Descartes acquires NZ logistics tech company

Descartes, a global software-as-a-service solutions provider for logistics-intensive businesses has announced that it has acquired Core Transport Technologies NZ Limited, a NZ electronic transportation network that provides global air carriers and ground handlers with shipment scanning and tracking solutions.

CORE has been connecting commercial airlines, ground handlers and the wider logistics community with trading partners and government postal authorities around the world for more than ten years.

Customers use CORE’s network to accurately track international mail, parcel and cargo shipments as well as US domestic mail and parcel shipments. CORE’s solutions leverage mobile technologies and data analytics to help customers automate processes and increase operational efficiency.

“As US domestic and international ecommerce continues to grow, more demands are being placed on carriers and their partners to deliver efficiently and report events in real-time. The CORE acquisition complements our recent investment in Velocity Mail, helping us to better serve the logistics service provider community working with postal authorities around the world. CORE’s solutions also extend beyond mail and parcel shipment tracking, with air cargo tracking solutions that we can add to our Global Logistics Network,” Ken Wood, EVP of Product Management at Descartes said.

“We continue to look for opportunities to add customers, solutions and content to our Global Logistics Network to help our customers manage the lifecycle of shipments. By combining with CORE, we’re strengthening our position in the growing domestic and global ecommerce market. We’re also adding new solutions to our Descartes Global Air Messaging Gateway that we believe will present a compelling opportunity for our global air cargo community to enhance real-time tracking and visibility of air shipments.,” said Edward J. Ryan, Descartes’ CEO.

CORE is headquartered in Nelson, New Zealand. Descartes acquired CORE for up-front consideration of $US 21.0 million, plus potential performance-based consideration. The up-front consideration was satisfied with cash from Descartes’ existing acquisition line of credit. The maximum amount payable under the all-cash performance-based earn-out is $US 9.0 million, based on CORE achieving revenue-based targets in each of the first two years post-acquisition. Any earn-out is expected to be paid in fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2022.

DHL invests US$300M in emerging technologies

DHL Supply Chain has announced plans to deploy emerging technologies in 350 of its 430 facilities in North American facilities and transportation control towers as part of a $300 million investment.
Selected technologies will vary by customer needs, based on the outcomes of research and pilot programs completed by DHL’s internal innovation teams and collaboration with dozens of external innovators.
The availability – and practical utilisation – of these technologies is expected to help the diverse customer base including those addressing e-commerce and omnichannel challenges to minimise complexity, remove capacity constraints, and maximise service to their customers.
According to DHL, accelerating the implementation of selected technologies such as robotics, augmented reality, robotics process automation, IoT and DHL’s proprietary end-to-end visibility solution – MySupplyChain – is the objective of DHL Supply Chain’s global digitalisation strategy.
“This investment is about a holistic view of emerging technologies that enables our customers to achieve their growth and profitability goals. Our customers’ needs are not homogenous as each business and segment has unique challenges and levels of maturity. Therefore, it is important that our customers can benefit from our experiences and expertise with a variety of emerging technologies,” Scott Sureddin, CEO, DHL Supply Chain North America said.

More stringent air-side ID checks to come into force on 1 July

Thousands of Australians servicing aviation, including freight forwarders and airport staff, will soon be subject to federal background checks, with new laws covering US-bound cargo coming into effect on 1 July 2017.
Since 2005, individuals working unescorted in airport security zones have been required to obtain and display Aviation Security Identification Cards (ASIC) as proof of having undergone a valid background check.
New Federal laws coming into effect on 1 July will require many new classifications of workers supporting the aviation industry – such as freight forwarders and known consigners – to possess higher level security ID, if operations involve US-bound air cargo.
Australian technology company Veritas has received Federal Government authorisation to provide ASICs for individuals supporting the aviation sector.
Stephen Inouye, Managing Director, Veritas, said, “This milestone enables Veritas to extend our technology-enabled security registration services from the maritime and offshore sectors to the aviation sector, thereby helping companies achieve compliance with minimal impacts to operations.”
Inouye noted that from July, only white ASIC holders will be permitted to handle and screen Australian cargo bound for the US.
“Veritas has the systems in place ready to assist thousands of airport staff and freight contractors who, potentially, now need to urgently undertake background checks in order to receive their white ASIC to make sure freight is on planes bound for the US in time,” he said.
“The Office of Transport Security – administered by the Federal Government’s Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development – has identified 11,000 companies which could be impacted. Many Australian employees, particularly of logistics companies and transport operators, may now need white ASIC cards.”

