Some of the recent developments within the supply chain arena – new contracts, exciting announcements, research findings and interesting solutions

Last mile experience
news aXPO Logistics, a leading global provider of transport and logistics solutions has signed an agreement with MediaMarkt Iberia to provide last mile deliveries of large products in Spain, where MediaMarkt is the leader in the distribution of consumer electronics and related services.

Sixty depots in XPO’s Spanish transport network facilitate the home delivery of heavy or bulky products ordered from MediaMarkt online. The comprehensive service includes the placement and installation of new products inside the home, as well as the removal and recycling of old products. XPO began operating this specialised solution for MediaMarkt during Spain’s pandemic lockdown and is using its last mile technology to ensure safe, fast and reliable service.

For the first time in Spain, XPO has introduced digital last mile capabilities that make it easy for consumers to access information about their orders. Notifications are transmitted on WhatsApp, SMS or via automated telephone calls. Consumers can track their orders in real time, modify the date, time or place of a delivery electronically, and see the license plate number of the delivery vehicle and the driver’s details in advance.


Driving digital transformation
news bNess, a global provider of digital transformation solutions, has formed a partnership with the business transformation consultancy firm, Harpyja. Together, the companies will use their combined expertise in business processes and software engineering, as well as a common framework rooted in iterative design thinking, to develop and deliver innovative products, services and processes in the industrial and supply chain domains.

“Ness brings a wealth of experience in software product engineering that comes from being a global leader in its field for 20 years,” said Mark Barratt, Chief Executive Officer, Harpyja. “Its end-to-end experience creating strategic proprietary software products and solutions for leading organizations in energy, telematics, 2D/3D digital mapping, supply chain and manufacturing will help us further support our customers with their strategic vision and roadmap.”

“Partnering with Harpyja allows us to draw on their decades of strategic, transformational and operational experience across many different verticals in both the private and public sectors,” added Pete Rogers, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Western Europe, Ness. “Both organizations share a relentless vision for innovation, whether that is by helping develop growth or by working side by side with customers to implement technology in a systematic way.”

3D benefits
Markforged, creator of the Digital Forge, the world’s largest metal and carbon fibre industrial 3D printing platform, has announced the findings of its inaugural annual ‘COVID-19 Impact on Supply Chains: Global Additive Manufacturing Industry Report.’ In the report, Markforged details how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted manufacturers worldwide, and how 3D printing has helped them to maintain business continuity and grow amid global disruption.

Key findings included: Manufacturers with an industrial 3D printer saved time and money during the pandemic; manufacturers that use 3D printing have stayed agile and operational during the pandemic—and found ways to give back; and the pandemic may be a tipping point in manufacturing technology adoption.

Commenting on the findings, Shai Terem, CEO and President, Markforged noted: “Our research confirms that even during an incredibly uncertain year for manufacturers, those that adopted the Digital Forge have persevered.”

Smooth operators
Pro Carrier, the cross-border delivery business of DG International, is partnering with Hurricane Commerce to ensure its retail customers’ parcels flow smoothly through customs.

The company has integrated Hurricane’s data enhancement Zephyr API and its Aura API, which supports on duty and tax calculation, prohibited and restricted goods screening and denied party screening.

“The onset of Brexit and other major regulatory changes like the US STOP Act and ICS2 are presenting some serious challenges for international retailers,” said Gary Tervit, Pro Carrier’s Managing Director. “By working with partners like Hurricane we can give our customers total peace of mind on key areas such as product descriptions, HS6 codes, calculating the correct duties and taxes and ensuring you are not sending prohibited or restricted goods into countries or exporting items to people on denied party lists

Investment in the future
news cJ.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., one of the largest supply chain solutions providers in North America, and the University of Arkansas have announced a new $2.25 million collaboration with the Sam M. Walton College of Business that will increase awareness of inclusion and diversity in transportation and logistics and explore new, sustainable solutions to address current and potential industry challenges.

In 2020, the Walton College’s supply chain undergraduate program was ranked the best in North America by Gartner. J.B. Hunt and the Walton College are constantly working together to enhance supply chain efficiency and prepare future industry leaders.

To support the new collaboration, J.B. Hunt will provide an incremental gift of $1.5 million to the University of Arkansas and reallocate $750,000 from the J.B. Hunt Innovation Center of Excellence, an ongoing effort between the two to improve supply chain management efficiency through technology.


