Morai-Logistics-Blog-Recycling-Logistics

The slippery slope of falling oil prices

In less than two years, the price of oil has gone from over $100, to just beneath $30 a barrel. The rapid price decline is having a major impact across most North American industries in one way or another. Most often, the exact net impact is complicated to determine because the industry or business may lose out in some areas, but benefit in others. However, when it comes to the business of recycling, the downward slide of oil prices has been unambiguous. The impact has been almost entirely negative. As oil prices continue to fall, so does the profitability of most companies who offer recycling services to cities and other businesses.

Though recycling is generally agreed by most consumers to be good for the environment, the actual cost of the process is something that isn’t discussed. Some of the costs involve emissions from shipping to be processed materials to recycling centers, which use a lot of energy and water. This means that the falling price tag of oil makes it so after a certain price point, it is simply cheaper for businesses to invest in creating new plastics and materials rather than recycle old ones.

“Abundant oil is the latest headache for recyclers. New plastics are made from the by-products of oil and gas production. So as plentiful fossil fuels saturate global markets, it has become cheaper for the makers of water bottles, yogurt containers and takeout boxes to simply buy new plastics”, writes the New York Times in this article. ” This, in turn, is dragging down the price of recycled materials, straining every part of the recycling industry” it continues.

New technology and new problems for sustainability efforts

The reduced price in oil isn’t alone in negatively impacting the recycling sector. As electronic products become ever smaller and cheaper, they are also impacting recycling cost and efforts:

Electronics devices contain less and less valuable materials and precious metals, which make reduce the size of economic urban mining opportunities. In itself, this isn’t a bad trend, but it does carry negative impacts when combined with designs that make materials harder to extract

The growing popularity of online shopping is also making itself felt in terms of environmental cost. In particular, the incredible amount of cardboard needed every day to meet consumer demand, and the subsequent freight that is needed to ship and deliver it. For some context, The United States alone produced 35.4 million tons of containerboard in 2014.

It’s not all bad

Despite the increasing cost tied to recycling plastics and other oil-based items rather than making new ones, some companies are still committing to their recycling and sustainability efforts. Some big companies such as Pepsi and Procter & Gamble are buying more recyclable material to meet sustainability goals. The online and e-commerce sector is also making strides towards lessening its environmental footprint according to Dennis Colley, the president of the Fibre Box Association — the trade group for the corrugated paper, or cardboard, industry — who states that 90 percent of corrugated packaging were recycled.

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-Sports-Logistics

“Before the high-profile athletes and rabid fans arrive at a major professional sports event, superstar logisticians and planners perform their own feats of greatness to ensure the big game goes off without a hitch” -writes this InboundLogistics post.

Last night the Toronto Raptors faced off against the Cleveland Cavalier, and emerged victorious with 103-99 score. Those in attendance were treated to stylish swag, as the game was also the third annual Drake Night for the Toronto Raptors.

As of September 2013, Canadian music artist Drake (Aubrey Drake Graham) became the Toronto’s Raptors’ official “global ambassador“. His responsibilities have been to rebrand, create buzz, and even help design jerseys and merchandise. In his role as global ambassador for the team, Drake has even created a new logo and new colors for the team.

His help with branding was no small feat either, as Raptor’s brand value rose from $52 million in 2013 to an estimated $97 million as of January of this year according to Forbes.

A professional sporting event is not just about selling a game to fans, but about delivering an experience. There are many moving parts behind the scenes to ensure those attending the event enjoy as positive an experience as possible. Having clothing designed, delivered, and ready for the big game is only one area wherein logistics is important in professional sporting events.

For larger and well known international events, ensuring the logistics of an event means that careful planning is done several years before the event itself.

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for example, was announced and planned seven years prior to the event, which was a smart move as there were:

  • over 5,500 athletes and team members who attended.
  • over 350 paralympic athletes and team members who attended.
  • over 25,000 volunteers who helped out with the Olympic games.
  • over 12,000 media representatives from all over the world broadcasting the games to an expected 2.1 billion television viewers.

Transport and Sporting Events

Without athletes, you cannot have a sporting event. Without a venue, you cannot have your sporting event. Without an audience, you cannot have a sporting event. It is for these three key considerations that transport services for a sporting event is so critical.

