Alibaba And Amazon Battle For 3PL Supremacy
Alibaba and Amazon are battling to control the third party logistics market by providing supply chain logistics services to outside clients.
Cainiao, the logistics division of Alibaba, is now offering end-to-end logistics services to Japanese and South Korean importers and exporters and have started an air charter service between Asia and South America. While Amazon is well on its way to becoming a global player in providing logistics services to other companies as an extension of the logistics infrastructure they created to serve their own needs, Alibaba understands they must catch up with Amazon’s growing dominance in the field to remain viable.
Cainiao aims to cover international shipping by sea and air, customs clearance, trucking, warehousing and last mile delivery. By offering an in-house turnkey service, they will reduce transit times, take control of their supply chain and reduce costs that will benefit consumers through more competitive pricing and faster delivery times.
Alibaba plans to operate about 1,300 chartered flights by the end of 2020. Amazon is offering a full range of logistics services in Europe and recently opened an air hub in Germany to support its Prime delivery service . In the U.S., Amazon offers ocean freight services for its own imports as well as other customers.
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(Photo credit: Alibaba Group)
Aircraft Fuselages Are Shipped By Rail In An Unusual Combination Of Transport Modes
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A unique combination of transport modes was captured on video in a way you wouldn’t expect when Boeing 737 MAX aircraft fuselages were filmed during transport by rail through a narrow railroad tunnel. Although the video may seem to show something that can’t possibly be right, it is all too real.
The fuselages are manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas. Transporting such large pieces of equipment presents a challenge due to height and width limits for over-the-road transport. Due to their dimensions, they must be transported by rail without the wings attached, as the fuselages alone are too long to be transported over the road from the factory in Kansas to Boeing’s assembly facility in Washington State. The fuselages are meticulously prepped for shipment on railcars to ensure sufficient clearance through tunnels.
On June 4, 2020 Spirit AeroSystems was directed by Boeing to stop production on four 737 MAX shipsets and avoid starting production on sixteen more units for delivery in 2020 due to COVID-19’s impact on air travel in an effort to reduce unnecessary production costs. Spirit’s production was subsequently lowered from 125 units to 72 units for 2020. As of September 2020, CEO Tom Gentile said Spirit expects to be back to 10 aircraft per month on the 737 in January.
That is good news for Boeing, the passenger airline industry and the air cargo industry. Of course railroad executives will be very happy to resume shipments of this special cargo. The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes.
Read more about the ripple effect that the grounding of the 737 MAX created in combination with the challenges presented by the pandemic at:
Sky High Ocean Freight Rates From Asia Attract Government Scrutiny
Ocean carriers have been skipping sailings to shore up their bottom line during the virus-induced downturn in manufacturing and consumer demand. Tactical blank sailings combined with record breaking rate spikes in the trans-Pacific trade have increased carrier profitability now that manufacturing and demand are coming back online. Decreased capacity and increased rates are helping ocean carriers recover at the expense of the global economy while suppliers struggle to meet pent up consumer demand. Government regulators have begun to exert pressure on ocean carriers to restore capacity and restrict rate increases. It has been customary to blank sailings during the Chinese Golden Week holiday, however the threat of intervention will surely impact carrier cost manipulations and capacity decisions.
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(Photo credit: OOCL)
Walmart And Amazon Drones Battle For Last-Mile Delivery Supremacy
Walmart and Amazon are engaged in a war of delivery drones. Although Amazon may be the largest e-commerce retailer, Walmart may have a structural edge enabling them to deliver groceries and household items by drone more quickly. Both players introduced short-range drones to transport small packages up to 5 pounds. According to Amazon, about 90% of products they sell weigh under 5 pounds.
Walmart claims they have a store within 10 miles of 90% of Americans. Amazon, by contrast, delivers from its fulfillment centers, usually located near major cities. That gives Walmart an edge until Amazon ramps up their rural presence.
