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A look at where the technology meant to revolutionize small package delivery is in 2017

In 2013, the undisputed king of North American logistics, Jeff Bezos, revealed to CBS’ 60 minutes the future of small package logistics. Bezos showed off two drones which he said will be able to deliver packages anywhere within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment centre in half an hour.

News about the reveal was effervescent to put it lightly. Matt Hickey of Forbes called Bezos a pioneer and that “the future, it seems, is going to be a great place to live.” Not to be outdone, analyst for Forrester Research, Suchirita Mulpuru, told the New York Times, “the drones could be a game changer—20 years from now.” Surely, others would take a cue from Amazon’s example.

The fledgling technology of Amazon Prime Air, though exciting, was still very much finding its feet. In 2013 the company acknowledged that they were in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration and US lawmakers on how the service should be regulated. “I don’t want anybody to think this is just around the corner. This is years of additional work from this point,” said Bezos four years ago.

So where is the technology now? It has been years since the announcement, what new developments have we made in 2017? Who else has risen to Amazon’s challenge?

Canada

90% of Canada’s population lives within 100 miles of the American border. The further north one goes in Canada, the more remote it gets. The challenge to logistics is one of access. There are few good roads in Canada’s north and flying goods into remote communities on the few available airstrips is uneconomical.

A company aptly named Drone Delivery Canada received regulatory approval in October for testing their drone delivery service to a remote community in the country’s north.

Moose Cree First Nation is an indigenous community near Timmins Ontario, just over 700 km north of Toronto. The logistical challenges of this community have doubled the cost of consumer goods. A quick google image search of northern grocery shelves shows the horror that is shopping for groceries in the north.

Food Price in Northern Canada:

  • Tropicana orange juice – $26.29
  • Pack of seedless grapes – $28.19
  • Milk – $10.75
  • Pack of strawberries – $14.39
  • Frozen Pizza – $27.99
  • Broccoli- $7.43
  • Margarine- $11.29

The company’s CEO hopes to solve the logistical challenge of the Canadian north; hoping to build what he calls “a railway in the sky.”

United States

United Parcel Service, or UPS, tested a literal new platform for the launching of drones last February in San Francisco.

The company used their iconic brown trucks as a road-bound aircraft carrier for drones. How does it work? A roughly minute and a half long video from UPS shows the delivery driver loading the drone from the inside of the truck, opening a door in the roof of the vehicle revealing an autonomous drone on a sort of tiny helipad, which then flies off under GPS control to its delivery location. The same GPS control then docks the drone back on the truck, after it is finished making the delivery. The company touts the time-saving potential of this technology as it allows delivery personnel to deliver more than one package at once.

2017 was an interesting year for drone delivery. These were just two examples of companies who are rising to the challenge Bezos presented to the world four years ago. What 2018 holds for is an uncharted horizon of wonder.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

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With technology driving industries into the Cloud, implementing and utilizing Software-as-a-Service, or SAAS, systems could help supply chains improve the customer experience.

The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to connect and enable our world to create efficient and easier modes of communication, operations and production. Technological advancements have shown improvements for many industries. Supply chain and logistics companies included.

Research claims that “SAAS cloud computing business information systems help enterprises develop.” This prompts us to ask exactly how. This article unveils how Software-as-a-Service systems function as a benefit to the supply chain industry and what this means moving forward.

SAAS Defined

Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) is an innovative tier of cloud computing. It is projected to provide lucrative benefits for the supply chain industry. In a report written by C3 Solutions, they use this term interchangeably with ‘cloud-based system’. Businesses and customers are able to access services over a network in a simplified and easy process.

As outlined in a SWOT analysis on SAAS, the system’s ability to efficiently integrate and be easily scalable are notable strengths. In addition, a major plus for businesses who adopt SAAS is it’s “less up front cost”. Senior Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at C3 Solutions, Gregory Braun, also states that cloud based platforms “keep up with changes and advances in the technologies”. Therefore, this system has the capability to help businesses streamline their supply chain management processes.

The Benefits of SAAS for Supply Chain Management

SAAS systems provide businesses with the ability to offer more efficient services to customers by helping them streamline their data. Similar to the research found by C3 Solutions, Salesforce outlines four main benefits that this cloud-based option provides all industries. SAAS is:

  • Easy to learn, generating high adoption rates
  • Offers Low initial costs
  • Upgrade capabilities that removes unnecessary hassle for adding additional software
  • Helps your business “scale indefinitely to meet customer demand.”

