Texas-based Emergent Cold is moving further into the Australian market with the acquisition of Victoria- based Oxford Cold Storage. According to a statement released by the company, this acquisition complements the broader Emergent Cold strategy of creating a global network of cold chain businesses and is subject to regulatory approval. The organisation recently acquired Australian businesses Swire Cold Storage and Montague Cold Storage. “This is a very exciting time for the Oxford business. The Emergent acquisition provides our staff with increased opportunities and career development. It will also provide for the opportunity to service clients across Emergent’s substantial geographical footprint and to increase our service offerings,” Paul Fleiszig, Oxford’s Operations and Marketing Director said. “We look forward to welcoming the Oxford Cold Storage team to the Emergent Cold network. Combining Oxford with our platform will further strengthen our offering to the Australian and International market,” Neal Rider, CEO of Emergent Cold said. Emergent Cold was founded in 2017 with the vision to be the leading global cold chain services partner for its customers. Emergent Cold has grown through a combination of business acquisitions and new greenfield developments and now has a network of 42 cold stores in five countries.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is set to trial self-driving trucks in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas for a two-week period. TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, has announced that the USPS has awarded it a contract to perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot. This trial will haul USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centres. The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety. TuSimple will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which includes overnight driving, along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors to make the trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The freight that flows along I-10 corridor accounts for 60 percent of the total economic activity in the United States. “It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck. Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialisation progress,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, TuSimple said.
Skyborne, a Brisbane-based drone company, has secured $US2.45 million in international capital investment to expand its tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle business into overseas markets. Innovation Minister Kate Jones said Skyborne received a grant through round two of the government’s Ignite Ideas program to develop their ground-breaking tri-tilt-rotor UAV, Cerberus GL. “Since the government first partnered with Skyborne in 2017, they’ve created an extra 10 positions in Brisbane and are scaling up to export their technology overseas. This is a great example of a company that’s successfully leveraged government support to attract significant international investment from a private investor based in Abu Dhabi to continue growing its business and get closer to commercialisation,” she said. The Cerberus GL UAV weighs less than six kilograms and has the capability to provide user aerial support on the battlefield, being classed as the lightest armed tactical UAV of its class, with applications in defence, counter-terrorism and law enforcement. Skyborne Technologies CEO and Director Dr Michael Creagh said that although the Cerberus GL weighed less than six kilograms it was capable of providing aerial fire support at the squad and platoon level. It could also be used to deploy flash or smoke grenades to assist with counter-terrorism and law enforcement initiatives. “It has been an amazing two years for Skyborne under Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas program, securing a Series A round of investment to expand our engineering team and manufacturing capabilities to deliver a commercialised product to interested parties,” Dr Creagh said. “Raising capital for the next generation of tactical UAVs is not an easy undertaking and without grant programs like Ignite Ideas, companies like ours face an even greater struggle.” Skyborne Technologies Chief Business Officer and Director Adrian Dudok said the support from the Queensland Government and recent capital raise has allowed Skyborne to employ seven additional staff and move to a larger commercial premise to support in-house manufacturing. “With the continued support from the Queensland Government, Skyborne will contribute towards the focus on strengthening Queensland’s defence and manufacturing industry. The export opportunities are endless and we’ve received some serious interest from the US and Middle East.”
CEVA Logistics and IKEA have celebrated the opening of a new Customer Distribution Center (CDC) at Staten Island on the US east coast. Under a five-year deal to provide warehouse management and fulfilment services, CEVA will manage the 975,000 sq ft (906,000 sq m) site. Built on a previously vacant 200 acre piece on land on the west shore of Staten Island, the focus of the new CDC will be on delivering items to customers who order products online or purchase larger items at an IKEA store or Planning Studio for home delivery. The facility is already fully operational and works seven days a week. Brett Bissell, CEVA’s Chief Operating Officer, Contract Logistics, who represented the company at the recent Grand Opening, told the audience: “We have developed an excellent working relationship with IKEA where we have focused on the cultural alignment between our two companies so that we can deliver the operational excellence IKEA demands every time. “We’ve used our logistics expertise to design and deliver solid solutions which specifically meet your needs and enable this huge facility to run effectively. We then combine the skills and experience of our operations managers and supply chain designers to make the building work for you on a day-to-day basis.” “We are proud to partner with CEVA logistics to operate our new Staten Island fulfilment center, which has brought 200 new jobs in the market,” said Tanja Dysli, Customer Fulfillment Manager, IKEA Retail U.S. “The new facility will help meet the delivery needs of our New York-area customers whether they are shopping in our stores, the IKEA Planning Studio or online.” CEVA and IKEA have worked together since 2015 with successful working partnerships in the UK and Australia.