SEL, a company specializing in sports and events logistics, writes:

“Managing the transport services for a sporting event involves not only arranging transfers for athletes and equipment, but also providing for all that is closely connected with it, from catering to the most advanced kinds of fuel. Moreover, covering world championships means coping with various countries and languages, long distances, and customs and domestic rules that differ from one nation to another”.

Fun and Games For The Next Generation of Logisticians

Like other areas of logistics, sports and event logistics are quickly growing fields. Some schools are already offering programs specializing in these fields with courses in Event Planning and Logistics, Behind the Scenes in Events, Sports and Event Marketing.

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-Holiday-Planning

We are in mid November and for many people this means that it’s the best time to start to thinking about who they’ll be giving a gift to and what that gift will be. If organized, they’ll set a budget and a timeline so they aren’t scrambling at 11 PM the night before in a dollar store for the perfect gift.

If you are working in a distribution centre however, the planning and preparation stage for your building/company would have started about four months ago back near the end of July. You would now either be in the middle or very close to peak season, meaning that your building could see an inventory increase of over 40%.

Given how close the holiday season is, there is likely not much that can be done if your distribution centre is only just now scrambling to put together peak plans for your building. Rather than this be a list of tips for planning a successful peak, consider this a quick checklist to determine exactly how rocky a peak your supply chain may have. As the saying goes,

“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” – Robert Burns .

Filling personnel gaps

Does your distribution centre have the right people, in the right places, in the right numbers? Being in the peak season means that overall volume of your buildings will increase. The amount of items received and shipped will increase. The amount of items being stored and necessary space will increase. Quality control in your building’s processes will need to be increased. Even available security and janitorial personnel will need to increase in order to service the increase in personnel in other areas of the building.

What are your building’s plan for staffing needs? This is a question that should’ve been addressed early but now is a good time to review!

  • How many temps have been hired, and what sort of tasks are they handling?
  • Is there an incentive plan that pays bonuses for workers who excel during peak? If so, how has it impacted worker engagement thus far?
  • Is your building’s staffing plan calculated to meet your service goals (orders/boxes per hour per employee, lines picked per hour per picker, etc)?. How closely are those goals being hit?

Winter is coming…

The holidays not only bring cheer and a spike in products traveling through supply chains, but also bad weather (if you are in North America). Even if you are located in an area where snow won’t affect your distribution centre directly, it doesn’t mean that your vendors, carriers, and customers will be safe from it.

  • Does your building have a well-documented emergency plan in case of power outages?
  • Does your staff understand the expedited transportation options available such as time-definite ocean transportation, air-sea, sea-air, and team-driver trucking service?
  • Has your building tested Plan B carriers to see if there are any issues in utilizing them if your preferred carriers become indisposed during peak time?

Getting those evaluation sheets ready

No matter how well prepared and laid-out the plans for your distribution centre are, chances are there will be some area in which those plans fall short. It could be due to vendor mismanagement of inventory leading to out-of-stock of a hot item. Or underestimating the amount of returns and not having the staff post-holiday. Regardless of the shortfalls, it is important to have a system in place to track your performance and use labor statistics, order data, customer satisfaction scores, and inventory reporting to identify areas where you both shined and struck out.

This information will help you during future peak planning. Having an outside consultant come in and review the data with you post-peak. This help you think through necessary changes for next year’s peak season that you can begin working on as soon as the peak season has wrapped up.

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-Nearshoring-vs-Reshoring

In the past, we’ve written about the benefits of near-shoring over off-shoring. However, something we haven’t discussed in much detail is re-shoring.

A recent article on EBN discussed the findings of Cushman & Wakefield’s 2015-2017 North American Industrial Forecast. In the article, writer Jennifer Baljko highlights the differences between the praise reshoring has gotten in the media versus Cushman & Wakefield’s findings and in doing so, asks an important practical question of manufacturing and logistics companies: “Where will you put your factory?”.

Before going any further, it’s important to properly define the terms re-shoring and near-shoring as they are sometimes used interchangeably despite them having very different meanings.

According to a Forbes article on the topic,

Re-shoring refers to manufacturing that was previous done outside of America and has been moved back to America. Near-shoring refers to manufacturing work that has returned closer to America in countries such as Mexico.