Australian airports fitted with high-tech x-rays for US-bound cargo

Ground-handling company dnata Australia has invested $1.5 million to install five state-of-the-art x-ray machines in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide, in keeping with the mandated Piece Level Screening requirements for cargo consignments to the United States.
The new infrastructure has been put in place at the airports dnata operates in ready for the 1 July deadline. Along with changes to cargo screening that have been imposed by the Office of Transport Security (OTS) in conjunction with the US Transport Security Administration (TSA), dnata has identified improvements in operating procedures and provided training for their staff to ensure compliance with the increased security measures.
All cargo that passes through dnata’s facilities across Australia travelling to the US – either on a direct flight or via another airport – will be subject to the screening requirements.
The changes in cargo screening will impact airline carriers and the extended freight forwarding community, and dnata has been “working closely with customers, government authorities and other cargo terminal operators to ensure that the processes that are being evaluated are not only the most safe in the industry but also efficient and supported by our customers,” the company said in a press release.

US and Chinese delivery giants form partnership

UPS and SF Holding, the parent company of SF Express, have announced plans to establish a joint venture through which the pair will develop and provide international delivery services, initially from China to the US with plans to add other destinations later.
“UPS is excited to form a joint venture with SF,” said Ross McCullough, President of UPS Asia Pacific. “This joint venture will support products that provide competitive benefits to our Chinese customers who trade or seek to trade internationally.
Alan Wong, Group Vice President, SF, added, “China is leading the world in terms of e-commerce market size, growth, penetration and mobile business usage. Coupled with a rapidly growing and internet-savvy consumer base, it’s imperative that SF and UPS collaborate to revolutionize the logistics sector.  Together, we aim to bring greater competitive advantages to our customers in China, to succeed globally.”
The joint venture is subject to regulatory approval.

Flexe – the Airbnb of warehousing

US start-up Flexe is revolutionising the way merchants secure storage, using an Airbnb-style model of allocating under-utilised warehouse space, as first reported by Bloomberg.
In less than five years, the Seattle company has established a network – or marketplace – of 550 warehouses, without spending any money on facilities. What’s more, its recently launched overnight US-wide delivery service is better than even Amazon can offer.
Flexe currently has 2.3 million square metres of storage, approximately one quarter of Amazon’s capacity, and the company expects to add a further 930,000 square metres this year.
Flexe has been designed for start-ups that do not know their capacity needs for the future; previously they were obligated to lock themselves into long-term contracts that may prove to be insufficient or overly ambitious for their future needs.
Flexe’s founders decided to tap into underutilised warehouse space, renting it out in the same way that homeowners lease their properties for short periods. The company approached large companies with space booked year-round about using their underutilised space when busy season – be it summer, Halloween, Christmas or Valentine’s Day – has ended.
They then launched ‘overflow’ services, for retailers and wholesalers needing to store pallets of inventory for short periods, later adding online order fulfilment, enabling warehouse operators to charge more to pack and ship orders directly, by truck rather than plane due to the coverage provided by the network of warehouses.
Flexe is proving popular with online brands in the US such as mattress seller Casper as customers can order through the merchant’s own website.

UPS investing in natural gas fleet, infrastructure

US-based United Postal Service (UPS) will invest more than US$90 million ($117 million) in building an additional six compressed natural gas (CNG) fuelling stations and add 390 new CNG prime movers and terminal trucks and 50 liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles to its alternative fuel fleet.
“With more than 4,400 natural gas vehicles and a network of fuelling stations, UPS has had great results using natural gas as an alternative fuel in our fleet,” said Mark Wallace, Senior Vice President Global Engineering and Sustainability, UPS. “We know the importance of investing in natural gas globally for our fleet and the alternative fuel market. In 2016, we used more than 61 million gallons of natural gas in our ground fleet, which included 4.6 million gallons of renewable natural gas. This helped us to avoid the use of conventional gas and diesel, and decreased CO2 emissions by 100,000 metric tons.”
UPS CNG small
The six new CNG stations will be built in Ontario, California; Orlando, Florida; Salina, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky and Greensboro, North Carolina in the US, and Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. Renewable natural gas (RNG) will be used at the station in Ontario to fuel UPS vehicles in the area with renewable compressed natural gas (RCNG).
In 2016, UPS invested $100 million in CNG fuelling stations and vehicles. The postal service currently operates 31 CNG fueling stations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia and runs CNG vehicles in 38 states in the US in addition to vehicles in Germany, the Netherlands and Thailand.
The company has driven more than one billion miles since 2000 with its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.

