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May 09, 2012

M-commerce fuels next generation fulfilment systems for last mile

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In April 2011, according to IMRG, over £5.2 billion was spent online in the UK alone, which was a 19 percent increase from the previous year. Forrester Research expects this upward trend to continue with predicted total sales through e-commerce across Europe reported to be increasing by 16% year on year until at least 2016. In particular, Forrester forecast accelerated growth among countries like Italy and Spain, which have been slower to embrace online shopping than their Northern European neighbours. Within mature e-commerce markets like the UK, in addition to greater total volumes of spending, the actual amounts being spent are higher, with the same study reporting an average order value of £174 in the UK
 
Sales volumes through m-commerce channels are also expanding rapidly with purchases in the UK, France and Germany combined expected to reach £9.1 billion this year, over 50% higher than the total spent in 2011. This is based on findings published by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and Kelkoo, which predict that Britain will be by far the biggest market in Europe for mobile commerce.
 
As e-commerce and m-commerce have continued to rise in importance, experts have stopped focusing so heavily on multichannel and now moved on to talk about an omnichannel world. What's the difference you might ask? It's a subtle one, because whereas multichannel describes the way retailers have launched a variety of business operations to support different distribution channels, these may not be as joined up a customer might expect. In an omnichannel business, the operations are completely integrated, which means a customer can literally hop between different sales channels and get the same seamless service whether they are buying in a store, online, from a phone, kiosk or a franchise.
 
With electronic commerce being such big business, getting fulfilment right has become more important than ever. In the warehouse, this means fundamentals like picking operations need to be streamlined, because picking single orders is time consuming and therefore expensive. The largest retailers may look to full automation to reduce their cost base but this isn't usually an option for small to mid sized retailers who cannot justify the capital outlay and need more flexibility. Here systems like voice technology have proved their worth as a way to simultaneously cope with traditional bulk orders going onto retail outlets and single item e-commerce sales.
 
One area that has seen perhaps the biggest technological improvements is last mile fulfilment. Typically performed by a third party service provider, this is a critical aspect of the overall sale - and indeed overall brand experience - to get right, especially as the value of individual orders has increased beyond the £150 mark.
 
Now that consumers are spending more online, they expect to be able to track items purchased right through the delivery chain as a standard offering. Many logistics operators offer real time traceability as part of their proof of delivery (POD) service. There is also a new breed of advanced electronic POD systems coming onto the market, such as the next generation 'ecoPOD' system, which have extended the entry level functionality to notify the sender within 2 hours of a delivery being due and providing a full audit trail from initial collection to final delivery point. Using GPS tracking capability, advanced proof of delivery systems incorporate additional features that support achieving operational and sustainability priorities like lower costs and reduced carbon footprint.
 
Apart from improving the customer experience as goods are received, next generation proof of delivery systems like the ecoPOD can also make a significant contribution to reducing the cost of fulfilment provision itself. As fully paperless systems, they remove all unnecessary administration and re-keying of information, which, in addition to eliminating errors, allows the overall number of deliveries that can potentially be made in a day to be increased, improving efficiency and profitability for the service provider.
 
In line with the rise in m-commerce transactions, recent innovations in the development of new mobile payment gateways are now being incorporated into next generation proof of delivery systems. So as well as providing irrefutable evidence that an item has been safely received, payments can also be taken immediately at the point of delivery, or alternatively, refunds issued instantly, upon collection. Offering a means for fulfilment service providers to diversify into profitable new business areas with the provision of value added services, these clever new payment gateways are highly secure and include integrated chip and PIN verification from a single device.
 
Apart from the positive impact on business competitiveness, having the ability to incorporate payment on delivery/refund on collection functionality has a further beneficial effect on cash flow, as cash-to-cash accounting cycles are reduced due to better visibility of the delivery cycle. And this further reinforces the more intangible benefits of proof of delivery systems, which foster deeper trust between the buyer and seller through service excellence and transparency of information.
 
Improving efficiency and saving money are obvious priorities when implementing proof of delivery systems, but technologies like ecoPOD are also making an important contribution to overall carbon footprint reduction within logistics as a whole. In a recent study conducted by Zetes, driver behaviour monitoring through its POD system resulted in customers achieving a 40% reduction to operating costs through more efficient vehicle management, improved driver route optimisation and reduced fuel consumption.
 