Cushman & Wakefield’s findings, as Baljko points out, makes fining quality and affordable space for factories and warehouses one of the biggest challenges for companies who decide to move back home.
“A lack of quality space remains one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers in the U.S. Emerging technological advances, such as improved measuring/process control, advanced digital technologies and sustainable manufacturing, have made many older facilities functionally obsolete, opening the door for more speculative construction to take place within the next few years,” the report noted.

How Does Near-shoring compare?

Although Cushman & Wakefield’s study advised caution for companies considering re-shoring their manufacturing, their findings did indicate that near-shoring to Mexico might be a more prudent long-term strategy.

“Major drivers of industrial real estate activity continue to reflect the prominent role of distribution and logistics sectors. They include large renovations, like Kuehne+Nagel’s 341,000 sf at O’Donnell Logistics Park, or expansions, like Walmart’s 132,000 sf at Parque Industrial El Convento” they write.

The reason for this is that is because of the competitive land prices the country offers. “Average industrial land costs range from $638.08 psf to $231.85 psf for private industrial parks sites and raw land respectively” they write in their report.

Manufacotring in Mexico also has other advantages that we’ve written about elsewhere, but according to Cushman & Wakefield’s, “Generally, Mexico is increasingly developing a pool of high-skilled workers and rapidly integrating its manufacturing industries with global production lines. Also, in addition to a successful macroeconomic reform agenda, an ambitious investment program by the federal government is expected to bring further improvements to Mexico’s transport and logistics infrastructure” they highlight in their findings. “Given such factors, Mexico’s industrial real estate market is forecast to continue growing and benefiting from increased demand from a diversified range of industries” they conclude.

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-Climate-Change

With January in full swing and the weather continuing to plummet, it is important to take a moment and discuss a topic that doesn’t receive as much mention as the more popular topics currently trending. This topic is the impact climate change is having on supply chain logistics.

According to The Associated Press’s study released in 2014 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the increasing prevalence of severe weather will have negative effects on infrastructure, agriculture and the overall well-being of humans. As climate extremes continue affecting different parts of world, businesses and industries that are reliant on logistics networks are also at considerable risk.

A chilling look at a negative trend

A 2011 study released by EWENT (Extreme Weather impacts on European Networks of Transport) looked a number of detailed case studies and metadata to determine the costs and consequences of extreme weather on European freight and logistics industries and supply chains. The conclusion of the study was disheartening, as stated by the researchers:

The above attitudes indicate that business people in transport, logistics and infrastructure provision and management sectors did not have a good grasp of linkages between the probability of extreme weather and the risk of company damage

Although those surveyed in the study claimed they were prepared and had measures in place to account for weather extremes, they relied too heavily on government assistance claim the researchers,

Therefore, they could not carry out the risk tolerance appraisal and take decisions as to which preventive and risk mitigation strategies to employ. In the absence of understanding of their own risk tolerance threshold, they removed extreme weather hazards from strategic decision-agenda

… which as the study demonstrates, was to their own financial detriment. It isn’t all doom and gloom however.

New field of study and Weather-proofing

‘Adaptive logistics’ has seen major growth since it was proposed in 2010 by Alan McKinnon and Andre Kreie of the UK based Logistics Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University. Their paper on the need for this to become a field for the logistics industry outlined how, at the time, not enough research existed on the impact climate change was having on supply chains. The term itself, ‘adaptive logistics’, is defined in the paper as a field of study that will analyze how logistics will respond to environmental change, and then “this response can either be direct where logistics systems must be modified to minimise adverse climate impacts or indirect, where climatic change alters the demand for logistical services and systems must be reconfigured accordingly”.

Source: Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
Source: Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK

Some companies have also begun taking a more pro-active approach to reducing the potential risks of extreme weather affecting operations or revenue.

An excellent article by Inbound Logistics’s Gary Hanifan summarizes and analyzes the findings of Reducing Risk and Driving Business Value, a 2012 survey conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Accenture and gives advice as to how to raise supplier awareness about the risks climate change is having on their business. Some of the more interesting points quoted in the article were the following:

  • A current or future risk related to climate change was identified by 70 percent of the 2,500 companies responding to the survey
  • More than half of the supply chain risks due to drought and precipitation extremes are already affecting respondents’ operations, or are expected to have an effect within the next five years
  • Other concerns include the potential for reducing or disrupting production capacity, reduced demand for goods, and even the inability to do business
  • Supplier awareness is an even greater concern. Nearly one in five respondents indicate that their suppliers are not aware of the water risks affecting operations. Another 38 percent say their suppliers are aware of, but not actively engaged in, addressing the challenge

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!

