlighting results from a survey conducted by Transplace on ELD adoption (see The Impact of Electronic Logging Devices: Separating Hype from Reality). Here’s an excerpt:

Simply put, ELDs have been an operating reality for large carriers and their shipper clients for several years, so much of the cost and impact has already been baked into the market.

That said, small carriers (those with less than 250 trucks) have been much slower to implement ELDs. According to the survey results, only 33 percent of small carriers have fully integrated ELDs into their fleet. Another 29 percent have begun the implementation process, while the remaining 38 percent have no immediate plans to begin implementation. Data from transportation procurement events mirror these results.

Does this mean that somewhere between 38 and 60 percent of owner-operators and small carriers will not be compliant by December 18th? Does this mean that all of this capacity will exit the market?

Well, there is a grace period until April 1, 2018, so maybe some of these small carriers are just waiting until the absolute last minute to comply (although they can still get fined and receive CSA violation points starting December 18).

Most people that I talk to in the industry expect the ELD mandate to have a negative impact on capacity and productivity, but they don’t expect it to be as large as these surveys suggest. We’ll just have to wait and see what actually happens. In the meantime, plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Moving on to autonomous vehicles, “Uber signed a deal with NASA Wednesday to help develop traffic systems for its flying car project which it hopes to start testing in 2020,” according to CNBC. Here are more details from the article:

“UberAir will be performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies,” Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate.”

Earlier this year [Uber] said it was working with authorities in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai to bring its flying taxis to those cities…Uber said Wednesday that it also plans to trial the project in Los Angeles in 2020 along with the already announced cities.

I have to be honest, part of me says “This is so cool!” and part of me says “This is so scary!” Teaching my daughter to drive a terrestrial car was stressful enough, I can’t imagine what Driver’s Ed will be like in the future! Not to mention all of the ancillary risks associated with flying cars, like terrorists crashing them into schools, churches, sports stadiums, etc. (because, as we continue to see in the news, it’s a sick world we live in today).

Back on the ground, “a driverless shuttle bus was involved in a minor crash with a semi-truck less than two hours after it made its debut on Las Vegas streets Wednesday in front of cameras and celebrities,” as reported by SFGate. But before you blame the computer, here’s the best part: “The human behind the wheel of the truck was at fault, police said.” According to the article:

“The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that its sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident,” the city said in a statement.

“Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided.”

Finally, in software news, Elemica (a Talking Logistics sponsor) introduced Elemica Pulse, “a new solution that provides real-time predictive visibility from customer order to supplier delivery and the complete order-to-cash and procure-to-pay process.” Here are some details from the press release:

Elemica Pulse uses innovations in machine learning to help predict outcomes and correlate the dynamic influencers on their supply chain anomalies…Most significantly, Elemica Pulse features the Elemica Reality Check ™. As the Elemica Business Network captures event and transaction data across the entire network, it creates a critical mass of historical business information that is used to generate strategic and actionable insights. For example, if a carrier promises next-day delivery, Elemica Reality Check analyzes network data using proprietary algorithms to make an accurate prediction of delivery, alerting users on a high probability of late delivery.

As I commented in the press release, today’s businesses expect the same customer experience that consumers get from their online vendors with full visibility in real time, regardless of mode. Therefore, the need to convert data into actionable insights is more important than ever, and industry business networks, which enable trading partners to connect, communicate, and collaborate in more scalable and efficient ways, are responding by innovating their platforms with machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics capabilities.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Wake Up” by Chastity Brown