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Category: Global Supply Chain

Top Supply Chain Stories by Month 2022 - Complete List


Amid War and Soaring Inflation, These Stories Stood Out


Jan. 29, 2023
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Last week in our flagship newsletter, SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore offered his list of the top supply chain stories by month. But due to space limitions of the newsletter format, Gilmore listed just one or at most two top stories per month.


But more than that caught our eye last year, so as promised here we have our complete list.


We hope you enjoy.

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Among the oddest stories thus far in 2022, there is widespread reporting that brazen thieves are opening intermodal containers as freight trains slow down or stop as they approach depots in downtown LA. That also leaves a trash mess around the rails from items the thieves don't want.


The queue of ships waiting to unload at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reaches a record high of 105, even as peak season has ended weeks before.


News that Walmart is expanding its item-level RFID mandate to home goods, announced in a letter to its vendors. Walmart said it has been implementing item-level RFID tags on apparel over the past year and now is expanding that to home goods. That includes including kitchen and dining products, home decor, bath and shower, bedding, furniture, and storage and organization products. The memo also suggests more categories will have similar tagging mandates in the future.




Russia invades Ukraine late in the month, expecting rapid victory and welcoming crowds, only to find fierce resistance and military set backs. The war has a big impact, sending oil and natural gas prices higher as well as causing rising food and cooking oil prices as well and continus on.


4000 automobiles are destroyed as a cargo ship catches fire not far off the coast of Portugal on its way from Germany to the US, including Porsches, Volkswagens, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Audis. The value of those cars is estimated at $334.5 million by consulting firm Anderson Economic Group. The fire started in the hold and spread quickly, forcing the crew of 22 to abandon the ship via helicopter. A number of electric cars were on the ship, leading to speculation a lithium ion battery on car started the fire, or that it started from some other cause and the batteries accelerated the spread. The ship sinks when being towed to a port.


TuSimple announces its driverless truck technology has made seven totally automouss between Phoenix and Tuscon in recent weeks. It added that these trips were taken under various road conditions, including dense early-evening traffic and back-to-back runs on the same night. The tests also did not use teleoperation or traffic intervention along the way. The bigger news is that based on the success of these tests, rail carrier Union Pacific will use TuSimple equipped trucks to move freight between Tucson and Phoenix starting later in 2022, the company's first customer for autonomous trucking services.


Reports that apparel maket Untuckit has 177,0000 items that were supposed to arrive via ocean container by the end of December but that still hadn’t arrived by the beginning of March. When the winter garb does show up, the company plans to pack it away for next year – absorbing lost sales this year of about $15 million, as global shipping woes continue.


Amazon wins a second vote on unionization at a fulfillment center in Bessemmer, Alabama, with workers once again rejecting the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union - albeit by a smaller margin. This after a National Labor Relations Board official ordered a redo after Amazon won the first vote in 2021, citing alleged illegal behavior by Amazon leading up to the first vote.


However, Amazon FC workers on Staten Island won a bid to form a labor union after federal officials tallied votes at an FC there. If a union is ultimately formed, it will become the first and only Amazon FC to unionize anyere in the country. However, Amazon prevails in vote at an a sortation center in the same campus area, where workers  in early May voted down organizing with the same make-shift union that won the first vote.


News that 3PL company Performance Team will soon add 300 heavy duty electric trucks to its North America network. The e-trucks will come from Swedish company Einride. The trucks will be delivered between 2023 and 2025, and the order comes after Performance Team was acquired by ocean shipping giant Maersk Line in 2020. Maersk says this is the largest announced plan for electric truck deployment to date in the US.


Walmart announces that some first year truck drivers for its private fleet are now able to earn as much $110,000 per year, up from $87,000 before. Walmart also says a first year drivers can enjoy as many as 21 paid vacation days in 12 months. Other elements of Walmart’s program includes improved schedules that give drivers more time at home.


