Morai-Logistics-Blog-wind-power-shipping

On Tuesday, Denmark’s Maersk Tankers announced that it will begin testing the use of special sails, developed by Norsepower, on one of it’s oil tankers. If the technology proves promising, the company could go onto to add them to a further four dozen ships, bringing back wind power to shipping.

It isn’t just any old sails that the company will be testing. These sails are special “rotor-sails”, which measure nearly 100 feet tall and look like giant rotating cylinders.

This is the latest attempt by the shipping industry to reduce its reliance on fuel and create a sustainable alternative. What makes Maersk’s test different is that the 245—meter tanker will be the biggest object to-date moved with wind power.

Future Cost of Fuel Driving Innovation and Revisiting Wind Power

For the last few years, shipping companies have been trying to find ways to cut marine fuel use. This is because as of 2020, new pollution laws will take effect which will require the use of more expensive, lower sulfate fuel for shippers.

Cargill Inc. for example, is exploring the possibility of using a giant kite made of special fibers to tow a vessel with wind power. Solar powered sails are another avenue of renewable energy being looked into by several different companies to combine both wind and solar energy.

Technology Details

The basis for Maersk’s innovative technology isn’t new. The sails are an updated version of the rotor created by German engineer Anton Flettner, almost a hundred years ago. At the time, they were too heavy to be effective. Thankfully, these new sails are made from lightweight carbon-composite materials making them much more cost-effective.

This article by the Financial Times, quotes Norsepower’s CEO Tumoas Riski about how the sails work:

They harness the wind by using the Magnus effect, the physical force that makes a tennis ball swerve when hit with topspin. A motor sets the cylinders spinning and when wind blows, the airflow speeds up on one side of the sail and slows down on the opposite to create a pressure difference that generates lift, propelling the vessel through the water.

The sails have already been tested and installed on a Dutch shipping ferry in 2014. Bore, the company operating the ferry, reported that the results exceeded expectations with up to 6% fuel saved when there’s good wind.

What to Expect in the Future

The final decision as to whether Maesk Tankers will roll out the wind powered tankers won’t be made until 2019.

However, the company’s is very optimistic about how technology will cut fuel costs. About $2.1 billion U.S is spent annually on marine fuel. Maesk expects that price could be cut by 10% with the new sails.

Maesk is also hedging it’s bet on the sails by investing in other sustainable alternatives. This includes special paints that go on the hull of a vessel that reduces drag by resisting microorganism and ale colonization. And, specialized delivery drones to replace barges to deliver ship supplies.

It’s both strange and heartening to see wind powered propulsion make a return to shipping after its over 100-year absence. Modern innovations technological advancements have made Maesk’s sails, and similar projects possible sustainable solutions to an industry that needs them.

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-drone-vs-robot

The direction the big logistics companies are moving towards for their R&D is split between drone delivery and autonomous technology investments. We explore how each are developing in the industry.

Earlier this week, FedEx revealed its interest in using autonomous vehicles to make deliveries. FedEx’s chief information officer Rob Carter, says the company is considering using small robot vehicles that could drive around neighbourhoods and make deliveries on their own. The company has partnered with Peloton Technology to achieve this goal, firmly believing this path will be the future of package delivery.

Competitors such as UPS and Amazon disagree. They have spent the last few years developing their own aerial delivery drone programs. Their aim is to have packages reach their destination through the air, instead of on the road.

Flying to New Heights

The idea of delivery drones was initially met with disbelief when Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon initially unveiled the technology back in 2013. After a long approval process, Amazon finally received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct trial runs in early 2015. The approval was likely a response to the Chinese online giant Alibaba, a major competitor, conducting its own drone delivery tests.

This event led the way for other companies to develop their own drone delivery programs, and experts weighing in on the potential benefits.

“Allowing drones to be flown for business purposes in the U.S. may produce $100 million or more in economic benefits” says Bloomberg writer Alan Levin, reporting on a FAA document. Enhanced delivery speed and eco-friendliness are other benefits expected from these programs.

Critics have been vocal about cons as well. Namely, in the areas of privacy, potential for theft of packages and the drone itself, and public safety.

