In this week’s edition, the final-mile race heats up, electric and diesel trucks go head-to-head and executives attempt to separate fact from fiction when it comes to technology. To get future editions of Freight News in Cartoons sent directly to your inbox you can subscribe here.
The Final-Mile Dash
Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate executive willing to say it out loud, the competition to grab an ever larger slice of the growing final-mile pie is heating up.
Amazon is cutting their accessorial fees, expanding their ocean shipping capabilities, adding 10 more Boeing 767s to its Amazon Air fleet, and according to a Shipware survey from 2017, 85% of parcel shippers expect Amazon to be competing with FedEx and UPS within 2 to 5 years.
In the ‘big and bulky’ segment of the market, JB Hunt upped their presence with their $100 million dollar acquisition of Cory, while the new CMO at FedEx, Brie Carere, confirmed they too will be entering the home-delivery market for large and heavy goods as they look to find a path to greater profitability.
Meanwhile, at the North American International Auto Show the largely computer-controlled Surefly Octocopter from Workhorse was on display and autonomous home-delivery dogs were let out at CES. Yes, one of Continental’s demos involved a robot dog.
Electric and Diesel, Head-to-Head
While electric trucks continue to gain ground in urban, pickup-and-delivery settings, the debate over whether, if ever, they’ll work in over-the-road applications continues.
FedEx is continuing to expand its fleet of electric vans, Peterbilt had a medium-duty zero-emission Model 220EV on display in Las Vegas, and Kenworth and Toyota announced a partnership to build 10 fuel-cell-powered 18-wheelers with a range of 300 miles. Not to be outdone, Volvo announced an investment in Momentum Dynamics Inc., a maker of powerful wireless charging systems, which could potentially help solve the lack of infrastructure problem.
Meanwhile, a Fleet Advantage survey of fleet operators from late 2018, showed that just 4% of respondents were currently procuring electric or hydrogen fuel-cell trucks and 21% said they believe they’ll never be widely used in over-the-road applications. Why? The top two reasons were a lack of charging-station infrastructure and concerns over range and fuel economy. Plus, 86% reported consistent increases in fuel economy in diesel models over the past five years.
The Blockchain Backlash or The More Things Change
In tech news, executives in all sectors continue to attempt to separate fact from fiction and make strategic decisions about where technology fits into their companies’ futures.
A Gartner report predicts that “by 2023, 90% of blockchain-based supply chain initiatives will suffer blockchain fatigue for lack of strong use cases,” while a McKinsey article advises taking an Occam’s razor approach by applying “the technology only when it is the simplest solution available.” It goes on to state “despite billions of dollars of investment, and nearly as many headlines, evidence for a practical scalable use for blockchain is thin on the ground.”
Automation, on the other hand, is continuing full speed ahead with Walmart announcing an automated sorting system that will allow its new consolidation center to process three times more freight volume with fewer errors and Ryder revealing a new smart warehouse concept that uses “advanced automation, such as state-of-the-art robotics; autonomous vehicles and drones; sensors and automatic identification tools; and wearable technology, like smart glasses and ring scanners.”
A report on the future of automated ports stated that with “careful planning and management...operating expenses could fall by 25 to 55 percent and productivity could rise by 10 to 35 percent,” while here at Microdea we released a new user interface for our Document Management System, Synergize, that further streamlines document handling and automates more manual back-office processes. You can read more about the release in Fleet Owner or schedule a time for a walkthrough.
Steele Roddick is a Content Specialist at Microdea where he creates content that helps transportation companies drive their business forward. He’s endlessly fascinated by technology trends, chess, and discovering new places to travel with his wife.