FedEx takes on Amazon with new fulfilment service

FedEx Supply Chain, a subsidiary of international shipping company FedEx Corp. has announced ‘FedEx Fulfilment’ – a service catering to SMEs lacking in warehouse space and delivery know-how who want to appeal to online customers.
US companies using the service will be able to outsource the entire fulfilment process to FedEx. After receiving products from the companies, FedEx will handle warehousing, packaging, delivery and will also deal with returned orders. Sellers with have the option to use custom packaging featuring their logo rather than FedEx’s.
Using the service’s platform, sellers will be able to view and track their products, manage inventory and analyse trends.
“FedEx Fulfilment gives small and medium-sized businesses the potential to achieve profitable and scalable growth,” said Ryan Kelly, senior vice president, FedEx Supply Chain. “Online shoppers show deep-rooted loyalty to brands with fast shipments, easy returns, positive customer service experiences and flexible delivery options.”
The system works in a very similar fashion to that of Amazon: Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), though without Prime membership benefits for buyers. According to Business Insider, FedEx’s offering could serve as a good alternative for sellers loathe to reveals their sales number to Amazon. “Amazon connects them with customers, but it also competes with these sellers” commented CNN Money‘s Matt McFarland. “Amazon can see which products are selling best, and start to sell those products itself.”

Handheld announces new ‘rugged’ Algiz 8X tablet

The Handheld Group, manufacturer of tough mobile computers, handhelds and tablets, has announced a new product to join its range – the Algiz 8X tablet.
The Algiz 8X offers communication features such as LTE and dual-band WLAN, along with an eight-inch ultra-bright chemically strengthened projective capacitive touchscreen built for outdoor use. With glove mode or rain mode enable, the tablet can operate in changing weather.
Handheld reports that the ‘compact’ and ‘rugged’ Algiz 8X has been put through exhaustive testing, including an impact test in which a 64-gram steel ball was dropped on the screen 10 times from a height of 1.2 metres.
“We’ve pushed the limits of modern field technology with this product, fulfilling customers’ needs for powerful computing, mobility, outstanding screen performance and battery life. We made no compromises,” said Johan Hed, Director of Product Management at Handheld.
The Algiz 8X comes standard with Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB, and an optional active capacitive stylus. LAN port, COM port and barcode scanner options are available and custom features and electronics can be added using a ‘backpack’ system.
The Algiz 8X is available from March.

Amazon quietly hiring delivery workers for QLD venture

E-commerce giant Amazon has been recruiting workers in Queensland to join a new, and as-yet-unannounced, team in Australia since early 2016. The company has remained quiet about its ambitions for entering Australia, while it has offered cloud computing services for several years and maintains a domain with orders handled overseas, speculation about its apparent plans to enter has centred on unease for retailers currently operating in the country.
The jobs postings advertise positions working with a local arm of the company’s AmazonFresh grocery business. At present, there are 12 roles listed for the Brisbane-based venture, including several software development positions, down from over 100 roles advertised when news outlet Business Insider discovered the recruitment campaign this week.
Of the jobs found by Business Insider, the earliest posting appeared to have been put up as early as February 2016, though the recruitment drive appears to have been ramped-up in September and October.
“As a member of a team focused on innovation, you will responsible for building a system to support a new and confidential AmazonFresh initiative that will help revolutionise the grocery shopping experience,” said one now-removed listing for a software development engineer, with several of the listings calling for “experience taking a project from inception through launch.”
AmazonFresh has been available in the US since 2007 for US$14.99 per month for Amazon Prime members, and to-date it has only been launched in one other location, London, where it costs £6.99 for Prime members.
No Amazon Prime membership is currently available to Australia-based users of the site, though they have been able to subscribe to Prime Video since a surprise local launch in November 2016. The New Daily and the Australian Financial Review expect Amazon to launch the full gamut of its services – Prime, Prime Now and PrimeFresh – in late 2017, certainly no later than early 2018.

McCain to move into state-of-the-art robotic cold storage facility in Melbourne

McCain Foods Australia today announced a contract agreement with cold storage provider NewCold.
NewCold’s will manage the storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products at the storage provider’s new warehouse in Truganina, Melbourne, as part of a 10-year agreement commencing in July 2017.
Construction has significantly advanced on the automated facility, which will consist of an integrated system combining automated, state-of-the-art pallet handling systems, using in-house warehouse and control software developed by parent Dutch cold storage innovator, NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics.
Taso Kourou, Supply Chain Director at McCain Foods ANZ stated that the facility upgrade will drastically improve logistics capabilities, meeting the needs of local and international customers, demanding improved efficiency from production to distribution of frozen products. “The storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products in the new automated facility will give us a more stable temperature regime and highly accurate stock control,” he said.
Louis Wolthers, Regional President for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India & China at McCain Food said that the McCain team is keen to see the outcomes of the new agreement take effect. “From a sustainability perspective, through the use of the warehouses’ highly controlled in-and-outflows combined with efficient cooling equipment, energy usage per pallet stored is up to 50 per cent lower compared to a conventional storage option,” he said.
The warehouse’s unmanned stacker cranes, conveyors and automated truck unloading systems will handle receipt, storage and retrieval of palletised products, all together dealing with more than 11,000 pallet movements per day.

Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association seeks Executive Officer

Following the resignation in late 2016 of Russell Sturzaker, the Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association of Australia Ltd (RWTA) is on the lookout for a new Executive Officer.
Chairman David O’Brien thanked Sturzaker for his work on the association’s website, events and fundraising, and wished him well for the future. “On behalf of the RWTA Board and all members and associate members of the RWTA, I wish to thank Russell for his professionalism, thoroughness and dedication during his two-year tenure with the Association,” he said.
The search for a replacement is ongoing, and O’Brien expects the position to be filled early this year.

