Supply Chain by the Numbers

- March 21, 2013

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of March 21, 2013

Rails Latest to Look Hard at Nat Gas; Showdown at HOS OK Corral; Baxter the Robot Starting to Get a Little Love; On-Line Grocery Delivery Heats Up at Sainsbury's


$1 Million


Approximate cost to retrofit an existing locomotive to use natural gas as a fuel and add a special LNG tank car, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. That number comes after news that the BNSF railroad will be piloting natural gas trucks (probably using a partial mix with traditional diesel fuel ) sometime this fall, as the other major rail carriers also express interest. There could be significant financial and environmental benefits from such a move - but there are major challenges to seeing it happen. See Is it Time for Natural Gas-Powered Trains Too?




The amount by which giant truckload carrier Schneider National said it would have to raise driver wages by to keep them whole from an income perspective if the new Hours of Service rules scheduled to take effect July 1 are implemented as scheduled. That estimate was made in testimony by a Schneider executive to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2011, but we repeat it here as testimony began last week at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the suit by the American Trucking Associations to block the rules. Schneider said drivers would lose 5% or more miles driven per week.


Approximate number of inbound inquiries that Rethink Robotics has received regarding its new age Baxter robot that was released last September, according to a company spokesperson upon an inquiry from SCDigest. The company is mum on the total number of sales of the robot, designed to be very safe, controlled with zero programming, inexpensive ($25,000 or so) and capable of doing basic, repeatable tasks, such as sorting items or placing them in a box, but our recent interview with company executive Mitch Rosenberg leads us to believe it has a few dozen of these machines in the field. The K'Nex toy company is one customer.



Growth in on-line sales last year at UK retailer Sainsbury's, not surprising - except the company is primarily a grocery chain, whereas on-line grocery sales in the US have largely been a flop. The company web site says you can schedule delivery in one hour time slots seven days per week, and that the service covers 88% of the country. The minimum order for the service is £25s; delivery charges are between £3 to £7 depending on order size and delivery distance, but delivery is free if the order is over £100 and the order is placed Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Drivers will in most cases take the order all the way into the kitchen - and are not permitted to accept tips.