Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (January 22, 2021)

We already have a guinea pig and a hamster as pets. What happens when you add a rabbit to the mix?

I don’t know, but I’m going to find out this weekend.

For years, my youngest daughter has been begging me to get her a pet rabbit (my wife was already on board). “I’m allergic” was my standard response. “They chew on power cords and furniture” was my backup.

My daughter launched a blitzkrieg earlier this month and finally broke through my defenses. We’re adopting a Dutch mix rabbit tomorrow.

I want to name him Moses, but I’m going to lose that battle too.

Truth is, I never had a chance.

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

Amazon and Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution

Why not leverage existing distribution networks to get the Covid-19 vaccine out to the population quickly? That’s what David Clark from Amazon is essentially saying in the letter he sent to President Biden earlier this week. As reported by Rebecca Klar in The Hill:

Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO of consumer business, said the company is willing to help by leveraging Amazon’s “operations, information technology, and communications capabilities” to assist Biden with his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within his first 100 days in the White House. 

“Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort,” Clark wrote. 

He also said Amazon has an agreement in place with a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to administer vaccines on-site at its facilities. 

Oh, and while I have your attention, can you also prioritize our 800,000 essential workers to get the vaccine? That was part of the letter too.

It’s no secret that the vaccine rollout here in the United States has been bumpy at best. Should the government partner with Amazon and other private entities to leverage their distribution networks and capabilities to improve and expedite the process? What are the pros and cons? Post a comment and share your thoughts.

How’s It Going Post Brexit?

“Britain’s first weeks of doing business outside of the EU have been mixed, as goods from large companies mainly sail through ports but many small businesses struggle with the new post-Brexit rules,” reports Alistair MacDonald in the Wall Street Journal. He adds that “many smaller U.K. companies that move goods to the EU via trucks that cross the channel on ships or through the Channel Tunnel say they are experiencing extra costs and big delays—and worry this represents a permanent obstacle for their exports to continental Europe.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that “British shoppers who bought items from European websites are facing post-Brexit demands of more than £100 in import duties that must be paid before parcel firms will deliver the items…Since 1 January, people buying goods from the EU – and vice versa – have faced import charges. The new rules have put thousands of specialist online businesses at risk as consumers on both sides of the Channel balk at having to pay the hefty import fees.”

In a January 2018 guest commentary titled “How Disruptive Is Global E-Commerce? More Than You Think,” Chris Jones from Descartes (a Talking Logistics sponsor) stated the following:

Global e-commerce is one of the fastest-growing industries and, until now, it has not been fully understood by governments. As governments try to close the import revenue gap, they will change how global and local e-commerce participants, trading partners and logistics services providers act.

We’re seeing what Chris wrote about play out now in e-commerce trade between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

So, how’s it going post Brexit? Things are bumpy at best.

Autonomous Trucks: Growing Investments & Partnerships

“Truck-maker Paccar Inc. will work with autonomous vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. to develop self-driving heavy-duty trucks, the latest in a growing series of deals aimed at bringing automation to the business that moves most of the freight in the U.S.,” writes Jennifer Smith in the Wall Street Journal.

In related news, Werner Enterprises announced an equity investment in TuSimple, an autonomous trucking technology company. According to the press release:

Through this relationship, Werner will bolster its commitment to its Werner EDGE technology initiative and continue improving the lives of its professional drivers, enhancing over-the-road safety measures and creating sustainable shipment efficiencies. This aligns with Werner’s recent investments in emerging and sustainable trucking innovations, including electrification and hydrogen, telematics, and the development of a new transportation management system.

TuSimple aims to scale self-operating technologies to improve safety and fuel efficiency. Through this investment, Werner demonstrates its focus on the growth and deployment of automated driving systems, the regulations required for increased safety, reduced carbon emissions and eventual industry adoption.

The goal is to have some of these shiny, new autonomous trucks on the roads in the next few years. Assuming the roads are still there and haven’t completely crumbled

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “In the Meantime” by Spacehog