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Order Fulfillment in Review: April 2016

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If it doesn't feel much better in terms of temperature, know that the news for the fulfillment business in April followed suit. From the lower import volumes to concerns about global trade, there wasn't a whole lot in the headlines to feel warm about. 

If you spent the first full month of spring waking up after winter's peak period, the chances are you were too busy to catch all of the major supply chain headlines. If that's the case, our quick monthly recap is exactly what you need to catch up.

supply chain news

Order Fulfillment in Review: APRIL 2016

Here are some of the stories you might have missed last month:

  • It's not just our nerves that are impacted by congestion on US roads, and now there's data to prove it. Research conducted by ATRI - the American Transportation Research Institute - shows that excess traffic is a drag on the trucking industry as well, to the tune of $49.6 billion in 2014. This is based on additional operating costs incurred due to congestion, with analysts finding the average cost per truck at an extra $26,625 for every 150,000 miles traveled.
  • Rail freight continued to see falling volumes in April, with carload traffic down 16.1% compared to the corresponding period in 2015. Road freight also saw another month of decline, amounting to 2.1% less tonnage than the previous year. While rail remains a concern, analysts in the trucking industry believe the declines merely represent a correction of inventory levels after a period of overstocking.
  • With import volume drops at ports on both coasts, concern is rising around the sluggish nature of the recovering US economy. Cargo levels dipped at the Port of Long Beach/Los Angeles its lowest level for the past twelve months, down 35% from the same point in 2015. This was the same time as dock laborers had finally cleared the remaining cargo backlog after the strike that dragged on from 2014. Meanwhile, back east, the Port of Virginia also confirmed a 7% drop in import cargo.
  • California's Fetch Robotics introduced another step towards autonomous warehouse assistants. Appropriately named Fetch and Freight, the two robots are designed to work alongside human workers to make order picking more efficient. Freight works as a mobile base supporting up to 68 kilograms, while Fetch is the picker, with a telescoping spine, 3D depth sensor, and a grabbing arm that uses a sophisticated gripper interface.
  • Cuba is in the news a lot these days, with the potential for trade being one of the top items on the agenda. Ferry operators in the south Florida region are primarily concerned with the movement of people between the two countries if embargoes begin to lift, but cargo is also on their minds.
  • A new study sets the cost of fake goods to global brands at almost $500 billion, or around 2.5% of worldwide imports. The joint report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in the European Union says the problem is on the rise, as a similar study in 2008 set counterfeit levels at 1.9% of all global trade.