Logistics Industry Review: April 2015
It's a month named for its Fools, but April was no joke when it comes to the world of logistics and order fulfillment. If you were rushed off your feet we can sympathize, having spent the first half of the month putting together our inaugural webinar, but we still found time to gather the important headlines to bring to you in our monthly logistics review. So, without further ado, here's all the news that was fit to print in and around April's supply chain:
- After the extensive disruption to west coast operations in recent months, the last thing the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach needed was another labor dispute. That's what they got, though, with truck drivers ending the month of April with a week-long strike over their desire to unionize. Although this instance came to a close on Friday 1st May, the threat of future strikes is likely as negotiations did not advance in this case.
- Mixed news from the Cass Freight Index, which measures shipping activity across transportation modes including trucking and rail. The month of March saw a slight gain in shipping activity, but the year on year figure was down by a more significant 5.1% compared to 2014. Analysts place much of the blame at the door of the aforementioned port strike by longshoremen, which promises to cast a long shadow on the industry even after the dispute was resolved in March.
- California company Fetch Robotics revealed a pair of automated warehouse workers that it hopes will give shippers an opportunity to catch up to with Amazon and its Kiva operations robots. Appropriately named Fetch and Freight, the two are intended to work alongside human warehouse workers to speed up repetitive tasks and improve efficiency. So don't worry, SkyNet isn't here... for now [cue dramatic exit music].
- An important retail consumer study from comScore confirms that mobile is increasingly important in our purchase decisions, although desktop and laptop devices still dominate when it comes time to buy . While mobile accounts for 60% of time spent on a decision, it only manages 13% of the actual purchases, demonstrating that retailers with a marketing strategy that embraces multiple channels will fare better in today's elongated buying cycle.
- Rail loads remained flat for the year-to-date compared to 2014, although intermodal volumes posted a 1.3% increase for the first 16 weeks of the year. Transport as a whole is failing to meet the stronger growth demonstrated in 2014, with analysts disappointed in comparison to their expectations at the turn
- As if to sum up this wider decline in growth, the Institute for Supply Chain Management released figures that confirm a general malaise, as Bloomberg reported a tough time for manufacturers against a wide set of challenges.