This Week in Logistics News (April 23-27, 2018)

I finally came out of hibernation earlier this week and did my first outdoor bike ride of the year. I was a bit rusty when I started, but it felt good to be outdoors after riding in the basement all winter!

We have eight riders confirmed so far for our Logistics Leaders for Type 1 Diabetes Cure Team — the most ever! Here’s the current roster:

A big thank you to our team sponsors and everyone who has donated so far. We’ve raised almost $22K already — a good start to reaching our $75K goal!

It’s not too late to sponsor or join our team. If you enjoy cycling, have a connection to T1D, or just want to take on a personal challenge for a great cause, please contact me for more info. Or if you want to make a donation to support one of our team members, just click on their name above.

Finally, congrats to our returning rider James Coon from BluJay Solutions. He earned the “Hannah’s Hero” jersey (named for my daughter who has T1D) for being the top individual fundraiser on the team last year. You can see him above proudly wearing the jersey while training indoors a couple of weeks ago.

Okay, moving on, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week…

Will This TV Fit in My Car Trunk?

If delivering a package to your doorstep, to the inside of your house, to a locker, to your workplace, or to a nearby convenience store (did I forget another option?) still doesn’t work for you, now you have yet another option: delivery to your car trunk.

Amazon this week announced that “Amazon Key, the service that already enables in-home delivery and keyless guest access, now gives customers an option to receive deliveries inside their vehicle.” Here are some additional details from the press release:

To get started, customers download the Amazon Key App and then link their Amazon account with their connected car service account. Once setup is complete and the delivery location has been registered, customers can shop on and select the “In-Car” delivery option at checkout.

On delivery day, the Amazon Key App lets customers check if they’ve parked within range of the delivery location, and provides notifications with the expected 4-hour delivery time window. The App also notifies customers when the delivery is on its way, and the package has been delivered. Customers can track when their car was unlocked and relocked in the App’s activity feed, and rate their in-car delivery.

In-car delivery is available to customers with a compatible 2015 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle with an active OnStar account, and customers with a 2015 or newer Volvo vehicle with an active Volvo On Call account. Support for even more vehicle makes and models will be added over time.

DHL Parcel and Volkswagen actually started testing car trunk delivery in Germany last September, so Amazon is not the only one enabling this delivery option.

What’s next? On-boat delivery? You’re out at sea or on a lake and run out of diapers, so instead of heading back to shore, Amazon dispatches a drone to drop a pack of Pampers on your boat deck?

Giving strangers access to the inside of my house or car is not for me (plus my trunk is cluttered with baseball equipment, blankets, folding chairs, and all sorts of crap), but apparently there’s a segment of the population that want these delivery options, so there you have it.

From a logistics perspective, this adds another layer of routing complexity. Creating optimized routes between fixed locations is complex enough, but now you have to incorporate dynamic delivery locations (car trunks) that can vary significantly depending on where you park your car each day (e.g., where you parked your car yesterday at work might not be where you parked it today if you have to park on the streets and there are no open spots nearby). This is another use case of dynamic, real-time route optimization.

A Supply Chain Operating Network for the Heavy Building Materials Industry

Last November, I attended and spoke at the Command Alkon ELEVATE 2017 conference, where I learned many things about the Heavy Building Materials (HBM) industry (such as the difference between cement and concrete). One of my key takeaways from the conference was that when it comes to electronic ordering, real-time order visibility, and the use of mobile apps and technology, the HBM industry is further down the supply chain maturity curve than other industries. I also said that Command Alkon (a Talking Logistics sponsor) had the opportunity to become a supply chain operating network for the heavy building materials industry, which would not only provide the company with new avenues for growth, but would also help the entire HBM ecosystem reach higher levels of supply chain performance.

Well, it looks like Command Alkon is starting to move forward on this opportunity. The company introduced BuildIt this week, “a new solution that allows Contractors, Haulers and Suppliers to interact and work together by streamlining their order through goods acceptance processes.” Here are some additional details from the press release:

Companies can order, receive, and account for materials being delivered to the job site – all on a centralized platform that integrates with virtually any Ticketing software. Information can be digitally shared across the entire HBM ecosystem, transforming the way that trading partners communicate with one another.

BuildIt is an electronic ticket management system that automates manual processes. This solution can eliminate the dependence on paper tickets that are often illegible and easily misplaced. It was developed from the ground up for the HBM ecosystem to address the challenges that current methods for tracking materials and truck assets create.

Eliminating paper tickets was one of the biggest opportunities for productivity and data quality improvement identified at the Leadership Roundtable session that I moderated at the conference last November, so it’s not surprising that Command Alkon focused on this opportunity first. Getting many of the industry stakeholders to move away from “the way we’ve always done it” to this new, more efficient approach is the next step in the journey.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Blackout” by Frank Turner