The skies are getting greener

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is contributing more to greener skies by further reducing food wastage on board, cutting back on the use of plastics for in-flight items and increasing the use of sustainable ingredients in in-flight meals.
“We are proud to have embarked on a new era of greater sustainability, with an enhanced focus on environmentally responsible practices on board that will significantly reduce our carbon footprint and improve sustainable travel of our customers,” said SIA’s senior vice president customer experience Yeoh Phee Teik.
Cutting down on food waste
SIA currently employs customer surveys, data analytics and staff feedback, and works with its caterers to reduce food wastage after flights.
The airline plans to automate data collection and further leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to better predict customers’ consumption patterns and further reduce cabin food waste.
Through an improved monitoring system of customers’ consumption patterns and data analytics, SIA will be able to better adjust the quantities of certain food items uplifted to minimise wastage without compromising on customer service.
Reducing use of plastics in-flight through alternative sustainable materials
SIA is also committed to reducing the use of single-use plastics with alternative sustainable materials for more in-flight items.
The airline aims to become entirely plastic straw-free by September 2019. Since September 2018, SIA has removed all plastic straws on board, apart from children’s straws. The latter will be substituted with environmentally friendly paper straws. These changes will reduce about 820,000 plastic straws each year. The airline also has plans to replace its current plastic swizzle sticks with wood-based ones by September 2019.
From May 2019, SIA will also be replacing polybags from children’s toys with recyclable paper packaging.
Several of the airline’s paper products, such as menu cards, tissue paper and toilet rolls, are made with FSC-certified paper, which have been sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Other upcoming green initiatives include the printing of children’s colouring books and activity kits using eco-friendly soy-based ink.
Sustainable food sourcing
Expanding on the airline’s ‘From Farm to Plane’ concept introduced in 2017, which promotes environmental sustainability and supports local farming communities, SIA will be embarking on an exciting new collaboration with AeroFarms, the world’s largest indoor vertical farm of its kind based in Newark, United States.
Produce at AeroFarms is grown indoors without soil, pesticides or sunlight, using AeroFarms’ award-winning aeroponic technology.
“As vertical farms are not weather dependent but operate under a controlled environment, crops can be grown year-round, thereby increasing the amount of sustainable produce to support more of the Airline’s needs,” Mr Yeoh said.
Aerofarms will provide a customised blend of fresh produce for SIA’s Newark to Singapore flights from September 2019.
“Imagine boarding a plane and enjoying a salad harvested only a few hours before take-off – literally the world’s freshest airline food,” said SIA’s food & beverage director Antony McNeil.
SIA through its catering partner SATS currently sources certain types of produce from two local farms for flights departing Singapore. It plans to work with SATS to identify local vertical farms to work with.
Other ingredients obtained from sustainable sources include selected locally farmed fish from fisheries that are certified by Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP).

New truck design on the horizon: just add wheels

Prof. Amir Khajepour stands next to a vehicle containing his new wheel unit.

Vehicles could be affordably produced for a wide variety of specialised purposes using a sophisticated wheel unit developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
The self-contained unit combines a wheel and an electric motor with braking, suspension, steering and a control system in a single module designed to be bolted to any vehicle frame.
It would free manufacturers from making huge investments to develop those components from scratch and enable the economical production of specialised vehicles in even small quantities.
“The idea is modularity and plug-and-play control capability,” said Amir Khajepour, a mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor at Waterloo. “Our wheel unit, in a sense, is a full vehicle with only one wheel. All that’s missing is a body.”
Automotive researchers first applied the concept to electric, two-seater urban cars, which promise to ease congestion and reduce pollution, but make up only a tiny fraction of sales because of high prices, space limitations and safety concerns.
Mass-produced wheel units would significantly reduce production costs whilst also creating space for passengers that would otherwise be devoted to mechanical components such as steering columns.

