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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- July 10, 2014 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of July 10, 2014

Walmart Racing to Energize Sales; Just a Few Drayage Truckers on Strike in LA, but Impact Could be Large; US Oil Production Continues Amazing Run; The Self-Driving Trucks Really are Coming


$500 Million

The amount that Walmart invested in ecommerce initiatives in 2013, according to an article this week in the Wall Street Journal. That includes building three new efulfillment centers and paying 1000 employees at its ecommerce think tank and R&D center in Silicon Valley. It plans to invest another $150 million in ecommerce this year. It is also opening up dozens of new much smaller sized outlets, such as Walmart Express. The action comes as new CEO Doug McMillon is pushing his executives fast and furious to change and innovate, given recent struggles at the company, which has seen US same store sales growth fall for five straight quarters. Among Walmart's challenges: to achieve just 1% in sales growth, the giant must raise sales by $5 billion. The law of large numbers applies to Walmart too.




Number of drayage drivers that walked off the job this week at the ports of LA and Long Beach, complaining of unfair policies at three short-haul trucking companies. That's a tiny fraction of the some 12,000 drayage drivers said to be working the ports. But as we reported this week, the real game here is to have independent truckers be designated as employees of the trucking companies, which would require them to join the union in unionized carriers, or to be more easily organized in non-union shops. The walk off was orchestrated and supported by the Teamsters union. A new law in New York this year will change the status of many independents in that state. The numbers may be small here in this action, but the stakes are high - costs may rise as much as 30% for a carrier from such a change from independent to unionized.


Year by which Daimler says its self-driving trucks might be ready for the road, after a successful test along a closed stretch of the Autobahn in Germany last week. What Daimler calls the "Highway Pilot"uses a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communication via Wi-Fi (with a range of 1,640 feet), lateral radar on both sides of the truck (with a range of 197 feet) and full range (820 feet) and short-range (230 feet) radar mounted on the front of the truck. The truck also uses a front stereo camera, mounted just under its windshield. The plan is to have a driver in the car for emergencies - but that driver will be wirelessly working on office-type tasks, else much of the potential savings from the technology would be lost. The self-driving trucks will be here very soon.


11 Million

Average number of barrels of oil the US produced per day in the first quarter, according to a report this week by Bank of America. With planned output expected to increase as the year proceeds, the US is almost certain to be the world's largest oil producer again this year, after receiving that rank in 2013, as the fracking revolution continues on. Amazing. "If the U.S. didn't have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable," the report said. The US Energy Information Administration says US oil production will peak in 2019 and then plateau, though it is not clear why.

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