In this week’s edition, Amazon ploughs ahead, an autonomous truck gets spotted in the wild, and the old toothbrush problem rears its head. To get future editions of Freight News in Cartoons sent directly to your inbox, subscribe here.
So Business Insider recently published an article claiming that Amazon’s freight brokerage service is offering rates so low that truckers can’t make a living and as a result, that many carriers are refusing to work with Amazon and their “heavily one-sided” contracts.
In response, an Amazon spokesperson said: "This is yet another BI story attempting to use a small collection of anecdotes to create a false narrative. The anecdotes shared in the story do not accurately represent our positive partnership with our widespread carrier base made up of thousands of small to large businesses who do a great job transporting packages for our customers."
However, a survey out of FreightWaves’ Freight Intel Group “found that eight of ten carriers and freight brokers think Amazon’s entry into digital freight brokerage is ‘negative’ for their market segments.” So perhaps the evidence isn’t so anecdotal.
Unfortunately, because of Amazon’s size, not everyone has the luxury of refusing to work with them. UPS, for instance, received 397 million parcels from Amazon last year accounting for around $3.5 to $5.5 billion in revenue. On the other hand, according to estimates from eMarketer, Amazon’s grip on the e-commerce market may be slipping, from the long-rumoured 50% to closer to 38% today.
Either way, the delicate co-opetition dance continues.
Autonomous Trucks in the Wild
Volvo’s Vera is seeing its first real world action in Gothenburg, Sweden, transporting goods from a distribution center to a port terminal. The truck is autonomous, electric and connected, has no cab for a driver, and produces very little noise and zero-emissions.
In other autonomous news, Starsky Robotics is officially testing an unmanned autonomous truck on a public highway in Florida, and Apple did end up buying Drive.ai at the last minute for a reported $77 million, mostly to acquire their engineering and product design talent.
The Toothbrush Problem
The founder of Microdea used to be fond of saying that standards are a lot like toothbrushes. Everyone agrees they’re important but everyone wants to use their own. So it’s not surprising that creating widely accepted standards for blockchain remains a huge challenge in the transportation industry, even with a group like BiTA leading the charge.
In other not-so-surprising news, an Uber Freight Facility Insights Report found that “fast loading” was by far the most important carrier consideration when reviewing facilities, a survey of small carriers still using AOBRDs found that 91% plan to wait until the last minute to switch to ELDs, and railroad union leaders aren’t big fans of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR).
The 2019 State of Logistics Report from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, on the other hand, was a little more revealing with interesting thoughts on the state of the economy, regulations, business developments and technology insights. FleetOwner did a great roundup of key takeaways.
Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Microdea is a fast growing document management and automation software company serving hundreds of customers in the transportation and logistics industry, including truckload and LTL carriers, private fleets, brokers and 3PLs.