Texas-based Emergent Cold has announced the acquisition of the Montague Cold Storage facilities in Melbourne. According to Emergent Gold, this acquisition complements its broader strategy of acquiring and developing a global network of cold chain businesses. Montagues was founded in 1948, by William (Bill) Montague OAM by purchasing a carting operation that turned the Montague name into a fresh food provider. The first orchard was planted at Narre warren, Victoria in 1950. Innovation continued with the introduction of Controlled Atmosphere storage to Australia in 1967, followed by their first cold storage facility at Allansford in 1989. “We want to thank all the executives and staff who have contributed to this wonderful business over 60 years. The Montague family and management team will be focussing our energy and future endeavours in the horticultural industry, where there are many exciting opportunities both nationally and internationally,” Ray Montague, Chairman of Montague Group said. Emergent Cold was founded in 2017 with the vision to build a global cold chain solution for multinational customers. Emergent Cold has grown through a combination of business acquisitions and greenfield developments in emerging and developing markets. “We are delighted to welcome the Montague Cold Storage team to the Emergent Cold network. Combining Montague’s assets with our national service capability will further strengthen our offering to the Australian and International market,” Neal Rider, CEO of Emergent Cold said.
Oregon-based firm Agility Robots has launched a bipedal robot it hopes will revolutionise the logistics of delivery. The team behind ‘Cassie’ the robot, led by Agility Robots’ founder and CEO Damion Shelton, originally met at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering. They secured a 16-month, US$1 million ($1.3 million) grant from the US Department of Defense to develop Cassie, though are excited at the potential disruption she could cause in the logistics industry. “This technology will simply explode at some point, when we create vehicles so automated and robots so efficient that deliveries and shipments are almost free,” said Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor of robotics in the OSU College of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer at Agility Robotics told the University. “Quite simply, robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot. This will be the key to deliveries that can be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a fleet of autonomous vans that pull up to your curb, and an on-board robot that delivers to your doorstep. “This robot capability will free people from weekend shopping chores, reduce energy use, and give consumers more time to do the things they want to do. It effectively brings efficient automated logistics from state-of-the-art warehouses out and into the rest of the world.” While news site Post&Parcel somewhat accurately described Cassie as resembling a headless ostrich, the team did not set out to give ‘her’ an animal-like appearance . “We weren’t trying to duplicate the appearance of an animal, just the techniques it uses to be agile, efficient and robust in its movement,” said Hurst. “We didn’t care what it looked like and were mostly just working to find out why Mother Nature did things a certain way. But even though we weren’t trying to mimic the form, what came out on the other end of our research looked remarkably like an animal leg.” Agility Robot’s website describes the potential applications the team envisions for Cassie: “A fleet of autonomous vehicles will deliver packages to your curb; a robot will take it to your doorstep. The entire system will be fast, delivering groceries in time for dinner; it will be less expensive than shopping in a store; and it will utilise existing roads and walkways. Automated delivery logistics will revolutionise the retail market.” Check out TechCrunch‘s one-minute sneak peak at Cassie, below.
Startup Convoy, which matches trucking companies with shippers via an app, is often compared with ride-sharing app Uber. Now that Uber’s former chief of software engineering, Tim Prout, has been brought into Convoy’s team, the similarities in the inner workings of their systems are bound to become even more alike. Convoy co-founder and CTO Grant Goodale revealed the acquisition to news site GeekWire’s John Cook. “Tim founded Uber’s Seattle engineering office and drove growth from zero to 150+ people in 18 months, and we’re excited for him to help us take on extreme growth at Convoy as well,” Goodale said. “Tim saw an opportunity to build the world’s best engineering team headquartered here in Seattle, tackling an enormous $800 billion opportunity with potential global impact.” During an interview with GeekWire last year, Dan Lewis, CEO at Convoy, acknowledged the parallels between the two transport apps. “The biggest parallel, I think, is that Uber made it lower cost and higher service levels by using technology,” he said. “I think that, when we think about this business, that is the most important thing we can do. We can actually increase the service levels. We can make it easier for truckers to get more work. We can make it easier for shippers to have trucks on short notice, and know where their trucks are, which is something they don’t usually know today. We can actually offer those better levels of service for a lower price. That’s what Uber did. “The other thing is — a big difference, I would say — is that Uber had to essentially go out there and build all their capacity. They had to go get people to drive cars. They had to set up this whole system that didn’t really exist before. One of the things that’s really nice, in our world, is that we’re working with existing trucking companies. These guys are already out there running two or three trucks, trying to grow their business, and they’re looking for work. We can sign up a lot of these entrepreneurs and get them more work without having to sort of go build that from scratch.”
