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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Aug. 27, 2020 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Aug. 27, 2020

American Eagle Ups Bet on Distrbution Robots; Walmart Sees Major Progress in Supply Chain CO2; July Container Volumes at US Ports Show Mixed Economy; More than Half of San Francisco Storefronts Closed



That is how many piece-picking robots apparel retailer American Eagle is adding at its main US distribution centers, after piloting a small number of robots before that. "During non-Covid times, if demand grew by 50% I would go hire 300 more people," Shekar Natarajan, senior vice president of global inventory and supply chain logistics for the company, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Natarajan added thar "It's really tough because you're also trying to make sure you're keeping the associates safe. You cannot actually bring in 1,000 to 2,000 untrained people into the distribution facility and maintain safe working conditions." As in many other areas, the pandemic is simply accelerating existing trend, in this case the growth of robot adoption of all sorts in distribution.


239 Million

That is how many metric tons of greenhouse gases Walmart has eliminated from its extended supply chain in the past three years, which the world's largest retailer says puts it on track to achieve its 2030 emissions goal. Walmart aims to reduce its cumulative carbon footprint by a billion tons by the end of the decade, and says it's trying to think more systemically about the impact it is having on the planet. To reach its goal, Walmart from the get-go said that means compelling suppliers to rethink their operations, since about 95% of Walmart's emissions come not from its own operations but those of its supply chain. Walmart is putting pressure on suppliers to reduce CO2 emissions through using more clean energy and shifting toward sustainable product design and packaging. Walmart also expects to see its suppliers take on "a lot more ambition around agriculture and forests," said Kathleen McLaughlin, the company's chief sustainability officer, in an interview. Walmart says it reduced its own emissions by 7.7% between 2015 and 2018, not including any reductions by suppliers. The company has been focusing on decarbonizing its fleet of trucks, eliminating polluting refrigerants, and shifting to more sustainable packaging




That is the number of "twenty foot equivalent units, or TEU (a measure of ocean shipping container volumes) that were processed in July at the port of Long Beach, an increase of 21% from container traffic at the port handled in the same month in 2919. However, the port of Los Angeles, the busiest in the US, saw July container volumes fall 6.1%, while ports in Seattle and Tacoma in Washington saw combined July volumes drop 17.2%, while the Port of Virginia reported its July TEUs dropped 16.7% year-over-year. So, a mixed bag overall, with at best mixed signals at best or more accurately negatives indicators on the global and US economy, as the container volumes are at least in most cases better than that seen in the Spring. "The global pandemic and the trade war between the U.S. and China have unleashed unprecedented impacts to our gateway," said John Wolfe, CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which manages operations at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.




Tragically, that is the percent of San Francisco storefronts that are currently closed as a result of the virus pandemic, according to a new survey by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "The survey showed only 46% of storefront businesses in San Francisco that were open at the beginning of the pandemic are still operating," Jay Cheng, a spokesman o Chamber for the Commerce, told a local television station. Cheng said that means 1,200 stores are open and 1,300 have closed in the downtown area. San Francisco, however, is hardly the only large city with similar challenges. More than 2,800 businesses in New York City have permanently closed since March 1, according to data from the Yelp web site. When the pandemic eventually subsides, roughly one-third of the city's 240,000 small businesses will never reopen, according to a report by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group. So far, those businesses have shed 520,000 jobs. Major cities are in many cases simply being hollowed out, in business and demographic changes that reverse earlier trends – and the priority of building fulfillment capabilities in urban markets.

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