While this all sounds promising, how can supply chain industries utilize this? Research has found that current supply chain management systems are more effective when combined with IoT technology. Specifically in relation to supply chains, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) can be optimized using cloud based software. This is primarily to “improve the collection, sharing and exchange of information.”

Therefore, SAAS systems could create efficient processes for transporting goods by offering a low cost opportunity to integrate and scale shipments.

Proof in Numbers

Although the above benefits speak to the advantages software-as-a-service (SAAS) systems provide businesses, steady market growth shows proof in numbers. According to Digital Journal, Canada joins many global leaders in contributing revenue to the SAAS market. It’s estimated that by 2020, the Global SAAS market will increase by 21%, representing $117 billion USD in annual growth.

Both Small, medium and large enterprises are adopting this software across a variety of industries including IT, Manufacturing and Healthcare. The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian stock market is seeing a surge this year. They reported technology stocks increasing by 8.5%. These figures represent the steady progression of innovative technologies and their contributions to global economies.

Improving the Customer Relationship

In addition to being an efficient tool to help businesses optimize their operations, SAAS systems also help improve the customer relationship. Writer, Michael Krigsman, discusses how leading enterprise software, Oracle, foresees a future in the clouds. He states that as companies move toward implementing cloud software. This leads to a focus on responsiveness must be taken to meet customer satisfaction.

The Balance asks “are you getting your customers what they want, when they want it – and spending as little money as possible accomplishing that?” The answer to this could possibly be the implementation of IoT technolgoies like as SAAS. Not only does this system improve the efficiencies of data collection and transfer, it can also save your business significant costs.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

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In this final part, we look into the role unions and the need for human judgement play in keeping trains from being universally automated.

In last week’s blog post, we asked why there’s little media excitement around automated trains. We’ll be answering that question today, but first, a quick recap.

In the previous post, we mentioned that the technology to automate trains systems and networks has existed for decades. The technology even allows for different levels of automation which is already in use to varying degrees around the world.

It’s curious then that there isn’t the same zeal to make fully automated trains the standard rather than the exception around the world. As mentioned before, many companies are pushing hard for robot cars, trucks and ships, so why are trains different?

There are two answers to this question—strong unions and the need for human judgement.

No One Wants to Lose Their Job

In an online article by Wired.com, writer Damon Lavrinc asks Dr David Clarke, director of the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research Center, what’s holding automated trains back. Clark replies that train operators make it hard politically:

Organized labor doesn’t like the idea of losing the jobs of its members to driverless trains.There has been push back with the allegation of safety issues. Politically, that makes it hard to implement.

Reddit user dunnkw, who says he’s a BNSF Railway Locomotive Engineer for the last 10 years, echoes this issue in a Reddit thread on the same topic.

The first answer to your question is that the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (Engineers Union) is the oldest in the country at 152 years and we have fought tooth and nail to keep our jobs.

This sentiment from the union goes beyond simple preservation, however. The strongest case in favour of making train automation universal has to do with safety concerns. Basically, no current AI can keep your typical commercial train safe.

The Human Touch

There’s a reason why existing automated trains are confined to isolated areas and why they don’t intersect with major lines. These systems generally have little to no obstacle detection. It’s why they’re closed off. Open lines need people at the controls to make the necessary snap-decisions when it comes to unforeseeable circumstances. Even then, it takes years of specialized training to recognize various problems that can occur and the best solutions.

This is an issue recognized by the public. Fear of automated cars and ships is a problem affecting other driverless technology as well.

Some companies are trying to fix these issues. For example, tech conglomerate giant Siemens issued a press release detailing ways to improve driverless train technology. A robust safety outline is included in the release.

Some policy highlights are:

  • The trains are equipped with surveillance cameras throughout. The video images are transmitted to the control centre by means of a radio LAN. This enables incidents to be registered directly by the control center and countermeasures to be initiated.
  • If a fire should break out in the car, the installed smoke detector and temperature sensors become active. They detect hazards as they arise. The sensors trigger an alarm in the control centre and the train is stopped automatically at the next station, where personnel can investigate the cause of the fire alarm.
  • A public-address system in the passenger area serves for the announcement of operational and traffic information. Besides advising passengers in an emergency, it is used to supply passengers with general information.