At the beginning of the month, Apple had its annual keynote for the next generation of iPhones and included the official announcement of the latest Apple product: the Apple Watch.

Now, the Apple Watch is by no means innovative as a concept. Since the first digital watch, the Pulsar, was manufactured in 1972 the concept of placing advanced technology in watches was really just a matter of time, and progress in nanotechnology.

Avi Greengart, a consumer device analyst from Current Analysis, claimed 2013 as the Year of the Smartwatch. The reason being that components have gotten small and cheap enough to produce for products to be made for mass distribution at a relatively affordable price point. This year also marked the point where many consumers owned smartphones that were compatible with a wearable device.

Source: Apple
Source: Apple

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcased a large number of new smartwatches. Later in the year even more were showcased at Google I/O, introducing the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live. Earlier this month one of the most recent releases, the Moto 360 was announced.

These most recent iterations of smartwatches are only one aspect of wearable technology. Many other devices exist today that consumers are very interested in playing with, such as Google Glass and Pivothead. And interesting new technology devices such as Thalmic Labs’ Myo, a gesture control armband that you can calibrate to do many things with.

The Demand for Wearable Tech on a Steady Rise

GlobalWebIndex released some interesting statistics on consumer trends for wearable devices. The most intereting of which are follows:

  • 71% of 16- to 24-year-olds want to own some form of wearable technology (i.e. Smart watch, smart band, or Google Glass)
  • Worldwide, 64% of internet users have worn a piece of wearable tech already or are “keen to do so in the future.”
  • Between the genders, men sit at 69%, while women are marginally lower at just over half (56%) in terms of wantring to own a wearable tech device

What Does this Mean for Logistics?

Despite the slow growth, this demand in wearable technology means more business and demand for logistics services. It will be interesting to see how much wearable technology will affect the overall growth in logistics in the coming years.

Tech analysts from Canalys have predicted that smart bracelets, such as Intel’s Mica smart bracelet for example, which monitors health and sleep patterns as well as providing purchasing capabilities, are going to be a big hit. Smart band sales are predicted to increase 129% in sales next year. More than 42 million of these smart band devices are predicted to be sold globally.

Tech-based start-ups are now seeing real value in investing into projects that are tangible as opposed to web- or app- related services. An exciting trend for both consumers and those responsible for moving the goods.

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!

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about statistics that we’ve found that suggest that Mexico is a prime nearshoring choice for North America. We found this to be really interesting and decided to flesh it out further so we’ve decided to make this our feature inforgaphic for this month!

As you may know, China and Mexico have been battling to be the prime hub spot for logistics operations in North America for the last couple of years. China has their already established work force and prime manufacturing facilities. Mexico on the other hand is starting to develop their own logistics hub in the Golden Triangle and is starting to become an attractive, and very real, consideration due to cost and time savings.

Benefits of Nearshoring – Part 1

Benefits of Nearshoring - Part 1

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!

Social-media-for-public-relations1We’ve reached a point in society that people’s parents and even in some cases their grandparents are getting social media savvy! It is no surprise then, that these social media developments is something that businesses can no longer ignore; logistics and supply chain industry or otherwise.

This week’s blog post will focus on two case studies that show how both social media application and mobile technology is affecting the logistics and supply chain industry in an interesting way.

Twitter is Making Truckers Healthier

Fronetics released a post this month on how an interesting development on Twitter has trucking companies leveraging social media to both save money and take care of their staff. According to the article, both obesity and sleep disorders (i.e. sleep apnea) are the primary health risks for truckers and end up costing their employers $190.2 billion in medical spending. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, obese truckers had an annual average total health care cost of $1,944, compared with $1,755 for overweight truckers and $1,131 for normal-weight drivers.

So how does social media come into play? Well, a 42 year old trucker with over 20 years of experience decided to use Twitter as a venue to track his progress to adopt a healthier lifestyle on his journey from being the typical statistic of an unhealthy overweight trucker to a healthier, and happier, trucker.