First office in Europe
Airspace Technologies, Inc. (Airspace) has opened its first European office, with the launch of Airspace B.V. From the headquarters, located at Schiphol-Rijk, the Netherlands, which opened in June 2020, Airspace will be expanding its team across the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the UK, in line with its rapid growth plans to fulfil customer demand.

Airspace’s technology is transforming and modernizing the logistics industry. Its proprietary software uses machine learning to identify the fastest and lowest risk path out of millions of possibilities. The technology proactively ensures that any potential delays are avoided and guarantees the customer real-time, end-to-end visibility. While officials anticipate significant problems at the borders due to Brexit, Airspace’s technology will greatly reduce the impact of the logistics issues for the customer and allow vital products and services to still be delivered on time.

The new European operation will be managed by Marcel Andriessen, who has successfully led logistics companies specialising in worldwide time-critical services over the last 20 years. Andriessen was Managing Director at time:matters for ten years and was responsible for the success of their European business and the expansion into the US. Andriessen will lead the Airspace BV organisation as Managing Director.

First wave of shipments
news dFedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. and the world’s largest express transportation company, revealed in December that operations are in motion to transport its first shipments of Covid-19 vaccines.

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, FedEx Express will begin transport of the vaccine using its FedEx Priority Overnight® service supported by FedEx Priority Alert® advanced monitoring. After months of preparation and close planning with Pfizer, other healthcare companies, and federal and state officials, the first Covid-19 vaccines will move to dosing centers in the United States. Vaccine distribution will be balanced among major cargo carriers, and FedEx is working closely with healthcare customers to prepare for additional vaccine shipments and transportation of critical vaccine-related supplies.

“This is among the most important work in the history of our company, and we’re honored to be a part of the effort to help end this pandemic,” said Raj Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer, FedEx Corp. “I am immensely proud of our dedicated team members who continue to go above and beyond to help ensure the safe movement of these critical Covid-19 vaccines, especially during our busiest holiday shipping season to date. This is who we are and what we do at FedEx.”

“Time-definite express transportation of critical shipments is exactly what our FedEx Express network was built to do when it launched in 1973,” said Richard W. Smith, regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support, FedEx Express. “Almost five decades later, we are proving true to our founding mission by delivering critical Covid-19 vaccines.”

Sourcing automation solution
News aKeelvar has launched its new AI-powered ocean freight sourcing automation solution. This latest automation offering helps procurement teams offload work while remaining agile and responsive to dynamic changes experienced by global supply chains.

Keelvar’s new automation product provides an intelligent sourcing software bot specifically designed for ocean logistics spend and leverages Keelvar’s Sourcing Optimizer platform to improve sourcing decisions. The sourcing bot aims to vastly boost efficiency and quality for both buyers and carriers in handling many of the detailed, repetitive tasks associated with smaller bidding events that arise frequently and often unpredictably for companies shipping goods globally.

Speaking on the launch of their new ocean freight automation solution, Founder and CEO of Keelvar, Alan Holland said: “Agility in responding to supply chain disruptions, as we’ve seen in 2020, is crucial to success. Sourcing bots are ready 24/7 to source alternative supply lines when needed. This frees up personnel to build trust and relationships in strategic longer-term negotiations. Sourcing Automation can also help find more efficient and more environmentally-friendly alternatives that lead to win-win outcomes.”


Streamlined documents
News bNiceLabel, a leading global developer of label design software and label management systems, has launched a new version of its label management solutions portfolio: version, 2019.3. The new software update will enable organisations to use just a single platform for designing and printing their labels and supply chain documents (something many struggled with before), thereby saving them time and costs and streamlining their whole production process.

The NiceLabel software previously offered out-of-the-box label design, allowing business users to quickly and easily design and print labels. The new version builds on this capability, enabling users, especially those working in factories or warehouses, to seamlessly design and print related supply chain documents, including delivery notes, pick lists, packing slips and invoices, from a single platform.

The 2019.3 release of the NiceLabel software also features a connector to cloud-based software from Workday, as well as enhancements to NiceLabel’s SAP advanced business application programming (ABAP) package and a web-based manager for the NiceLabel integration system that allows users to centrally manage all integrations.

In parallel with the 2019.3 launch, NiceLabel is also introducing a brand-new edition of Label Cloud.