There’s a long road ahead before robots can transport us across land, sea and air without issues. Although trains are further advanced and seemingly a more obvious choice than other transportation systems, an old adage rings true—”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

morai-blog-image-interview-team-true-patriot-love-invictus-games

Toronto hosts 2017’s Invictus Games, an international adaptive multi-sport event created by Prince Harry where wounded, injured, or sick armed services personnel and associated Veterans take part in various sports.

The name Invictus was coined based on its Latin origins meaning: unconquered or undefeated. Prince Harry describes the games as a “a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families.” The motivation being a display of the very best of human spirit.

This year could not have been better timing for addressing issues of Canadian Veterans and their families with the events being hosted in Toronto. One of the main reasons we supported Team True Patriot Love earlier this summer is because we truly believe in the organization they chose to support: True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL).

True Patriot Love Foundation Leverages Invictus as a Platform to Bring Awareness to the Current Canadian Veteran Situation

TPL is an organization that works closely with the Canadian Armed Forces, Department of Veteran Affairs and local grassroots organizations to clearly identify the most urgent needs of Canadian military families on a national scale, while avoiding duplication of efforts between all organizations.

A multinational symposium prior to the Games was organized by TPL, which brought together competitors and their families from the 17 nations represented at the Invictus Games, international leaders and senior representatives from the charitable, research, and medical sectors to discuss the most pressing concerns within the military community.

The Morai Logistics team decided to feature this week’s post to outlining the difficulty Veterans face when transitioning into civilian life and how the average Canadian can help support those men and women returning from military service.

An Interview with Team True Patriot Love on What Canadians Can Do to Help Veterans in Need

Sitting with three members of Team True Patriot Love, the team that raced to bring awareness to TPL and to contribute their donated earnings to support their cause.

In June of this year, Team True Patriot Love successfully completed the Race Across America (RAAM) 2017, coming in second place with a time of 5 days, 17 hours and 55 minutes, setting a new Canadian record. The team also were successful in raising over $130,000 for Canadian Veterans in support of the True Patriot Love Foundation.

We go over the three biggest questions stemming from the call to bring Canadians up to speed on the current situation for Canadian Veterans returning from service, what their needs are, and what can be done as a Canadian citizen wanting to do more and support their servicemen and women.

Reid McGregor, from Team True Patriot Love, answers on behalf of him, Chris Slawson, and Bryan Murphy.

Shaun Francis, the executive chair of True Patriot Love Foundation, encourages ordinary Canadians to get to know Veterans and their families, hinting that civilian and governmental support for the current cohort of Canadian Veterans was a “generational commitment.” What are your thoughts on this?

The point about getting to know Veterans and helping build back their social network and supporting them in their civilian life is extremely important. Canada has done an incredible job of creating a melting pot of culture and diversity that is inclusive and celebrated from coast-to-coast, but we have failed to fully support those that voluntarily elect to join the military and serve our country. Furthermore, it is clear that we continue to fall short of providing a stable network for them to return to.

I have struggled to find an outlet or events where I would get to interact with more Veterans. My grandfather was a military Veteran, but no one in my circle of friends born in the early 80s chose the military as a career. In choosing TPL as the charity to support in our Race Across America, our cycling team wanted to change this. We needed to find a way to open our network not only to meet Veterans but theirs as well, and create a new environment where we could help support them, but also build new friendships. We were introduced to Glen Villa, a 31-year-old Veteran at the True Patriot Love Toronto Tribute Dinner in 2016.

Glen agreed to join our team in the race and as part of our crew shared valuable leadership, motivation, and technical skills that had a direct impact on our success in setting a new Canadian 8-man record. Glen shared many stories about how the close community of the military is so vastly different than what’s waiting after returning from service I was glad we had the honour to work with Glen and also build a friendship. Glen is not an anomaly and their needs to be more services to support people like Glen. More information, more ways to honour and more direct involvement needs to be addressed otherwise for those with less and less connections to the military, we risk losing the link between military and community.

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Team TPL Members Attend the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto
How can the “Average Canadian” better support Veterans or get more informed on the issue?

Get involved. The difficulty is that when you are not part of a (figuratively speaking) “military family”, it’s hard to find ways to be a part of it. Whether it be through community programs or within corporate organizations, you have to put yourself out there. Once you do though, it opens up a different and unique part of society and one that should be an essential part of being Canadian.