To improve the stability of the tall, narrow cars, researchers also designed and prototyped the units – which weigh about 40 kilograms and have about 25 horsepower – to enable active wheel cambering, or tilting.
“Companies will be able to produce a smaller car that is cheaper, too,” said Mr Khajepour, director of the Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab. “Right now, we are not there. You have to pay more to get a smaller car, to get less.”
The next step in the research involves scaling up the wheel unit, technically called a corner module, for large utility and commercial vehicles.
That would pave the way for more cost-effective production of low-volume, specialised vehicles with customised bodies in fields such as rescue operations.
“It’s an economy of scale problem,” Mr Khajepour said. “Corner modules would allow us, without enormous development costs, to make vehicles that are specific for each application, for each function, by concentrating only on the design of the body and the user interface.”
A paper on the research, Development of a Novel Integrated Corner Module for Narrow Urban Vehicles, was co-authored by Khajepour, former master’s student Mohammad-Amin Rajaie and post-doctoral fellows Alireza Pazooki and Amir Soltani. It first appeared online in Journal of Automobile Engineering in January 2018 and in print on February 1, 2019.
 

Delivering the future: the delivery robot arrives

FedEx Corp. has launched a new agent to meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers: the FedEx SameDay Bot, an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers.
With the bot, retailers will be able to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. FedEx is collaborating with companies such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to help assess retailers’ autonomous delivery needs. On average, more than 60 per cent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation designed to change the face of local delivery and help retailers efficiently address their customers’ rising expectations,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx. “The bot represents a milestone in our ongoing mission to solve the complexities and expense of same-day, last-mile delivery for the growing e-commerce market in a manner that is safe and environmentally friendly.”
The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen, inventor of many life-changing technologies, including the iBot personal mobility device and the Segway.
“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Mr Kamen said. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible to those who need it for their own mobility.”
The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, safely delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. Bot features include pedestrian-safe technology from the iBot, plus advanced technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras, allowing the zero-emission, battery-powered bot to be aware of its surroundings. These features are coupled with machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path and allow the bot to follow road and safety rules. Proprietary technology makes the bot highly capable, allowing it to navigate unpaved surfaces, kerbs, and even steps for extraordinary door-to-door delivery.
The initial test will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations. FedEx Office currently offers a SameDay City service that operates in 32 markets and 1,900 cities using branded FedEx vehicles and uniformed FedEx employees. The FedEx bot will complement the FedEx SameDay City service.
The FedEx bot will support retailers in several segments, and the first group of retail customers to view the prototype have recognised the value the technology can bring to their industries.

ALC Forum sees rare outbreak of bipartisanship

The Federal Government and Federal Opposition have both reaffirmed their commitment to delivering a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy at the ALC Forum 2019 in Melbourne.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Michael McCormack MP and the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, Hon. Anthony Albanese MP have both told delegates that they recognise the critical importance of the strategy.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “Good progress is being made in partnership with all levels of government and it will be a key item of discussion at the next COAG Transport and Infrastructure Ministerial Council Meeting.”
Commenting on the Strategy during his address to Forum, Mr Albanese confirmed “…a future Labor Government would not try and reinvent the wheel yet again.”
This bipartisan approach is a positive sign that the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy remains central to the management of Australia’s future freight task and will be delivered in 2019, irrespective of the result of the upcoming federal election.
It was also encouraging to note the high degree of engagement and collaboration between the Federal Government and their state and territory counterparts on the development of the strategy. That momentum must be maintained throughout the election cycle.
It is essential that government and industry continue to work together to deliver a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy that will ensure a more prosperous Australia.
The six industry organisations listed below welcome this renewed commitment by both sides of politics.
“We will work across the whole supply chain industry to hold the elected government to a timetable that delivers the strategy in 2019 – so that all Australian households and businesses can share in the benefits of enhanced supply chain performance,” they said in a statement.

 