Just as proof of delivery solutions are advancing both in terms of the breadth of functionality offered and their contribution to carbon footprint reduction, they are also evolving in terms of the way they are being delivered. The current unstable economic climate has heightened awareness of the need for careful risk management. For many businesses, their continued success requires a careful balancing act between the need to invest in new technology to improve competitive advantage and the inherent risks capital expenditure brings. Managing cash flow and preserving working capital are strategic priorities and technology providers need to adapt accordingly to give users the flexibility they require. A new breed of suppliers are offering fulfilment solutions like voice picking and proof of delivery as a fully managed service.
 
This approach completely removes any risk associated with the investment by allowing companies to effectively spread the cost as a fixed term commitment. In many cases, such initiatives include the provision of the entire solution - including latest handheld devices, next generation proof of delivery software and ongoing support and device management – as a monthly fee which is accounted for as ongoing 'opex' rather than one off 'capex'. It is proving highly attractive for businesses looking for ways to give their service provision an edge, whilst at the same time, giving a boost to productivity.
 
TNT's Benelux operation provides an interesting example to highlight how adopting a proof of delivery system as a managed service made better financial sense. Its customers expect to be able to check the status of deliveries at any time.  TNT regards proof of delivery as essential and the only way to really distinguish their brand from the competition, by maintaining the highest service levels and offering customers full transparency on the status of their deliveries.
 
However TNT wanted to avoid having ownership of the responsibility for ensuring the availability of the scanners. Their calculations showed that organising stocks, maintenance, repairs and spare parts amounted to a time-consuming and burdensome activity. As an alternative, Zetes offered TNT the latest handheld devices and an advanced proof of delivery system based on a managed service contract to provide 620 scanners in perfect working order at all times, for a fixed price each month. The contract guaranteed full service uptime for TNT, because any driver reporting to the warehouse with a faulty scanner receives a fully operational device within thirty minutes. Other companies across Europe are following suit with Nightline, Ireland's biggest independent fulfilment provider also investing almost 1 million Euros in an advanced proof of delivery solution based on a monthly, managed service.
 
For companies looking for ways to ensure they retain their competitive edge, service excellence is everything. The next generation of proof of delivery systems available allow users the ability to simultaneously achieve this whilst innovating with new services like mobile payment and balance the risks of their investments in technology.

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Jan 06, 2016

Assemblymember Frazier release bold transportation funding package today

 Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Transportation, unveiled legislation to provide much-needed transportation funding for California. 

AB 1591 will raise over $7 billion annually and fund two major initiatives: trade corridor improvements and road maintenance and rehabilitation. "California must invest in its trade corridors if we hope to develop and sustain economic vitality. Manufacturers and farmers want to be able to move their goods to market and AB 1591 will provide the investments we need to ensure that they can," stated Frazier. 

AB 1591 further answers the challenge Governor Brown made last year when he called upon the Legislature to provide $5.9 billion annually to fix state highways. According to Frazier, “You can’t put out half a fire. The funding proposals developed over the past year do not begin to sufficiently address our highway and bridge maintenance needs. Failure to adequately fund deferred maintenance is short-sighted and will leave our highways congested in gridlock.” 
Frazier spent the past seven months listening to the public, industry experts across the state, and his colleagues in order to develop a comprehensive plan to effectively tackle California’s transportation needs. AB 1591 looks to make these investments now, rather than costing us exponentially more in the long-run. 

“Anyone who travels on California’s roads or rides our buses and trains can attest to the dire need for significant investment in our state’s infrastructure,” said

Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). “I commend Assemblymember Frazier for his diligence in considering a wide variety of perspectives as he developed this proposal.” 

The revenue generated in Frazier’s plan is a portfolio approach drawing equitably from multiple sources. Key components of the transportation funding package include: 

•    Restoring revenue from weight fees imposed on large trucks to the State Highway Account. This revenue, nearly $1 billion, will be directed to improvements in the state's major freight corridors; 

•    Ensuring additional revenues generated are used to address road and bridge maintenance, rehabilitation, and, as appropriate, increases in capacity; 

•    Allocating cap and trade auction proceeds to transportation projects that ease congestion and therefore provide significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in trade corridors; 

•    Imposing moderate increases in gas tax, diesel tax, and vehicle registration. The state's aging infrastructure is degrading at an increasingly rapid pace. These funds will ensure existing assets are protected; 

•    Repaying outstanding transportation loans. These loans were made at a time when the General Fund was in crisis. That is no longer the case. These funds need to be returned to the transportation purpose for which they were intended; 

•    Increasing allocations to intercity rail and transit programs; 

•    Ensuring all vehicle owners pay to support the transportation infrastructure by imposing a nominal surcharge on electric vehicles; and 

•    Initiating proper oversight on highway expenditures. 