Amazon’s robot workforce grows by 50 per cent

The e-commerce giant Amazon has announced that it ‘employed’ 45,000 robots in 20 of its fulfilment centres during the 2016 holiday season, up from the 30,000 working alongside 230,000 human colleagues during the 2015 holiday season.
The amount of human workers employed in the last holiday season is to be announced at the company’s earning calls in early 2017.
The Seattle Times noted that the company’s 2016 robot workforce has a bigger ‘headcount’ than the armed forces of the Netherlands.
The robots in question are Kiva Robots, made by the robotics firm bought by Amazon in 2012, Kiva Systems.

Amazon files patent for flying warehouse

Amazon has reportedly filed a patent for a flying warehouse to support the company’s drone delivery technology, CNBC reported at the end of December.
Referring to a patent filing from April 2016 that was not publicised by Amazon at the time, CNBC said the US e-commerce giant was picturing the airborne fulfilment centre (AFC) to float at an altitude of 45,000 feet (ca. 13,000m) – much like an airship or blimp.
Drones would be able to access the flying warehouse to carry out local deliveries within minutes, for example to supply food or merchandise to fans at a stadium, CNBC reported.
“When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down and deliver the package. Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land,” CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal reported.
“Amazon’s filing explains that the blimp would remain in the air and be refueled and replenished using a shuttle. This could be a smaller aircraft capable of docking onto the AFC and unloading products as well as fuel.”

Whether or not the plan is feasible may be up for debate, though, according to US logistics news service Heavy Duty Trucking. “The logistics of placing a large blimp thousands of feet above a populated area for long periods of time would require regulatory approval, not to mention the fact that Amazon’s drone delivery system is still in its infancy.”
In July, Amazon had already caused headlines with a patent that revealed it was thinking about using tall buildings and structures such as lampposts or churches as docking stations for drones to recharge.
Another patent described how drones would ‘talk’ to each other to plan routes and communicate.
In the UK, Amazon officially delivered its first package by drone in December, and the company said that it expected to expand trials in the near future.

Smart machine technology to go mainstream by 2021

Smart machines, comprising artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, machine learning and deep learning, are to go mainstream by 2021, with 30 per cent adoption by large companies, according to US research firm Gartner, Inc.
“The use of smart machines by enterprises can be transformative and disruption,” said Susan Tan, Research Vice President, Gartner. “Smart machines will profoundly change the way work is done and how value is created. For service providers, smart machines represent opportunities to help enterprises assess, select, implement, change and adapt talent, and for IT and business processes, the opportunity to successfully adopt smart machines for business benefits.”
Gartner predicts spending on smart machine consulting and system integration (C&SI) services to increase from $451 million in 2016 to almost $29 billion by 2021, with the main window for technology adoption occurring between 2020 and 2025. “Enterprises’ investments into smart machines will span more than a decade, implying that the smart machine consulting and system integration (C&SI) service market will be a long-term one,” the company wrote.

ALC partners with Logistics & Materials Handling magazine for 2017 Forum

Logistics & Materials Handling (L&MH) has been selected as official media partner for the 2017 Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Forum.
The event will focus on issues identified in the ALC’s election priorities document ‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’.
A key recommendation in the document, the development of a national freight and supply chain strategy, was embraced by Infrastructure Australia in its Australian Infrastructure plan in February 2016, and endorsed by the Federal Government in November 2016.
Following on from the success, leaders and key policy makers in the Australian logistics industry will gather at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 7–9 March 2017 to discuss and debate the issues that will shape the nation’s supply chain strategy in 2017.
According to the ALC, L&MH has been selected for its role as a thought leader in the Australian logistics and supply chain scene. According to publisher, John Murphy of Prime Creative Media, the selection goes hand in hand with a planned relaunch of the title in 2017.
“Along with an increased print run to six editions per year, the new-look L&MH will keep you informed, interested and involved with more curated news, thought leadership and hands-on industry insight,” he said.
“On the back of that commitment to the growth of the logistics industry, we are especially proud to have been selected as the media partner for the 2017 ALC Forum.
“Working alongside the ALC, the peak body representing the nation’s freight transporter and logistics supply chain industries, will enable L&MH to benefit from the expertise of the country’s premier minds on logistics, and give the ALC a platform to celebrate industry best practice.”

Logistics specialist expands with 22,000sqm warehouse lease

CEVA Logistics (Ceva) has further expanded its presence in West Park Industrial Estate in Truganina, Victoria by leasing two new premises from Frasers Property Australia’s.
The company entered into a three-year lease for two facilities with a total lettable area of 22,840 sqm. Warehouse A comprises 10,892 sqm including a 10,593 sqm warehouse and 301 sqm office. Warehouse B includes a 11,948 sqm building comprising 11,647 sqm warehouse and 301 sqm office.
Key features of both facilities include 120 car spaces, 10 metre warehouse, 35-metre wide awnings and eight recessed loading docks. Ceva will manage a contract for Toyota in these facilities and the leases will commence this month.
Earlier this year, Ceva secured another automotive contract with Nissan, Infiniti and Renault, pre-committing to lease another 23,035 sqm office and warehouse space on Efficient Drive in West Park Industrial Estate. This facility will be completed in the first quarter of 2017.
Combined with Ceva’s super site which was completed in July 2016, the company has committed to 136,073 sq m in West Park Industrial Estate.
Anthony Maugeri, General Manager Southern Region C&I for Frasers Property comments, “We are delighted with current inquiry levels in West Park Industrial Park and equally pleased that Ceva has committed in this estate for the third time in 18 months. Truganina is one of the fastest growing industrial precincts in Australia and continues to attract major Australian transport and logistics businesses.

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