He started an account as @urbanhauler and, using the hashtag #fittrucker, captured the attention of over 1500 fellow truckers (based on his follower list alone). This spurred Jarred Martin of Speedy Transport to secure a new job opportunity while continuing his quest to change the habits of truckers everywhere.

Google’s Uber Taxi App Expands with UberRush

Source: Uber
Source: Uber
There is a new face in the traditional parcel deliver services, and logistics companies are taking notes. Uber, a San Francisco based venture focusing on on-demand transportation services best known for their vehicle-for-hire or ridesharing app by the same name has expanded in NYC by launching Rush. Rush, or Uber Rush, extends their ridesharing model to a package delivery service. Uber Rush uses bike and on-foot messengers to get your belongings from origin to destination.

It works by having users request a messenger at your location via the Uber Rush app. A chosen delivery person will then arrive to collect your delivery instructions (via bike or foot), then take your package to your destination. Both the sender and recipient can track the location of the package via the app. How’s that for taking logistics services straight to the masses?

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-Canada-Day

The Morai Logistics Team wishes you a Happy Canada Day! To celebrate, here’s a link to the (albeit older) resource from our very own Government of Canada’s State Logistics – The Canadian Report:

Source: Industry Canada
Source: Industry Canada

While you’re already reading our 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!

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
There is a lot of talk these past couple of months on the implications of 3D printing and how it will change the face of the logistics and supply chain industry. This month we thought we would highlight the industry and shed some light into its development.

Widely practical, 3D printing is used primarily for prototyping and, more recently, distributed manufacturing. It is commonly seen in the following industries: architecture, construction, industrial design, automotive, aerospace, various engineering and medical industries, and fashion just to name a few.

What is 3D Printing, Exactly?

By definition, 3D printing is the process of making three-dimensional solid objects using a digital model. Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing uses a process called the additive process and carries out the process under computer control.

In the additive process, layers of material are laid down in different shapes. This is in contrast to subtractive processes in manufacturing, which is what is traditionally used to produce goods and involves the removal of material by various methods (i.e. cutting, drilling, carving, etc.).

The technology and concept of 3D printing is not a new idea. In fact, 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s. The first working 3D printer was created by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Crop. in 1984. It wasn’t until the early 2010s that companies started producing 3D printers for commercial distribution and use. This is partly due to a Moore’s Law type of progression; the development of the technology used in 3D printing has drastically impacted the price of 3D printers enough to be able to release it to consumer production.

How Will This Affect the Supply Chain?

Cerasis has released an excellent post regarding the impact of 3D printing particularly in inventory and logistics. The most interesting concept is that with the advent of 3D printers, the need to store finished products is nonexistent. There is no more need to store component parts before compiling the final product anymore; it essentially gets rid of the need to shelve or store products in warehouses anymore. This essentially collapses the supply chain to its most basic processes, which creates new efficiencies along the supply chain.

The 3D printing process can drastically alter the global supply chain and re-assemble it into a new local system. It can bypass the constraints of the traditional supply chain model: the need for low cost, high-volume assembly workers, real estate for stages of manufacturing and warehousing components, etc. Thus, the efficiencies of 3D printing impact the entire supply chain, from the cost to distribution and assembly to improving assembly cycle times.

Forbes released a post recently that suggests 3D printers essentially turn consumer products into digital content. The printers can already produce fairly detailed solid objects, though at this stage quite expensively. But according to Moore’s Law, and indeed looking at the history of 3D printing, prices have dropped significantly since the 1980s and will do so in the future. This could impact hardware stores and parts distribution services the same way e-books have impacted book stores.

Too Good to be True?

Tech Republic recently released a post suggesting that 3D printers are a potential double-edged sword and made some interesting points regarding what we should watch out for throughout the development of 3D printing as a process to be used by the masses.

The process of 3D printing itself, while efficient in many ways, are also not the most environmentally friendly. To start, they are energy hogs, 3D printers consume 50-100 times more electrical energy than injection molding and has a reliance on plastics. They are also known to pose health risks, especially with 3D printers used in the home. The emission from desktop 3D printers release unhealthy air emissions. There are also numerous issues on the corporate and legal side, involving potential national security risks, ethics and regulation, and corporate responsibility of products from 3D printed technology. So while 3D printing is something to look forward to, it is also something we should watch carefully.

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!