To contact Assemblymember Jim Frazier please visit his website at www.asmdc.org/frazier or call his District Offices at 707-399-3011 or 925-513-0411. 

 Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Transportation, unveiled legislation to provide much-needed transportation funding for California. 

Oct 01, 2016

Smartphones Speed Up Shipbuilding

Print Edition

Construction of two new day ferries at Ketchikan for the Alaska Marine Highway System is being aided these days by the use of smartphones on the shop floor, one of Vigor’s innovations to spede up and improve the efficiency of shipbuilding.

Vigor is under contract to deliver the two ferries, capable of carrying up to 300 passengers and 53 vehicles, in late 2018.

Up until earlier this year, no cell phones were allowed on the shop floor, but then along came the mobile app TRELLO, a web-based project management application that Vigor managers say is cutting down on the amount of time spent having work team meetings, identifying and making any needed changes, and planning ahead.

“We used to have a meeting of all supervisors at work stations, about what needs to be done from today up to an eight week planning horizon and make sticky notes for each day,” said Doug Ward, director of shipyard development for Vigor at Ketchikan.

“There would be notes from each craft and each team and it was very complex, to keep real time information on every work station.

“This application TRELLO replaces all those sticky notes, and is flattening out distribution of information,” he said. “Eventually we hope TRELLO will help us avoid so many daily meetings across the entire shipbuilding process.”

TRELLO was introduced to Vigor by its naval architects, Glosten, in Seattle. Young naval architects also introduced Vigor to another phone app that allows for redlining, making corrections to plans.

“It allows Vigor to download shop drawings to smartphones, and if workers come across an exception where pieces are not fitting according to plan, what used to take weeks to redline and get down to naval architects, can be done using the app.

“Now our supervisors and workers can stand on the  shop floor, look at the plan, take a photo and draw red lines on cellphone touch screens, and send it out across the entire ship production team, so everyone can see what the condition is, who is working on it, and what is coming up,” Ward said. “Some of these redline changes can be managed in just a few hours, rather than days.

“we are really looking at cost control and schedule control processes, he said.

Vigor is also doing more in the way of outfitting vessels sooner in the production schedule than most shipyards do, Ward said/

Most shipyards build the whole module and then begin outfitting it, but Vigor is using the unit construction approach. The unit, which is part of the module, is built upside down and then shipyard employees begin outfitting it with pipes and electric equipment, doing any necessary welding, and installing electric lights and insulation, plus a coat of paint before putting the unit into the module and installing the entire module aboard the ship.

“It’s speeding up the construction schedule at lot,” he said.

Most of the some 180 Vigor employees at the Ketchikan shipyard are Alaskans who were trained at the Ketchikan shipyard are Alaskans who were trained at that shipyard, Ward said. When Vigor first began operating the facility, which is the primary maintenance facility for AMHS vessels, they had to bring in contract workers, but over the last year those employees have been phased out in favor of Alaskans trained there, he said. According to a report on the economic impact of the Ketchikan shipyard prepared for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority by the McDowell Group, average wages paid by Vigor Alaska to shipyard workers last year was $60,685.

Other Ketchikan shipyard projects in process include mechanical work and painting of a small charter vessel and steel repairs, maintenance, and painting of the CN Aquatrain, a unique rail-marine barge service operated by Foss Maritime, said Al Turner, senior projects manager for Vigor at Ketchikan.

Print Edition

Construction of two new day ferries at Ketchikan for the Alaska Marine Highway System is being aided these days by the use of smartphones on the shop floor, one of Vigor’s innovations to spede up and improve the efficiency of shipbuilding.

Vigor is under contract to deliver the two ferries, capable of carrying up to 300 passengers and 53 vehicles, in late 2018.