Amazon conducted its first delivery through its drone program late last year. Whether the pros or cons win out is now a matter of waiting and seeing.

Driving Towards New Delivery Solutions

FedEx isn’t the first big business to invest in autonomous technology, far from it. Intel for example, is expected to have $1 billion invested in this field by 2020. Uber has jumped onboard with its acquirement of Otto, the company responsible for the successful testing of self-driving tracker trailers.

However, Carter is promising that FedEx’s program will have several distinct advantages over drones. For starters, the vans are expected to be more energy efficient than their aerial counterparts. The maximum cargo delivery limit is also greater. Finally, ground vehicles won’t have to content with the FAA for regulations and flight path approval for urban areas.

Peloton Technology’s current semi-autonomous technology isn’t far off from FedEx’s goal. It can electronically link trucks into small caravan groups called platoons. The lead truck can then control the brakes and gas of the convoy, lowering wind resistance and saving fuel.

Logistics is a multi-trillion-dollar global industry. FedEx is betting of self-driving robots as the future of cargo delivery. Given the company’s size, that’s 220 countries whose way of receiving parcels and movement of large fleets would be affected. Time will tell if FedEx’s robots will be able to streamline, automate and accelerate the supply-chain industry.

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-eld-mandate-intermodal-logistics

Canada’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate is set to affect intermodal transportation favourably in rates, fuel prices and capacity. This is based on the Intermodal Competitive Index (ICI) of the freight transportation forecasting firm FTR.

Earlier this week, the condition of intermodal versus truck was described as ‘moderately favourable’ according to freight transportation forecasting firm FTR. Their Intermodal Competitive Index (ICI) showed a slight increase in November to a level of 5.0.

The ICI looks compares North American intermodal sector and over-the-road trucking. A negative number indicates conditions are unfavourable. The higher the positive number, the better the favourability for the intermodal sector. Factors affecting the level are intermodal rates, fuel prices and truck capacity.

Despite the current state, FTR predicts that the ICI may deteriorate soon because of normal seasonal factors. Thankfully, the ICI is anticipated to start rising again until the end of the year. The rise will be due to the truck Electronic Logging Device (ELD) federal mandate.

“While the new administration’s more restrained philosophy with regard to regulation may have some eventual downstream effects on the trucking environment, we believe that the ELD regulation, which has already been formalized into law, will not be recalled…[]..While the extent and precise timing of the capacity effects of the ELD mandate are open to debate, there seems to be little doubt that its capacity effects will result in some tightening of truck availability which should work to the benefit of intermodal” said Larry Gross, Partner at FTR and principal author of its Intermodal Update, in a statement.

Canada Soon to Implement ELD Mandate

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is expected to have a final rule on its own ELD mandate early this year. A Canadian compliance date will likely occur for early next year.

The mandate received a lot of enthusiasm from the CCMTA as discussions about implementing a ELD mandate in Canada has been ongoing for nearly ten years.

“Though safety and consistency with U.S. guidelines were primary factors behind the change, Canada’s ELD mandate was also motivated by financial considerations as its trucking industry hopes to compete with U.S. carriers who have seen the economic benefit of using electronic logging devices” writes Keep Truckin, a blog about fleet management.

“Canadian fleets who implement and train drivers on ELDs well before the 2018 deadline will be more competitive with U.S. fleets already reaping the benefits, including fewer hours-of-service and form and manner violations and improved Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores.”

Although the Canadian ELD mandate will be a year behind it’s American counterpart, the decision is the right step to improve competitiveness. A high volume of trade is conducted between Canada and the U.S. In fact, the two countries trade around trade $662 billion worth of goods and services with one another annually.

What the ELD Mandate Will Mean for American and Canadian Fleets

Having ELDs be the standard will benefit fleets in a few different ways. For one, the amount of paperwork will be greatly reduced. Secondly, dispatchers will be kept up-to-date with the condition of the drivers, helping them with planning better loads. Thirdly, it will eliminate paper logs and with that, the headache that comes with maintaining it.