As Canadians we need to understand that our Veterans deserve every opportunity as civilians and should be supported in returning to civilian life and create opportunities for them to succeed. As a Canadian, we owe it to them. I have no doubt that events like the Invictus Games will show society how tough these people really are and that although they may face physical and mental challenges in their life outside of the military, the skills that they exude vastly surpass any of these.

What sort of support structures do you feel the Canadian Government needs to put in place?

There needs to be a more accessible medium to interact with Veterans. It has been a personal gain for me to meet someone like Glen and I know the more focus we put on celebrating the men and women who serve our country the more the community will build. Events like the Invictus Games not only shine a spotlight on our military but also celebrates them through a different lens. It celebrates their abilities and their drive, and exposes regular Canadians to the struggles that these heroes face in daily life. Watching them put that aside to compete was inspirational.

Remembrance Day certainly brings the military into the spotlight but it is once a year and although incredibly important and patriotic, it does little to address the next wave of Veterans. These are not our grandparents anymore, but our colleagues, associates and our neighbours. Creating a unique environment where we can interact with our Veterans would be essential.

Sports is an easy avenue to start with. The US created the Warrior Games which brings together wounded service men and women from air force, navy and marines to compete. This could have profound national impact and increase community involvement. If we can also find ways to include military Veterans in our daily activities I would expect more support to build. Maybe we create a “Marathon of Sport” similar to Motionball where we can interact with Veterans in a more fun and social manner. Any event where civilians have an opportunity to interact with Veterans will build a foundation and support.

About Morai Logistics and Team True Patriot Love

Morai Logistics Inc. is a 3rd party logistics provider with an operating agency agreement representing Mode Transportation. They are a logistics team based in the Greater Toronto Area and do business throughout North America, specializing in cross-border logistics, especially Mexico.

They were the presenting sponsor to Team True Patriot Love, the only eight rider Canadian Cyclist Team that participated in the Race Across America (RAAM) for Canadian Veterans supporting True Patriot Love Foundation.

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Talk of automation is sweeping the transportation industry, but there’s barely a whisper when it comes to automated trains or self-driving trains.

The conversation around automation and A.I is nothing new. Since 2010, it seems like every industry headline has to do with a newly tested application for these technologies. This isn’t surprising. The technology is indeed revolutionary and if recent advancements are any indication, very close to becoming the new standard. Industry experts are predicting that in three short years, both automated cars and automated ships may be a reality.

However, trains, another essential mode of transportation, seems to generate little news on the automation front.

This may seem strange on the surface, trains run on a track, after all, meaning they have only two directions of movement. Conversely, both cars and ships have eight directions of movement. Their onboard A.I would also need to worry about the local geography, weather conditions, other cars or ships, etc. Trains seem like the first and most obvious choice for transport automation.

The reason why there isn’t of a push for more fully autonomous trains boils down to two issues: unionization and the importance of snap-judgements. Before we can deep- dive into those issues, it’s important we look at the background of the technology as it relates to trains.

Train Automation: A Short History

Believe it or not, the technology to automate trains already exists. It has for decades, between 20 to 30 years according to David B. Clarke, director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee.

Vice journalist Carl Franzen, in his investigative piece for Motherboard, looked at the questions of “why we don’t have driverless trains yet”. According to the article, they already exist, we just don’t hear about them. The first completely automated subway went into service in New York in 1961. Canada wasn’t far behind as it tested a crewless freight train system shortly after according to an official report.

Automated Train Systems are More Common Than You Think

Since those early attempts at automating trains, the technology evolved and spread around the world. Franzen, quoting International Association of Public Transport (UITP), an advocacy group that promotes public transit, writes:

48 fully automated public metro systems can be found across 32 countries […] That number doesn’t include other private light rain systems which number in the dozens

Train network automation has been around for so long and is so prevalent, that the UITP actually has Five Grades of Automation (GoA) for trains:

  1. GoA 0 is on-sight train operation, similar to a tram running in street traffic.
  2. GoA 1 is manual train operation where a train driver controls starting and stopping, operation of doors and handling of emergencies or sudden diversions.
  3. GoA 2 is semi-automatic train operation (STO) where starting and stopping is automated, but a driver operates the doors, drives the train if needed and handles emergencies. Many ATO systems are GoA 2.
  4. GoA 3 is driverless train operation (DTO) where starting and stopping are automated but a train attendant operates the doors and drives the train in case of emergencies.
  5. GoA 4 is unattended train operation (UTO) where starting and stopping, operation of doors and handling of emergencies are fully automated without any on-train staff.