May 03, 2016

Analyzing the economic case for an Inland Empire ‘port’: Guest commentary

Online Edition

 

In 2016, the huge and growing volume of cargo flowing through Southern California is requiring us to rethink how it can be moved efficiently. For this reason, the Port of Long Beach with the cooperation of the Port of Los Angeles has commissioned a detailed economic analysis of an “Inland Port” served by a dedicated train. Daily, the train would bring unsorted Inland Empire-bound containers to this facility to be sorted and delivered to local warehouses and cross-docks. It would carry empty containers and exports on its return.

 

This idea has been floated before. However, several factors now make its consideration very important. Imported volume at the ports will potentially reach a record high in 2016 with no end of growth in sight. This cargo is increasingly arriving on huge ships too large for even an expanded Panama Canal. Just one, the Benjamin Franklin, carries enough containers to line up from Santa Monica to beyond Santa Barbara.

 

The ocean carriers have formed alliances to better use their ship capacity, with cargo on any vessel coming from multiple partners. When a ship arrives, containers bound for any U.S. destination may be stacked all around our terminals and be lifted multiple times before leaving. Eventually, much of this cargo goes to the Inland Empire by truck for storage or processing.

 

To better process cargo, step one will be to work with cargo owners and ocean carriers to have cargo loaded not by port of destination but rather by major U.S. destination, with the Inland Empire the test case. Once a vessel arrives, the inland area’s cargo would be unloaded onto carts, directly towed to the dedicated train and loaded. Daily, the railroad would hook up the 250 cars and tow them to the Inland Port. Once there, the cargo would be unloaded and sorted. Trucks would pick it up and deliver it to inland warehouses or cross-docks. Outbound empties and cargo would be loaded onto the train and moved to the harbors. This process mainly will require changes in procedure rather than capital investment, except for the building of the Inland Port itself.

 

For this concept to succeed, the various players in the supply chain process must find it in their economic interest, hence the need for the economic analysis. It appears that the ocean carriers would benefit from the efficient unloading and turning around of their ships upon arrival. The terminal operators would appear to see greater speed in unloading ships, allowing them to handle more vessels as well as freeing up space in their yards. The harbors would gain the ability to handle ever more cargo traffic, plus faster speed of throughput and national competitiveness.

 

In moving cargo, the railroads should benefit as their costs from lifting containers multiple times would be reduced. They would also gain increased usage of their track capacity and the opening of a new line of business. Trucking companies should see elimination of wait time at port gates and the ability to handle more cargo in less time. Truck drivers should benefit by no longer idling at port gates, not driving through Los Angeles County’s traffic and handling more cargo runs in a day.

 

Companies that own the cargo being moved would benefit from faster and more reliable movement of their cargo and more frequent deliveries to their warehouses. Also, their empties could be delivered in the Inland Empire for return to the ports. U.S. exporters could deliver cargo in the Inland Empire and not have to see it driven through Los Angeles traffic.

 

Certainly, the environment would be a primary beneficiary as there would be a steep decline in the vehicle miles traveled by heavy duty trucks moving from the Inland Empire to the harbors and trucks idling at port gates. Southern California traffic would be cut, with trucks and cars spending less time in stop-and-go traffic.

 

So why hasn’t this all been done by now? To date, the detailed economic case showing how each of the interested parties would benefit from this reorganization of the goods flow has not been studied. If the analysis we have commissioned is successful, huge potential changes in cargo movement could be on the horizon.

 

 

Online Edition

 

In 2016, the huge and growing volume of cargo flowing through Southern California is requiring us to rethink how it can be moved efficiently. For this reason, the Port of Long Beach with the cooperation of the Port of Los Angeles has commissioned a detailed economic analysis of an “Inland Port” served by a dedicated train. Daily, the train would bring unsorted Inland Empire-bound containers to this facility to be sorted and delivered to local warehouses and cross-docks. It would carry empty containers and exports on its return.

 

Sep 01, 2014

Chinese Port Truckers Strike Over Pay, Working Conditions

Print edition

The U.S. is hardly the only place where drayage truck drivers are frustrated with what they say is a lack of wage increases and tough working conditions. In Ningbo, China, truck drivers’ demand for higher haulage rates bubbled into violence. After a week of strikes, drivers serving the port returned to work on Aug. 25. Ningbo-Zhoushan is the world’s sixth-largest container port and the third-busiest in China, handling nearly 1.5 million 20-foot containers a month. The labor action came in the midst of peak season, when ships headed to the U.S. are full and reports of proliferating about cargo booked at lower freight rates being left behind, or rolled, to subsequent sailings. It’s not known whether the drivers’ demand for better pay was successful, but the incident further shows that drayage in the U.S. and globally is one of the most volatile links in the supply chain.