The American ELD mandate is only 11 months away, but is already predicted to have a positive impact on the intermodal sector. Canada will follow suit next year. Fleets in both countries will benefit in regards to increased safety, planning and efficiency. The North American Intermodal sector has a lot to look forward this year and the next.

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-supermarket-amazon-go

In last week’s post, we covered the reveal of Amazon Go.

This week, we’ll cover the steps Amazon’s competitors have taken to stay competitive. We will also be going into why with just a teaser video, Amazon may have already won the war for the future of retail.

Before we begin, we need to do a recap about what we know so far.

What the Reveal Video Tells Us

Amazon Go will work like this:

  • Amazon Go aims to give customers a ‘grab and go’ feeling similar to how its digital shop operates.
  • You enter the store by waving your smart phone across a scanner.
  • You will need an Amazon account (likely Amazon Prime) to use the store.
  • If a customer changes their mind about an item, he/she just puts it back.
  • The store will be using AI and facial recognition technology similar to that found in a self-driving car.
  • Seattle will be the first test city which makes sense given the city is also home to Amazon’s head office.

The video is meant to cement the idea of a friction-less retail experience. Simply go in, get what you want, then leave. The video makes the idea believable, influences buyer expectation, and affects the future of the industry.

Let’s look at the strategies Amazon’s competitor’s have been testing to expand their market share.

Competitor Response

Big retail and food companies are using a number of different strategies to stay competitive. Companies such as RetailNext, Euclid, Nomi and others are part of a trend that provides brick-and-mortar stores with analytics that looks similar to website traffic reports. The aggregate data is used to project purchasing trends, decide how to build a layout, and produce more detailed reports for shareholders.

Food heavyweights such as Tyson Foods Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Hershey are taking a page from UberEATS with their strategy. They are trying to get into the home delivery and meal kit market as Wall Street Journal correspondent Kelsey Gee explains. They are working with online couriers to challenge companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh that have carved out a $1.5billion market delivering parcels of fresh ingredients.

Wal-Mart is also making an aggressive push into online groceries. Wal-Mart Pickup and Fuel lets customers order their items online and pick them up when they are ready.

Future of Retail—Has Amazon Already Won?

While the strategies used by Amazon’s competitors are innovative, they haven’t had the same media buzz. With just a video, Amazon has created an expectation amongst consumers. They will expect greater convenience in the way the video promised. Companies using alternative models will need to work harder to convince their consumers that their way is superior.

However, being king of retail may not be Amazon’s true goal. Amazon Go is more likely to be a proof-of-concept and a retail model it can sell to other businesses as this video speculates.

Conclusion

The reveal of Amazon Go is recent, but it’s already beginning to disrupt the retail industry. Time will tell which new retail method becomes the standard, but one thing is certain—retail will be undergoing a drastic evolution very soon.

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-supermarket-amazon-go

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon.com Inc. announced it will be opening a grocery store. This is an unexpected move for the e-commerce giant.

Amazon Go is the name of the name program. The reveal video promises “no lines, no checkouts, no registers”. It’s about to enter the pilot phase, being limited to a single store. The only customers to test it out will be employees.

So why the hype?

More Than Meets the Eye

It might seem strange that the announcement of physical store is having such an effect on news outlets. After all, e-commerce sales continue to grow each year. The sale of groceries isn’t new for the company as its AmazonFresh program made its debut back in 2007. This being Amazon however, means the project is more nuanced then it first appear.

A 2014 patent filed by Amazon gives more insight into how the store could work. Basically it involves a whole lot of cameras, sensors and tracking. Natt Garun, from the Verge, comments:

The patent describes a system where cameras could capture you as you walk into the store, then identify who you are based on an ID card that’s associated with your Amazon client

There are cameras lined within the store as well. They’d determine if multiples of the same items are taken. So if you took several bags of chips to get to one in the back and you put the rest back, then the cameras would recognize the action and keep you from being charged.

Sensors in the shelves are another way for the store to know what you have taken. They will check to see if the weight has changed from its original state.

Why Invest in a Grocery Store?

There are some unique ways Amazon Go stands to benefit the company.

