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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Sept. 22, 2016 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Sept. 22, 2016

Amazon's Assault on the Apparel Market; Truckload and Intermodal Rates Continue to Fall; XPO Logistics Facing Multiple Union Drives; Telsa Car Hacked on Highway



Incredibly, that is the share of the entire US apparel market that Bloomberg, in part based on analysis from Morgan Stanley, estimates will have by the year 2020. That compares with just under 7% in 2015, meaning Amazon is expected to almost triple its share in five years. Amazon is already by far the leader in apparel sales on-line, with 2015 sales of $16.3 billion. That's more than the combined on-line sales of its five largest clothing competitors - Macy's, Nordstrom, Kohl's, and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands. Amazon is also number 4 in terms of apparel sales across all US retailers, trailing only TJX, Macy's and number 1 Walmart (which had almost $24 billion in US apparel sales last year). But if Amazon reaches even half of the growth rate Bloomberg suggests, it will fly by Walmart and become number 1 total apparel sales in just a few years. Is there any stopping Amazon?




That's how many consecutive months that the Cass Linehaul Index, which measures over the road US truckload rates before fuel surcharges and other accessorials, has now fallen through August. That August number, released by Cass earlier this week, showed rates were down 2.8% year over year, after decreases of 1.8% and 1.6% in June and July respectively. Before this recent stretch of year-over-year declines began in March, truckload rates had not declined for a single month since May of 2010. Meanwhile, the Cass Intermodal Index, measuring all-in per mile intermodal costs, continued its downward slide, falling another 2.0% year over year in August after declines of 1.5% and 2.4% in June and July. More incredibly, that makes 20 straight months of year-over-year intermodal rate declines. What's happening? Greatly simplifying, truckload volumes have been weak while capacity has been modestly increasing, and dramatically lower fuel surcharge costs have caused more shippers to move freight from rail to truck.


That's how many LTL drivers at an XPO Logistics terminal in Aurora, IL that have filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board to force a union vote. XPO has grown rapidly in recent years, primarily from a slew of acquisitions, including Con-Way Freight, which had major LTL operations, including the Aurora terminal. The Teamsters had sought to organize Con-Way for many years with mixed results, winning votes in a handful of locations but losing votes in others. With XPO's increased size and profile, it has become a target for a variety of unionization efforts over the past two years. 125 workers at XPO's warehouse in North Haven, Conn have also filed petitions with the NLRB to seek union representation. The drives follow recent moves by the Teamsters to organize XPO employees in Laredo, TX and Vernon, CA. Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters freight division, said that first Con-Way, and later XPO, had failed to deliver on promised wage increases and made cuts to driver benefits over the last two years. Union officials say organizing hundreds of XPO workers will make it harder for the company to lay off employee drivers and replace them with owner-operators who work as contractors. XPO says it has kept its promises to workers.



That how far away in miles a group of hackers from China's Keen Security Lab were from a Tesla car moving down the road when they were able to gain control to a number of the car's systems. Apparently working with Tesla on the project, the hackers remotely manipulated the brake system while the electronic car was on the move, adjusted the rear-view mirror while the driver was changing lanes, opened the trunk remotely, opened a car door without using a key, etc. All this was done by two Keen team members, one with a laptop, trailing a moving Tesla auto, the results of which have been captured in a YouTube video, and came after what Keen said was months of research. Tesla says it has now fixed the vulnerability in its cars' computer systems that will stop this particular hack, but there surely be new ones, a big concern in the area of connected cars and freight vehicles and indeed any Internet of Things device – such as home automation systems and potentially a pacemaker.

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