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The Top Supply Chain Stories in 2020 by Month Part 2


Refresh Your Memory of the Supply Chain Year that Was

Jan. 26, 2020
SCDigest Editorial Staff

In his First Thoughts column two weeks ago , SCDigest Editor Dan Gilmore summarized his view of the top 2 supply chain stories for each month of 2020. (See Top 2020 Supply Chain Stories by Month.)


Two compile that list, we started with a lot more that were left on the cutting room floor due to space reasons. Last week, we published the complete list for January through June  (See The Top Supply Chain Stories in 2020 by Month). This week, we finish the series with July through December.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


In December, The FAA relaxes some rules on commercial drone deliveries, mostly notably ending the current ban on drones flying over people, changes would could at last spur real progress in the sector.

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The US ends its $800.00 threshold under which imported goods could pass into the US tax-free, and for which the amount of information that was required for customs agents monitoring incoming shipments for counterfeit goods, consumer-safety violations and other illegal behavior was also limited. Since the original law was passed, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of low-value shipment coming into the US under the tax-free rule, and many also avoided new US tariffs.

A study by researchers at the University of Central Arkansas estimates that 300,000 US truck drivers will be taken off the road if the government uses hair testing to look for drug use. The elimination of that many drivers would have a huge impact on the on-going driver shortage, despite the good of eliminating drug using drivers. It would also represent almost 10% of the total driver population. Many large carriers already use hair testing, but few smaller ones do.


MHI announces it has acquired the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). MHI plans to operate WERC as a division of MHI. WERC was founded in 1977, but was struggling financially in recent years, especially with its conference in April cancelled due to the virus. The move will support MHI's clear desire to build more of a presence with individual logistics professionals beyond the materials handling companies that make up its membership currently.

State-owned China Railway reports that a total of 1,232 trains were dispatched from various Chinese cities to European destinations in July. That was the highest monthly figure ever, and an increase of 68% year-over-year, as volumes continue to grow rapidly.

Amazon reports sales revenue in Q2 of $88.9 billion, up an incredible 40.2% versus 2019. On-line stores only saw even faster growth, up 48% globally.

Profits were strong, with net income of $5.2 billion versus $2.6 billion in Q2 2019. That profit growth came despite some $4 billion in coronavirus related spending in the quarter.


Bloomberg report that Amazon plans to open 1,000 or even more small delivery hubs in cities and suburbs all over the country. The facilities will be mini-fulfilment centers, and serve as what Amazon calls "delivery stations," where its own local delivery drivers come to pick up their deliveries for the day.

Eventually the number these local facilities could rise to as many as 1,500, as Amazon aims to move inventory closer to customers.

Amid soaring rates for container shipping, reports are that Chinese government officials are pressuring the ocean carriers to put a ceiling on rates and end cancelled sailings, concerned rising shipping costs will hurt exports. Maersk says it will bring back voided sailings in October – but rates keep rising anyway.



Loblaw, Canada's largest grocery chain, sends letter to many of its largest suppliers that it would deduct 1.2% from its invoice payments "We're asking for your help" to offset rising operations and IT costs, reads one version of the letter. It turns out Walmart Canada actually started the trend. In July, the retailer imposed the fees of 1.25% on the cost of goods sold to the retailers, plus an extra 5% on ecommerce sales.

Amazon said it will attempt to hire 100,000 temp workers for this year's peak season in the US and Canada. That makes it the fourth hiring spree Amazon has announced for the United States this year. Amazon has already announced 100,000 and 75,000 new fulfillment jobs in March and April, respectively, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. In September, the company said it would fill 100,000 additional permanent jobs.

Procter & Gamble shareholders overwhelmingly approved a resolution put forward by Green Century Equity Fund that calls on the company to report on how and whether it can eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from its supply chain. That despite management's opposition to the measure.

(See More Below)





In somewhat surprising news, supply chain design software and analytics vendor LLamasoft is acquired for $1.5 billion by procurement software provider Coupa.

Reports that UPS has stopped picking up parcels for at least six retailers that have exceeded their volume forecasts. The retailers include Gap, Nike, LL Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg, and Macy's, and offers evidence soaring ecommerce order are stretching the networks of parcel carriers to the limit and likely beyond.

Walmart announces an end to its use of 500 in-store robots from Bossa Nova that autonomously moved up and down aisles looking for empty locations that needed replenishment and doing price checks using its on-board imaging system. It turned out, Walmart said, that the mobile robots weren't that much better than humans for the job.


Logistics giant XPO says it will split itself in two, one focused on its trucking and brokerage businesses, the other on its third-party logistics operations

Walmart says it is removing the $35 free shipping order minimum on its annual subscription service, Walmart Plus. The new policy takes effect on December 4th, and it means all Walmart Plus members will receive free next-day and two-day shipping on items ordered from Walmart's website, regardless of the size of their order.

The change is a clear attempt to better compete with Amazon Prime, the subscription service on which Walmart Plus is based.

The FAA relaxes some rules on commercial drone deliveries, mostly notably ending the current ban on drones flying over people, changes would could at last spur real progress in the sector.

What would you add to our list of top stories of 2020? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.







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