Sensing future issues
Supply chain and logistics have seen massive disruptions as a result of Covid-19, creating new challenges for retail and manufacturing operations worldwide. In the new report ‘Sensing for Modern Logistics,’ Lux Research identifies how sensors can be used to improve and modernize logistics across various industries to shore up global supply chain infrastructures.

According to Lux, there are four critical points in the logistics process – point of origin, warehousing, transit, and destination – each with a unique set of challenges that impact the efficiency of supply chains, sometimes even leading to complete breakdowns.

Fortunately, sensors can alert companies to problems and help them address these issues, sometimes even before they become a problem. They can be used to monitor environmental conditions, prevent misplacement, identify damages, avoid accidents, ensure compliance, track location, reveal real-time conditions, and more.

Global supply chain journey
Kinaxis Inc. has renewed a contract with Casio Computer Co., Ltd. to help manage the company’s major products including timepieces, electronic dictionaries and calculators. Casio has been using the Kinaxis RapidResponse platform and concurrent planning technique since 2003, to connect its global supply chain. Casio leverages the power of RapidResponse and a suite of applications including master production scheduling, inventory management and capacity planning.

With Kinaxis, Casio has end-to-end visibility of its supply chain, and the ability to instantly and continuously balance all aspects of the demand and supply plans, taking into consideration material restrictions, production capacity and market volatility. Especially important amid the current global pandemic, RapidResponse provides the ability to run multiple simulations and collaborate in real-time giving the agility and flexibility needed to react to market volatility and changes in demand.

Changing demands
News cWith the pandemic upending holiday trends, DS Smith has released a new survey that shows retailers and supply chains need to be prepared for a rush of online shopping and high consumer demand for effective packaging. The research shows most Americans plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online, and consumers are looking for fast, free deliveries and sustainable packaging options.

“The rapid growth of e-commerce that has occurred during the pandemic, combined with the busy holiday shopping season, is putting unparalleled pressure on the behind-the-scenes logistics operations. Poorly designed packaging that doesn’t perform in this rigorous supply chain can create additional issues, like shipping delays or gifts arriving damaged,” said Mark Ushpol, managing director of packaging at DS Smith.





Digital logistics
News dLoadsmart, a leading digital freight technology company, has successfully completed its Series C fundraising. The $90 million round was led by BlackRock, Inc.’s managed funds and included prominent strategic investors from the transportation space such as TFI International Inc., a North American leader in the transportation and logistics industry, and Maersk, the world’s leading ocean carrier and a Loadsmart investor since Series A. The deal was co-led by Chromo Invest, with participation from Perry Capital, founded by Richard C. Perry; and Bramalea Partners, recently founded by Andrew Boyd, former head of global equity capital markets at Fidelity Investments. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as Loadsmart’s exclusive placement agent. Paul Hastings served as legal adviser.

The proceeds of the Series C round will allow Loadsmart to better serve shippers through doubling down on the tools to deliver excellent operational performance, as well as an expansion of value-added services like mode optimization, price transparency and data insights on supply chain optimization opportunities.

2025 ambitions
News eBrambles, the global supply-chain solutions company operating through the CHEP brand, is embarking on a new five-year sustainability plan. Leveraging its circular business model, Brambles aims to transform how life’s essentials are delivered to people by pioneering regenerative supply chains for its customers.

According to Dr. JJ Freijo, Brambles’ Global Head of Sustainability: “For us ‘regenerative’ means restoring, replenishing and creating more value or capital for society and the environment than the business takes out. The business understands its responsibility around this ambitious vision which is why we are also seeking to account for both the Natural and Social capital of our 2025 programmes and validate our progress towards regenerative position.”

Brambles shared its achievements over the past five years in its annual Sustainability Review released in September where it also unveiled its new targets, seeking to create a nature-positive business with re-use, resilience and regeneration at its core. This innovative sustainability strategy sees an evolution from Brambles’ 2015 Better Planet, Better Business, Better Communities programme to a Planet Positive, Business Positive and Communities Positive strategy. In essence it’s about doing more good, creating more positive outcomes rather than being ‘less bad’ by only reducing negative impacts.

Brambles believes this vision is ambitious and, right now, it admits it doesn’t have all the answers. However, through the engagement of its people and commitment of its partners the company will collaborate to find the solutions. As a pioneer in the circular economy, Brambles is already well positioned to succeed in this new context and importantly, it has already begun.


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