Air cargo volumes indicate worldwide trade slowdown

WorldACD reports that the enduring downward slide of air cargo volumes continued last month.
The first month of 2019 confirmed the trend we have seen for a number of months now: another volume drop, this time of 2% YoY, coupled with a yield drop (in USD) of 2.5%.
The smaller regions of Africa and Central & South America (C&S Am) again managed a YoY increase in outgoing business (by 3.8% resp. 0.6%), in the case of C&S Am accompanied by a YoY yield increase (in USD) of almost 5%.
All other origin regions were down YoY. For the origins Europe and North America, the drop hovered around 4%, but even more telling was the drop in incoming business in Asia Pacific (-6% in total, -8% from the origin North America, and -9.5% from the origin Europe).
Origin China grew by 5% YoY, but the destination China fell by more than 10%. We observed this trend also in the past two months, but it was more pronounced in January due to the early Chinese New Year (Feb 5 in 2019).
As we see it, the period preceding this day seems to have a small positive effect on outgoing business from Asia Pacific, but a more serious negative effect on incoming business.
The countries doing well in January were Morocco and Egypt in Africa, and Ecuador and Costa Rica in C&S Am. And what to say about the United Kingdom? Whilst all individual countries in Western Europe saw a YoY drop (- 5.5% in total), the UK grew by 5%…. Do we witness a pre-Brexit stocking up of goods made in Britain? Germany fared worst in Europe, with a YoY drop in outgoing air cargo of 8.7% (-14.5% to Asia Pacific).
On the product front, January 2019 was a good month for certain specific cargo categories. Apart from general cargo, valuables and dangerous goods, all categories improved YoY. The big categories of perishables and high tech grew by 6% resp. 4%, pharmaceuticals by 5% and the much smaller group of live animals by 9%.
Trying to find out which (groups of) companies may have best positioned themselves for a good performance in 2019, we looked who did relatively well in the ‘downturn’ of 2018, compared with the bumper year 2017.
In spite of an overall growth between the two years of 2%, most airline groups hardly grew: airlines from Asia Pacific reported 0.7% growth, whilst those from Africa, MESA and C&S Am languished around the no-growth point. Only the airlines from North America (+6.3%) and Europe (+3.8%) beat the worldwide average growth. Remarkably, the Europeans improved their share everywhere, except in Europe itself.
The world’s top-20 forwarders went from a 43.2% to a 43% market share. But within this elite group, differences were noticeable. The 13 forwarders with a European origin grew by 0.5% only, whilst the 4 MESA and North American forwarders did just a bit better (+1.5%). The real winners in 2018 were the Japanese forwarders, growing their business by 7.2%, mainly driven by growth in Asia Pacific and North America. Leading forwarders in perishables, such as Kuehne + Nagel, Panalpina, DB Schenker and Newport, recorded double digit growth (between 13% and 16%) in this category.
Lastly, GSA’s grew their business by 5.2%. The two groups dominating the GSA-field (ECS and WFC), representing around 30% of the total volume sold by GSAs, together grew by 3.7% i.e. less than the GSA-market as a whole. Their individual performances differed quite a bit.
January 2019 at a glance:

  • Total Chargeable Weight: -2.0% year-over-year (YoY); -6.2% month-over-month (MoM).
  • General cargo -5% YoY, special cargo +4.6% YoY.
  • Direct Ton Kilometers (DTK’s): -1.9% YoY. (Given the -2% change in volume, this means that average distance per shipment hardly changed).
  • Yield dropped to USD 1.84 (-2.5% YoY, -8.0% MoM).
  • The cargo load factor dropped by 1.9%-points YoY and by 4%-points MoM.
  • Revenues (USD) from the smallest shipments (0-50 kg) suffered least (-2.1% YoY), those from the largest shipments (>5000 kg) suffered most (-6.4% YoY).

(See www.worldacd.com/yields for more yield developments.)

Logistics of the future: underground distribution

What logistics of the future could look like: cargo in containers moving through underground tunnels. (Image by Cargo sous terrain).

Imagine a futuristic world where cargo moves through an underground network of tunnels – automatically, quietly and intelligently enabling just-in-time deliveries.
Cargo sous terrain (CST) is a Swiss-led consortium set to transform logistics and propel the industry into digitalisation.
CST envisions an automated, digitally controlled comprehensive logistics system in Switzerland by 2045, aimed at promoting economic competitiveness and improving quality of life. CST will ensure the safe, secure and punctual delivery of containers, pallets and parcels. At its backbone is an underground system of transport tunnels linking the business centres north of the Alps with environmentally friendly distribution in cities and industrial areas.
The first section of the tunnel system is expected to be ready in 2030 and will connect the logistics hub Härkingen-Niederbipp (near the capital Bern) with Zurich. When completed, the fully automated network will extend from Geneva to St Gallen and from Basel to Luzern, with an additional branch from Bern to Thun. The full network will have 500 km of tunnels, serving more than 80 hubs for the loading and unloading of industrial and commercial goods for about 10 million people. With 1 million square meters of surface underground, CST will be the largest warehouse in Switzerland.

The full underground network connecting Swiss business centres with cities and industrial areas will have 500 km of tunnels when completed. (Image by Cargo sous terrain).