As you can see, the technology is further along than where it is with cars and boats. While automating those two transportation methods is still several years away, trains have enjoyed a nearly 50-year head start. Why then isn’t there more investment in fully automating all train lines?

The answer, as mentioned in the introduction, has to do with unionization and quick decision-making. Come back next week when we go over why these two issues are such a barrier to future train automation efforts.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Morai-Logistics-Blog-automation-scare

Will Robots be Friend or Foe to Today’s Workers? Many publications condemn how automation will affect workers, but recent studies show it to be a benefit.

Twenty years ago, the big scare for many workers was that their job would move overseas. There were several stories during the 1990s and early 2000s of companies moving their operations to places like India and China. A combination of new IT technology and data technology allowed businesses to seek further efficiencies in labour costs abroad. While these actions were beneficial for those businesses, it cost many workers their jobs.

Offshoring still greatly affects industries such as manufacturing and bookkeeping. But, the rising wages in formerly off-shoring havens (China and India) has started to curb the trend. Growing political pressure and security concerns are also leading to a rise in re-shoring and near-shoring.

The scare of waking up one day and discovering your employer has moved overseas is no longer as acute for many North American workers. However, that doesn’t mean their employment is secured thanks to automation.

How Will the ‘Robot Apocalypse’ Affect Workers?

Automation has only been in warehouses for a few years and is still in the prototype phase for several industries, like shipping & transportation. However, that hasn’t stopped some publications from calling it a ‘robot apocalypse’ for workers.

For example:

These publications are not wrong or misleading. Many industries will have to change fundamentally. This also means several jobs will either change drastically or be eliminated.

Automation Can Mean a New Beginning for Many Workers

Automation isn’t a losing zero-sum game for North American workers. For example, those on the warehouse floor have a new friend. Robots are being designed to work with staff, not replace them. These ‘collaborative robots’ are being developed to help people work more productively, efficiently and most importantly, safely.

In the retail world, an industry greatly affected by automation, new opportunities are appearing for workers thanks to e-commerce.

For example, Wall Street Journal writer Greg Ip writes in his article:

The brick-and-mortar retail swoon has been accompanied by a less headline-grabbing e-commerce boom that has created more jobs in the U.S. than traditional stores have cut. Those jobs, in turn, pay better, because its workers are so much more productive […] Throughout history, automation commonly creates more, and better-paying, jobs than it destroys. The reason: Companies don’t use automation simply to produce the same thing more cheaply. Instead, they find ways to offer entirely new, improved products. As customers flock to these new offerings, companies have to hire more people

The fear of losing one’s job because of outside factors is an old one for many people. Whether it be because of downsizing, outsourcing or automation, it can negatively impact a person’s life all the same. The total net gain or loss of automation is impossible to predict at this early stage, but the opportunities the technology presents for worker and consumer alike are exciting.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Globalization continues to develop and refine many industries. It shapes the standards and best practices for many businesses. Supply chain and shipping, having so many moving parts, is affected by globalization more so than many.

Getting goods from A to B is a complex process, especially when the two locations don’t share a border. Globalization has made such journeys much more common. Whereas before countries and companies were limited to their immediate neighbours for trading partners, modern shipping allows them to take on a wider perspective.

The last 10 years has brought new technology to the world of shipping. It’s become much safer with improved safety standards and more efficient tools. However, while the current state of shipping is to be celebrated, new threats are on the horizon. If left unchecked, they may take a heavy toll on businesses and negatively impact entire supply chains.

A recent report was published by the Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS), an international insurer and asset manager. AGCS’s fifth annual Safety & Shipping Review 2017 highlighted several important trends concerning the state of global shipping.

  • The last decade has seen a 50% reduction in large shipping losses.
  • There were 85 total shipping losses reported in 2016. That’s 16% less than the previous year.
  • The number of shipping casualties declined year-over-year around 4%.

Today we will be focusing our ebook on an analysis of this report and what it’s suggesting as today’s shipping standard based on the review on important trends in global shipping.