Amazon uses fulfilment centre rooftops to generate clean energy

Amazon has launched a solar energy initiative which will see the e-commerce company install solar systems on 50 fulfilment facility rooftops worldwide by 2020.
The initial 15 solar projects planned for completion by the end of 2017 will generate up to 41MW of power at Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on the specific project, time of year and other factors, the company reports that a solar installation could generate as much as 80 per cent of a single fulfilment facility’s annual energy needs. Solar panels installed on the rooftop of the fulfilment centre in Patterson, California, cover more than three-quarters of the 1.1 million square foot building’s rooftop and will power the hundreds of Amazon Robotics utilised by associates at ground-level.
“As our fulfilment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Amazon. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability – this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.”

FedEx ships giant panda from US to China

FedEx Express has successfully shipped giant panda Bao Bao from Washington D.C. in the US to Chengdu in China.
Bao Bao landed at China’s Chengdu Shuangliu Airport on February 22 at 6:59 pm onboard a custom-decalled FedEx B777 Freighter (B777F) known as the FedEx Panda Express.
Upon arrival, she was transported to her new home in Sichuan province, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda’s Dujiangyan City Reserve.
“It’s a great honour for FedEx Express to be able to support this latest mission by donating our expertise and resources, and to be entrusted once again with such a valuable and symbolic shipment,” said Karen Reddington, President, FedEx Express Asia Pacific. “We’ve assisted with giant panda shipments several times in the past and have considerable experience of managing the process, which involves months of planning and cross-disciplinary teamwork. Transporting Bao Bao is also an act of good global citizenship that leverages our unique network and specialised capabilities to help connect the world.”

Bao Bao
Bao Bao

Bao Bao, a three-and-a-half-year-old female panda born in August 2013 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is the offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, both currently living in the US.
FedEx provided a dedicated aircraft to bring Bao Bao’s brother Tai Shan to China in 2010, and her parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, to the United States in 2000.
Sydney’s Port Botany recently received a giraffe traveling between Auckland and New South Wales’ Mogo Zoo.

UPS turns delivery truck into drone launcher

US-based postal service UPS has fitted out an electric truck with a drone launch pad to test drone-assisted delivery.
For the never-before-tried feat, a drone flew autonomously out of the roof of one of the postal company’s iconic brown delivery trucks, carrying a package to its nearby destination.
News site CNET reports that UPS carried out the test on Monday 20 February in Tampa, Florida.
The truck and drone were both developed by electric vehicle–maker Workhorse.
The drone was loaded with its cargo and exited the truck through a retractable roof. It then followed a predetermined autonomous route while the driver continued to another destination to make another delivery. The drone then found the truck at its new destination and docked itself back on its charging dock on the roof.
“When people ask, ‘When did drones begin entering the delivery space?’ I think it’ll be Monday. It should signal a huge change,” Steve Burns, founder and CEO of Workhorse, said ahead of the test.
By cutting down on the number of stops needed by delivery trucks, the drone technology could help save time and fuel. The model is being considered for rural work, where delivery destinations are often spaced far apart. UPS stated that by trimming just one mile (1.6 km) per driver per day would save the company up to $65 million per year, while also delivering environmental benefits.
Due to legal restrictions around flying objects dictated by the Federal Aviation Administration, it will be a while yet before delivery drones are allowed outside of controlled tests. That said, Burns believes the drone-and-truck technology built by Workhorse could be available as soon as this year.
“We’re studying and understanding the opportunities that this will provide for us,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “So we will continue to look toward the future.
“It really moves us into understanding how the technology can assist our service providers. This will not replace our service providers.”
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