“CST is the most ambitious and advanced logistics project for Switzerland in the next decades and could potentially serve as a role model for the rest of the world,” said Stefan Karlen, CEO of Panalpina, which has just become a shareholder.
CST will reduce the number of trucks on existing roads, in particular at traffic bottlenecks, by 40 per cent. Freight traffic in cities will be reduced by up to 30 per cent, thanks to the systematic and efficient delivery by electric vehicles that meet urban requirements. The system will run entirely on renewable energy. With end-to-end digitalisation, the system will operate in an extremely flexible environment, with dynamic deliveries in small units and guaranteed arrival times for goods.
End-to-end digitalisation from source to destination will make cargo transport smarter, more efficient and sustainable in the long run. (Image by Cargo sous terrain).

The building permit and planning phase of CST will start with the passing of the CST law, expected in late 2020. As a first step, the Swiss Federal Council will open consultation on the new legislation that will allow CST to become reality.

E-commerce logistics market growth starting to slow

The latest report from Ti shows a market still expanding rapidly, but one in which competition, challenges and new entrants are raising questions over future development opportunities
The global e-commerce logistics market grew by 18.2% in 2018. Still a relatively nascent sector, e-commerce logistics growth is well above that seen in other logistics markets. Emerging markets are showing the fastest expansion, but even in developed economies, growth rates in nominal terms are usually in double-digits. Ti expects the global market to grow at an expected nominal 2018-2023 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8%.
Ti’s latest figures suggest the cross-border component is a significant driver of this uplift. Cross-border e-commerce is bringing supply chain stakeholders into direct contact and challenging the status quo. But while gaining access to millions, if not billions, of new customers is an attractive proposition for e-commerce companies, targeting purchasers in foreign markets is not the easiest of strategies.
The report also examines the trend for offering more omni-channel retail solutions, likely to be a key requirement moving forward. This is largely driven by the purchasing behaviour of consumers, who demand a seamless experience enabled by the use of different channels to order, pay, collect and return products. They demand more delivery and returns options and leverage retailers against each other to get the best value for their money.
In addition, Global e-commerce Logistics 2019 examines e-fulfilment and last mile cost structures, and provides analysis of structural variations by geography and retail sector.
The report authors spoke extensively with senior management and leaders at the largest e-fulfilment and last mile providers globally, as well as with niche e-commerce logistics providers. A common theme was the threat posed by global retail platforms managing their own logistics requirements whilst also offering services to third parties.
The entry of players such as Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com is forcing many to consider what the future of e-commerce logistics might look like. The report’s lead author, Viki Keckarovska, senior research analyst at Ti, said: “While some would say that Europe’s legacy infrastructure and market structures are unfit for the new e-retail world, it could equally be argued that Europe boasts probably the most efficient logistics and transport sector in the world. Ti’s discussions with logistics executives and leaders in the market suggest Europe’s legacy infrastructure is seen as a hindrance to the development of efficient e-retail distribution networks, with facilities in the ‘wrong’ place and markets which were more focused on B2B rather than B2C deliveries.”

The ocean awaits

Maritime Industry Australia Ltd (MIAL) has launched the maritime industry’s Seafaring Skills Census.
The 2018 Census received 169 responses, providing an excellent cross-section of the industry indicating the importance the sector places on this information.
The census shows there are currently over 5,500 seafarers working at sea and ashore. Alarmingly, 52% are older than 46 and only 8% younger than 30. The census also forecasts a 560+ shortage of seafarers in 2023.
MIAL CEO Teresa Lloyd commented on the findings of the report, acknowledging that gaining seafaring skills in Australia is difficult when it depends on ships being available. The census is the first step in a more holistic evaluation on the national skilling need.
Ms Lloyd observed: “As everyone with an interest in the maritime industry knows the workforce is aging, the opportunities to train and work in the industry are reducing, yet the need for qualified and experienced officers is as great as ever.
“The training pipeline has reduced to a trickle. The end users of seafarer skills need to do more. Ports, regulators, educators, surveyors, the entire maritime community depend on having sufficiently experienced people available to fill key roles and they need to be part of the solution, not just part of the problem.
“There is great opportunity for the industry to better work together to maximise the efficiency of the limited training opportunities that currently exist, to share the cost burden across those who need the skills, and increase the pool of people entering the maritime industry,” said Ms Lloyd.
In introducing the census report, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development the Hon Michael McCormack MP said of the Census: “Providing this data to the maritime sector is critical to the future planning needed to identify opportunities for industry sectors and governments to collaborate, foster innovation, encourage investment and develop the systems we need to ensure a steady supply of new mariners to fill critical roles at sea and on land.”
MIAL welcomed the comment from the Deputy Prime Minister and called on the government to work with industry and support initiatives that ensure skills so critical to the national economy are developed and maintained.
MIAL also announced its commitment to furthering interest in the sector via the MIAL Maritime Introduction prize, an opportunity for a young person to sail on the Young Endeavour, attend the suite of MIAL training courses, and be exposed to a wide range of facets of our sector via a work experience placement with MIAL. Details of eligibility, application process and selection criteria for this prize will be announced in the very near future.
Click here to view the official report.
 