Today’s Shipping Landscape

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That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Morai-Logistics-Blog-IATA

With the implementation of the new IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Program, the relationship between freight forwarder and airline is transforming.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the air cargo industry accounts for over 35% of global trade. Aviation makes the transportation of pharmaceuticals, live animals, electronic devices, and express delivery services possible across the globe.

The role of IATA has been of great importance to ensure the security, profitability and sustainability of the supply chain. However, as global shipping demands and needs of the industry accelerate, so too does the need for change between cargo and airline.

Aviation Pros announced on August 15th, 2017, that “the new IATA FIATA Air Cargo Program has been launched in Canada”. This improved program will meet industry needs in addition to transitioning the relationship between freight forwarders and airlines.

TA FIATA Air Cargo Program

Canada remains a strong leader in the import and export of goods, and even more so when it comes to air cargo transport. To support efficiency and production, IATA aims to:

  • Develop global standards and tools
  • Offer financial services and industry solutions
  • Drive transformation projects
  • Create partnerships
  • Run campaigns, advocacy and outreach activities

In collaboration with the International Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Association (FIATA), IATA has decided to reengineer the way shippers interact with airlines.

In the past freight forwarders acted as ‘selling agents’ who provided opportunity to airlines, however, as the needs of the industry increased we now see a shift. The Air Cargo Program has been restructured and improved to consider the freight forwarder as a customer of the airlines, a movement that will better allocate responsibilities. There are four key benefits outlined by IATA as a result of this newly improved program, however, one in particular aligns with the global phenomenon of ecommerce. The IATA states:

Working together and establishing joint IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Program increases the potential to achieve key industry goals and common industry initiatives, include e-cargo priorities

We see now more than ever that the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and transportation is becoming necessary to move productivity and sustainability forward. The 2017 IATA Cargo Strategy explains the growing need for the air cargo industry to improve efficiency. For instance, moving from paper bill to electronic airway bills will help improve quality of service and reduce errors. Progressive changes, fostered by the new Air Cargo Program, is a representation of Canada adopting a modern approach to global exchange.

Modernization of the Air Cargo Industry

On August 16th, 2017, Morai Logistics announced that the launch of the first full-automated Robo-boat will set sail by 2020. We see modernization taking many routes, and with the air cargo industry we can only imagine the heights the industry will go. E-freight is a great example of the move forward with technology. Writer, Shreya Bhattacharya, states that an ‘e-freight route network’ initiative will not only simplify processes, but will offer transparency following the reduction of delays and inaccuracies.

IATA outlines 10 industry priorities they believe will help move the industry forward. Digitization is included and described as “a key enabler for the development of new innovative services and solutions.” The motivation to modernize the Air Cargo Program is evidence that the industry is looking long term to identify and ensure a smooth and profitable future.

The safe and efficient transport of goods across the globe is facilitated by trusted airlines and freight forwarders. The New IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Program is a global transition to modernizing the way we fly. The benefits are guaranteed to ensure productivity and sustainability and the satisfaction of freight forwarder, airlines and customers.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Morai-Logistics-Blog-robo-boat

Two Norwegian companies are working together to build zero-emission, completely unmanned ships

Several companies have been very public about their race to introduce fully-automated cars to the marketplace by 2020. Did you know that two Norwegian companies have teamed up to do the same but with a fully-automated boat?

A Costly Start but Promising Future

The Yara Birkeland will be a short-range, fully electric coastal container ship. It will begin its career modestly as a “feeder” cargo ship, ferrying containers of fertilizer to and from larger ships.

It’s co-developers, Kongsberg Gruppen and Yara International, plan for the Birkeland to start operations by 2018 with a human crew aboard. Over the next two years, more of the ships’ functions will move away from human operation until its running remotely by 2020.

“At first, a single container will be used as a manned bridge on board,” Kongsberg’s chief executive Geir Haoy told the Wall Street Journal. “Then the bridge will be moved to shore and become a remote-operation centre. The ship will eventually run fully on its own, under supervision from shore, in 2020.”

The technology isn’t cheap though. The price tag for the vessel sits at $25 million, almost three times the cost of standard container ships of similar size. The cost has to do with the ship’s enhanced capabilities. It’ll be able to handle things like docking and navigation on its own (something regular container ships don’t do). Given the specialized systems onboard, the cost of on-site repairs will also be pricey further driving up the cost.