Meanwhile, Amazon has patented a futuristic Jetson-style idea for distribution towers that look like beehives. The towers would function as fulfillment centers with landing pads for delivery drones, strategically located near high-density residential towers.
The current need for social distancing has accelerated a paradigm shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping with contact-free delivery.
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(Photo credit: Amazon, via FreightWaves, and Walmart, via FreightWaves)
The Largest Energy Project In Canadian History Requires Import Of 1 Million Tons Of Oversized Construction Equipment
Shipments of massive excavators for the $40 billion LNG Canada energy project are shipped on board roll on/roll off ships to the Port of Tacoma, Washington. The equipment is driven on and off the ships via an enormous ramp with under-deck access. After arrival in Tacoma, they are hauled to Kitimat, BC for construction of the LNG facility and a 420 mile pipeline. The removable goose-neck trailers are fitted with 7 to 9 axles because transport is restricted to 34,000 lbs per axle most of the year. In snow and freeze/thaw conditions, the trailers are upgraded to 10-12 axles to redistribute the weight of the heaviest equipment.
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(Image: Spruce Hollow Heavy Haul moves an excavator from Port of Tacoma to Kitimat, BC, on a 9-axle rig. Photo credit: Spruce Hollow Heavy Haul.)
Airlines Retrofit Passenger Aircraft To Handle Cargo
Cathay Pacific supplements their cargo capacity and cuts some of their losses related to the pandemic by removing economy seats from Boeing 777 planes to transport more medical supplies, PPE and other critical shipments. They are required to keep the front and rear seat rows in place to protect the aircraft from cargo that could shift due to turbulence. Cargo is placed in fire-retardant bags because passenger cabins aren’t equipped with fire-suppression systems. The airline follows in the footsteps of Air Canada and Lufthansa who have reconfigured some passenger planes for cargo.
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(Image Credit: Cathay Pacific)
Drone Delivery System Aims to Make Mid-Size Retail Chains Competitive With E-Commerce Giants
Deuce Drone announced a test of their last mile delivery system which is intended to make delivery directly from stores to consumers faster and more affordable. Rouses Market, which operates 64 grocery stores in the south, has partnered with Deuce Drone to test a same day delivery system by drones in order to make last mile delivery faster and less costly than vans, so they can compete with Amazon.
(Image courtesy of: Commercial Drone Professional of Deuce Drone)
Galaxy C5 Cargo Aircraft Transports Massive Military Equipment
The US Air Force uses one of the largest aircraft in the world for intercontinental transport of massive pieces of military equipment such as jet fighters, helicopters, tanks and trailers. The only aircraft that rivals the Galaxy’s airlift capacity is the Russian Antonov which is chartered out for civilian transport of oversize cargo that cannot fit on conventional freighter aircraft. Although the Antonov carries more cargo, the Galaxy has more modern avionics and aerial refueling capacity.
New Drone System Developed For Long Distance Delivery
Civil drone operators are currently restricted to line-of-sight operation of one drone at a time to avoid collisions. Satellite operator, Inmarsat Group Holdings, has partnered with Altitude Angel LTD to operate drones over long distances safely by integrating a backup satellite connection for areas with no land-based communications . If they can prove safe operation to regulators, fleets of remotely operated drones could be deployed to transport tons of goods. Read more about this development at:
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(Photo Credit: Chip Chipman/Bloomberg News)
Startup Aims To Plant 1 Billion Trees By 2028 Using Drones That Transport And Plant Seed Pods
We are losing the oldest species on earth at the rate of 7 billion trees per year. Flash Forest came up with a drone technology that can transport and plant up to 20,000 seed pods per day and access sites that human planters cannot reach. The drones transport the pods and plant them faster and at a lower cost than humans with trucks and shovels. It won’t stop deforestation but it will slow climate change and narrow the gap in the race to restore the planet’s breathing mechanism.
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(Photo credit: Flash Forest: One of Flash Forest’s prototype drones. )