Print edition

Oct 01, 2016

First Containership LNG Conversion

Print Edition

International classification society Bureau Veritas will class the world’s first conversion of a container ship to operate on LNG in order to meet Tier III of Marpol’s Annex 6 Germany’s Wessels Reederei, will have its MAN 8 L 48/60B engine converted to a 51/60 DF dual-fuel engine while a 500 cubic meter capacity LNG tank will be installed in the fore part of the vessel to supply fuel.

The conversion process will equired the replacement of the combustion chamber and associated systems, including water-cooling jacket, pistons, piston rings, injection components and cylinder head. In addition, the cylinder bore will be increased from 48cm to 51cm while new valve cams and a turbocharger rotor assembly will be added to allow for a change of ignition timing.

Tecnitas, the consulting arm bureau Veritas, will carry out risk analyses for both the use of LNG as fuel and LNG bunkering, and SMB naval Architects & Consultants will be involved in various aspects of the conversion process. The 1,036-TEU capacity ship is expected to start operating on LNG by early next year after which a number of other Wessels Reederei vessels may be similarly converted.

 

 

Print Edition

International classification society Bureau Veritas will class the world’s first conversion of a container ship to operate on LNG in order to meet Tier III of Marpol’s Annex 6 Germany’s Wessels Reederei, will have its MAN 8 L 48/60B engine converted to a 51/60 DF dual-fuel engine while a 500 cubic meter capacity LNG tank will be installed in the fore part of the vessel to supply fuel.

Oct 01, 2016

LA Green Omni Terminal Project

Print Edition

Burns & McDonnel of Kansas City, Missouri has been selected to provide engineering and overall project management services for the $27 million Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project being developed at the Port of Los Angeles in partnership with Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals. To showcase how sustainable, clean energy solutions can revolutionize marine terminals by integrating electric vehicles, including battery-powered drayage trucks, forklifts, and yard tractors, into terminal operations.

The terminal will also feature a 1-megwatt rooftop solar installation, backed by a battery storage system with 2.6 megawatt-hours of capacity, to provide a clean energy microgrid that will allow terminal operations to continue in the event of a widespread power outage. In addition, a ShoreCat Marine Exhaust Treatment System will be provided to capture exhaust emissions from the stacks of berthed ships.

The project, which is expected to be completed by mid 2017, is being funded in part by a $14.5 million grant from the California Air Resources Board as part of a wide-ranging effort to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants throughout the state. It is expected that the technological improvements at the terminal will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3,230 tons per year, diesel particulate matter by 0.6 tons per year, nitrogen oxides by 26 tons per year and reactive organic gases by 1.4 tons per year: the equivalent of removing 14,100 vehicles from Southern California roads and highways.

 

Print Edition

Burns & McDonnel of Kansas City, Missouri has been selected to provide engineering and overall project management services for the $27 million Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project being developed at the Port of Los Angeles in partnership with Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals. To showcase how sustainable, clean energy solutions can revolutionize marine terminals by integrating electric vehicles, including battery-powered drayage trucks, forklifts, and yard tractors, into terminal operations.

Feb 15, 2006

LNG suppliers promote benefits of alternative fuel trucks.

Feb 12, 2014

Trucking Association Calls for 24-Hour Terminal Operations

In an attempt to thin out local port traffic throughout the workday, the Harbor Trucking Association proposed opening terminals 24 hours a day instead of the constrained schedules in place. Currently, terminals are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., five days a week. Operating the terminals around the clock would dissuade trucks from blocking access roads at particular times, according to the HTA. However, terminal operators shot down the proposal citing the prohibiti

In an attempt to thin out local port traffic throughout the workday, the Harbor Trucking Association proposed opening terminals 24 hours a day instead of the constrained schedules in place. Currently, terminals are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., five days a week. Operating the terminals around the clock would dissuade trucks from blocking access roads at particular times, according to the HTA. However, terminal operators shot down the proposal citing the prohibiti

Feb 23, 2007

A delegation of congressional security experts visits federal agencies to