Amazon Go, even if it were expanded far and wide, would generate a shadow of the sales of the parent company. E-commerce will have the advantage over physical stores because it isn’t limited by the geography of its customers.

What Amazon Go represents for the company, is valuable information on its customer’s buying habits. Customers would be enticed by the promise of a hassle-free grocery experience, and the cameras in the store would collect information about them. Nat Garun continues:

The patent says this is used to identify the shopper’s hand to see whether they actually pick up anything off a shelf, but combine that with the fact that Amazon knows what you’re buying and who you are down to your skin colour and this is pretty next-level market data

Information gathered this way could be used to strengthen its other programs, AmazonFresh in particular. The company would be able to see what works to move a product and what doesn’t. Having physical stores would also allow Amazon to broaden its influence in the retail market.

Conclusion

Time will tell how much of a disruption Amazon Go will be on the industry. The promise of “no lines, no checkouts, no registers” sounds appealing but customers may not like being always watched.

The store will also be a model for other industries to consider. In the same way the reveal of Amazon Prime Air made waves in 2013, the same will be true for Amazon Go.

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-driverless-car-manufacturing-supply-chain

The long road to commercially available autonomous cars is almost at an end. A number of things will be changing when that happens. Chief among the changes is the way automotive manufacturers invest and sell their products.

What separates an autonomous car from a regular car is the onboard computer. Behind that technology are companies such as Intel, Qualcomm Inc. And Nvidia Corp. which provides the chips necessary for the computing power. Cars will need to be turned into essentially mobile data centers meaning that the competition for the future of autonomous cars isn’t only among car manufactures. It’ll also be with and between the world’s largest biggest tech companies.

There’s Big Business in Little Parts

As we approach the final lap on the course towards autonomous cars, automotive manufacturers have already started to change their sale tactics. Where manufacturers used to talk about horsepower, they’ve now started talking about processing power.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the total value of automotive supplier deals in 2015 and 2016 were $74.4 billion. For some context, each of those years far exceeded the $17.7 billion annual average of the previous 10 years.
“The number of transactions valued at $500 million or more also skyrocket to 18 last year, triple the level of the previous decade” writes Elisabeth Behrmann, Polina Noskova, and Aaron Kirchfeld from the same Bloomberg article. “There have been 11 such deals so far this year.”

An example is Intel. Its automotive business is currently involved in 30 vehicle programs on the road. By 2020, the company is set to increase that number to 49 with orders worth $1 billion according to the Wall Street Journal.

Many of the deals are still done with makers of powertrain and chassis components. However, electronics-related acquisitions are growing the fastest. Some estimates have the cost of electronics in car manufacturing growing to 50% by 2030, up from around 30% in 2015. A portion of resources have also gone into securing the proper know-how to ensure that their cars have the necessary sensors, cameras, radar, and computing power necessary to safety assess traffic conditions and see their environment as a driver would.

Phone to Pocket PC, Car to Mobile Entertainment Hub

One of the biggest innovations over the last two decades has been in finding new uses for old products. TVs grew ‘smart’, watches and shoes graduated into personal trainers, and cell phones evolved into pocket PCs. Today’s new technology is sold with the promises of greater efficiency and consolidation. Autonomous cars will be no different.

For as useful as cars are in our everyday lives, they spend close to 95% of the time unused. This means there is a big opportunity for the manufacturers of autonomous cars. Captive consumers will be surrounded by the technology for an average of at least five hours a week. The challenge will not just be how to commercially manufacture autonomous cars, but also in building a platform that connects software developers with the passengers.

As Nokia and Blackberry demonstrated in the past, consumers need more than just an effective product. They also need their devices to consolidate their consumption of media.

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.

It was just under three years ago that Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for “Amazon Prime Air,” a drone-based delivery system that would’ve been a game-changer for delivery services. At the time, there were a number of news outlets and commentators divided on the topic, with some being excited at the implication of drones that could theoretically reach you anywhere, while others had safety and privacy concerns. 

This week we thought we’d focus on the impact drones are having on the future of supply chains.

The Fight For Flight: Commercial Drones May Soon Deliver Your Next Order Online

fight-for-flight

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.

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