Despite the high initial investment, both companies claim that the benefits are worth it. The vessel will:

  • Eliminate 40,000 diesel trucks trips annually
  • Significantly reduce harmful carbon emissions
  • Improve the safety of local roads
  • Save up to 90% of its cost by what it reduces in crew member and fuel spending

Autonomous Vessels are the Future

The push towards autonomous sea faring vehicles isn’t being driven by Norwegian companies alone. An article in Arstechnica referencing the Wall Street Journal interview points out that Rolls-Royce Holding PLC has similar plans. Rolls Royce plans to launch robot ships by 2020, but its fleet may include tugboats, cargo ships and ferries.

SpaceX piloted a program to use uncrewed drone ships. However, their interest was in having the ship do the dangerous task of rocket landing and retrieval.

Kongsberg itself has been active with its investments in autonomous technology with its partnership with Automated Ships Ltd (ASL). They worked together in the past to develop a prototype unmanned utility ship and are now working with Bourbon Offshore to construct a robot oil rig support ship.

Autonomous vehicles are the future. Whether it be through land, air or sea, both people and cargo will soon be transported safely and efficiently to their destinations. While there are still concerns over the legal, moral and economic consequences of such technology, its benefits for supply chains and especially for the environment are too important to halt.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

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E-commerce giants are turning to brick-and-mortar stores to supplement their continued growth trajectories. Could this mean the e-commerce market is too saturated?

To say that online shopping and e-commerce has boomed in the last decade would be a gross understatement. In 2014, retail e-commerce sales worldwide were 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars. That number rose by 954 billion as of this year and is estimated to hit nearly 4 trillion by 2020. However, despite the impressive numbers, there seems to be a shift in strategy amongst the titans of the booming online retailer industry.

A few weeks ago, Reuters reported that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba had announced plans to move into the physical realm of brick-and-mortar stores. The move is a strange one for the company given that until now, its made $392 billion through digital sales alone.

Alibaba’s American counterpart, Amazon, has made similar announcements. Its recent purchase of Whole Foods and unveiling of an automated physical store late last year indicates the company is already on a similar trajectory.

The question to ask is why is this trend happening. Reporter Robyn Mak, who broke the Alibaba story, suggests that its because the retail e-commerce market is reaching its limits for the industry titans.

Alibaba’s New Strategy—Invest in Old Models

According to the Reuter’s article, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, has outlined the following plan for the company:

  • The company will upgrade existing physical shops in partnership with established retailers.
  • The company will also build its own stores from the ground up.
  • Continued support for “Hema”, Alibaba’s own supermarket chain where can customers buy and have groceries delivered. Some stores even allow customers to choose fresh produce and have cooked in-store.
  • Explore a similar Hema strategies for clothing.

Hema has been especially successful for Alibaba so it makes sense for the company to increase investment. As Robyn Mak stated:

The attraction for existing retailers is a chance to boost their notoriously low margins by tapping into Alibaba’s technology and platforms to manage inventory, supply chain, and logistics. Stores can also benefit from using the tech giant’s algorithms to analyse shopping habits and by moving to cashless checkouts, powered by Alibaba’s payments affiliate […] The e-commerce group boasts that sales per unit area at Hema are up to five times higher than a traditional supermarket

e-Commerce Around the World

The potential windfall profits that could be made through e-commerce has led to many new online businesses. In fact, there was an estimated 12 to 25 million online stores worldwide according to a 2014 study.

Most of that money trades hands in North America, followed by Europe and then China.

The world of ecommerce is dynamic and has opportunities for innovative new start-ups. At this point, Amazon and Alibaba might be too big to grow further.

Currently, 85% of China’s retail spending happens in brick-and-mortar stores. So while Alibaba is starting to stagnate in its online sales, it can continue its expansion into physical markets.
As mentioned earlier, Amazon has already started on this path. They invested $13.7 billion to acquire and rebrand the Whole Foods Market chain.

Balancing the Pace of Technology and Consumer Demand

As more people go online to do their shopping, the e-commerce market will continue to grow. Alibaba and Amazon are in the process of developing developing new strategies. But because of the demand in ecommerce, new avenues need to be explored for the industry titans. This won’t mean either company will give up any ground online. Instead, each has its own plan to expand past the digital store.

If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? If you’re interested in what we do as a 3rd party logistics provider, don’t hesitate to check out our services (as expressed above, we are very pro finding you the lowest total cost!). We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.