Amazon announced on Tuesday that it intends to build a centralised air hub in Kentucky to support its growing fleet of Prime Air cargo planes. “As we considered places for the long-term home for our air hub operations, Hebron quickly rose to the top of the list with a large, skilled workforce, centralised location with great connectivity to our nearby fulfllment locations, and an excellent quality of living for employees,” said Dave Clark, Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We feel strongly that with these qualities as a place to do business, our investments will support Amazon and customers well into the future.” Last year, Amazon entered into agreements with two carriers to lease 40 dedicated cargo airplanes to support Prime members with fast, free shipping. Today, 16 of those planes are in service for Amazon customers with more planes rolling out. Amazon’s Prime Air hub at CVG airport will support Amazon’s dedicated fleet of Prime Air cargo planes by loading, unloading and sorting packages. This latest news will come as no surprise to observers witnessing the e-commerce company’s acquisition of trailers, planes and shipping rights over the past months, while also filing patents for other, more ‘out there’, delivery approaches including tunnels, drones and flying warehouses.
In one of his first actions as US President, Donald Trump has officially stepped back from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and eight other Pacific nations. Trump signed an executive order on Monday to withdraw the United States from the TPP, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). While Trump said the move from free trade to what he called “fair trade” would be a”great thing for the American worker” – arguing it would bring back manufacturing to the US – some local commentators see it as a major setback for the Australian economy. Opposition leader Bill Shorten, for example, declared the TPP “dead in the water” and said pursuing the deal was a waste of time. Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, meanwhile, insisted the pact was worth pursuing even without the US – adding Trump’s decision was disappointing, but not unexpected. “It’s a great shame [but] it’s not unexpected,” he told Sky News on Tuesday – adding that no modelling had been commissioned on what a deal without the US would look like, or what the benefits – if any – to Australia would be under such an agreement. Regardless of whether or not TTP will become a reality, real life implications for Australian businesses dealing with the US are likely to be moderate, according to Adam Lockyer, a Senior Lecturer in Security Studies at Macquarie University. In an interview with news.com.au last November, he said that the loss of the TPP would mean “business as usual” and that Australia already had important bilateral agreements in place with countries that make up the TPP, including the US, Japan and New Zealand. Trump also used his first full day of business to reinforce his message of “massively” cutting regulations and taxes on companies that keep jobs in the US, claiming they could be reduced by as much as 75 per cent, “maybe more.”
The Australian government is not backing away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement despite US president Donald Trump making killing the agreement a first priority, according to 9News. This statement follows a report stating that President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that President Trump would stick to his planned list of executive orders and that ditching the TPP is part of that list. “He is going to make sure every deal he cuts, just like he did in business, puts American workers and American manufacturing, American services first,” Spicer added. Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo told America’s CNN that the TPP was not ‘dead’. “What I would encourage President-elect Trump to do, what we’d really encourage the Americans to do, is to consider that there may be aspects of the TPP that they don’t like, but this is not a deal to be junked,” Ciobo said. President Trump has previously said that he is only interested in doing bilateral deals with other countries. However, according to Dr Giovanni Di Lieto, lecturer at Monash Business School, Australia all is not lost, even with the TPP potentially never seeing the light of day. Australia has a number of other trans-pacific trade options which its industry, including manufacturers can exploit. “Running alongside the crippled TPP, and potentially of more importance to Australian trade, has been the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” Dr Leto said. “If, as seems likely, the RCEP is accomplished in the near future, it will be the world’s largest free-trade agreement, covering a population of 3.5 billion, or more than 50 per cent of the world total, and about 40 per cent of the world trade volumes.”