Jungheinrich boosts investment in Li-ion tech

Jungheinrich AG and Triathlon Holding GmbH have come together to found JT ENERGY Systems GmbH, a joint venture focused on the production and recycling of lithium-ion battery systems.
Jungheinrich holds a 70 per cent share in the joint venture with Triathlon taking the remaining 30 per cent. The company is due to begin operations in August 2019. JT ENERGY Systems intends to create around 100 new jobs at the plant in the next few years.
Both Jungheinrich and Triathlon are known for their industry-leading level of expertise in the field of lithium-ion technology across a wide variety of applications. This extensive knowledge will be combined within JT ENERGY Systems. The aim of the joint venture between Jungheinrich and Triathlon is for the two companies to expand their production capacities to cover the ever-increasing demand for lithium-ion battery systems and to further develop their technological leadership in this field. JT ENERGY will supply products to both companies.
Chairman of the board of management of Jungheinrich AG Hans-Georg Frey said: “For our customers, energy efficiency and maximum truck availability are key competitive advantages. We support them in this with a range of trucks and products that utilise the benefits of lithium-ion technology. The exponential sales growth we have experienced in recent years shows that the intralogistics sector is making a decisive move toward lithium-ion technology.
“Jungheinrich recognised this trend early on. Today, we act as a one-stop shop offering everything from our own energy storage devices and power units to battery chargers, and our comprehensive expertise in energy makes us innovation leaders within the sector. This collaboration with Triathlon will enable us to leverage further untapped potential in the market for electric trucks and drive the development of this future technology forward.”
Managing director of Triathlon Holding GmbH Martin Hartmann said: “We are proud to be taking this step with a company as well respected as Jungheinrich AG. We believe that the joint venture will see us achieve greater economies of scale and scope that will in turn increase our competitiveness considerably. Going forward, this move will give our customers and partners access to an even broader range of cutting-edge lithium-ion battery systems based on the latest technology.”
JT ENERGY Systems is due to begin operations in August 2019.

CHR appoints Andrew Coldrey new vice president of Oceania

Global third-party logistics provider C.H. Robinson has named Andrew Coldrey as vice president, Oceania, following the retirement of Mike Smith in December 2018 after more than 30 years of tenure. Andrew will report to Mike Short, president Global Forwarding at C.H. Robinson.
“I’m excited to have Andrew lead the Oceania team, where his main focus will be to increase customer success, and create greater focus on C.H. Robinson’s global product development,” said Mike Short, president, Global Forwarding at C.H. Robinson. “Andrew’s expertise and leadership skills will drive regional growth and advancement of Global Forwarding within Oceania, in close alignment with his teams in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the global network”.
Andrew has held various roles throughout the business, having started his career in freight forwarding with C.H. Robinson. Since 1995, he has been an integral member of the Oceania management team. He managed the New South Wales office, generated opportunity for regional growth as manager of international development, and led successful operational and commercial teams as regional director.
“I am thrilled to be leading the Oceania team, and I look forward to continuous learning, development and innovation in support of our people and customers,” Andrew said. “The greater focus of our operational and commercial teams will allow for more collaboration and overall business excellence.”
C.H. Robinson continues to deliver expertise and logistics services to global and local Australian and New Zealand companies. C.H. Robinson focuses on product development and innovation, which includes the expansion of Australian domestic services to include a local air service that complements coastal shipping. Further developments include customised technology that creates greater visibility for customers over their supply chains.
 

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