Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Nov. 30, 2017 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Nov. 30, 2017

Store Traffic Down, On-Line Up Big So Far; Oil Prices Creeping Up on Strong Economy; US Taking Action Against Low Price Aluminum Imports from China; Tesla Truck Battery - Reality or Not?



That was the decline in traffic at traditional brick and mortar US retailers oven the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to an estimate by the retail Industry analysts at RetailNext. Meanwhile, Adobe Systems estimated on-line sales increased a sharp 18% over the period, as the shifts that have upended retail supply chains in recent years are again on stark display this Christmas season. The change is hitting supply chains in new ways this year, the Wall Street Journal reported this week, with many retailers looking to more aggressively calibrate the stocking and pricing of goods both on-line and in stores. For example, Walmart offered more electronics and bulky toys on-line that customers want shipped to homes while filling store shelves with low-price deals that customers prefer buying immediately or are unprofitable to ship. The strategy is part of an ongoing adjustment that will reshape retail supply chains even as sales patterns change under ecommerce.





That is the value of imported sheet aluminum that is imported annually into the US from China, and which may be subject to duties and tariffs, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used the powers of his department this week for the first time in 20 years to initiate anti-dumping duty and countervailing duty cases sgsiny China. According to Ross, there is available evidence that indicates Chinese producers are selling aluminum sheet in the US at prices that are less than fair value and that the Chinese government is providing unfair subsidies to producers of aluminum sheet. "We have available evidence that also indicates US producers of aluminum sheet are suffering injury caused by these imports," Ross said. While it will take several months for penalties to be determined, China will likely react strongly to the US move, with this among other US government actions potentially starting a trade war, for better or worse.



That is the rise in the price of West Texas Intermediate crude from a recent low in June, amid resurgent global economic growth and forecasts of growing oil demand, at least in the short term. That put the price near $60 per barrel, and at levels not seen since mid-2015. It also has suppliers brimming with confidence. And carriers across modes are feeling the impact. In the US, average diesel prices are nearing $3.00 a gallon, their highest level since January 2015. Container shipping carrier CMA CGM reported this week its bunker fuel bill in the third quarter soared 26% to $631 million. Like energy providers, freight carriers believe customers can absorb the higher prices as long as underlying demand remains strong.



That's how many pounds a battery would have to weigh given current technology to provide enough power for a heavy duty truck to complete a full day's driving at highway speeds. That according to Julie Furber, executive director of electrification business development at engine maker Cummins. The cost of such as battery would also be huge – maybe $180,000, according to battery experts Venkat Viswanathan and Shashank Sripad. All that in reaction to Telsa’s sort of release of its new electric semi tractor, which will come in models that can go 300 and 500 miles on a single charge, Tesla says, when they are released in 2019. But few details on the batteries or a promised fast charging system were released, leading some to speculate Tesla is simply better the technology will be there in two years to make its promises a reality.