8000 luxury cars sitting at Belgium’s Port of Zeebrugge are stranded because they were headed to Russia. The cars, which include the latest Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes models, arrived from Asia in early April. But now the vehicles come under a ban against luxury goods exports to Russia as part of the sanctions stemming from the Ukraine invasion. In fact, there is a whole range of products stuck at Zeebrugge because of sanctions.



At its Q1 earnings call, Amazon says it now has too many logistics workers, after two years of torrid hiring. Amazon now says that it hired too quickly in its fulfillment centers during the pandemic, and now has a surplus of workers, a situation that wlll not take too long to address through attrition. A short time later, Amazon also says it has too much FC space too, with reports it is subletting space in some markets and also delaying opening some FCs.

Gartner releases its top 25 supply chains list for 2022. This year Cisco Systems comes out on top for the third year in a row - sort of. We    put it that way because again in 2021, Apple, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, McDonald's and Unilever were left off the formal top 25, as those five companies have been placed in a separate relatively category called "supply chain masters," a sort of supply chain hall of fame. The rest of the top 10 after Cisco were was (2) Schneider Electric; (3) Colgate-Palmolive; (4) Johnson & Johnson; (5) PepsiCo; (6) Pfizer (7) Intel; (8) Nestle; (9) Lenova; and (10 - surprisingly) Microsoft.


Ecommerce store front software vendor Shopify announces it has acquired software firm Deliverr for $2.1 billion in cash and stock, enabling what Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke says will be an “end-to-end logistics” platform for millions of merchants. Deliverr offers software that predicts the demand for each product by market based on a number of variables. Shopify had previously announced it was building out a fulfilment network for its web merchant customers that would rival Fulfilled by Amazon.


Walmart says it will be expanding its “DroneUp” delivery network to 34 sites by the end of the year, with a reach across six states and up to 4 million households. The program, which focuses on Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, will provide the ability to deliver up to 1 million packages by drone per year.


CSCMP and Kearney release the 2022 State of Logistics report. The headline news: what the report several years back started calling US Business Logistics Costs (USBLC) rose sharply on an absolute basis in 2021 to $1.85 trillion. That was an increase of 22.4% from an economically weak 2020. With a smaller increase in US nominal GDP (10%) than logistics cost rose last year (22.4%), that took the relative cost of logistics as a share of GDP to 8.0%, up significantly from 7.44% in 2020.

(See More Below)








Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents West Coast dock workers, begin working without a contract after the current one expired at the end of June. Negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents ports and terminals, began in May and a settlement appears to be still well off – with port automation said to be key issue, leaving some to fear a stalemate that will lead to a dock worker strike and resulting supply chain chaos.

News that Walmart is implementing new logistics fees for some of its suppliers, asking them to “share” rising transportation costs with the retail giant. Suppliers using Walmart’s Collect shipping program, where Walmart manages freight costs, will now be subject to a new pick-up charge based on a percent of the supplier’s invoice. Also being implemented is a new fuel surcharge that will change daily calculated daily based on market conditions.

Walmart and Target both issue profit warnings based on changing consumer buying patterns that are leaving the two retail giants with excess inventory. Walmart says consumers are avoiding purchases outside of food and gasoline, leading to lower profits and too much inventory in many categories, such as apparel, furniture and home products. “The increasing levels of food and fuel inflation are affecting how customers spend,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said.”


Amazon launches a new service under which it will handle last mile delivery for other brick and mortar retailers in a dozen metro areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle. Retail partners include PacSun, GNC, and Superdry. Amazon will use its contract Flex drivers to make the deliveries, which will cost $2.99 or be free for Prime members for orders over $25.00 in value. Under the program, retailers will fulfill orders from inventory in their stores, and a Flex delivery driver will pick them up from the retailer.

The well-publicized queue of ocean container ships awaiting a berth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is over, with ships at sea down to just eight during on August 29, an all-time record low. That was down from 109 in January, which led to a wait of more than two weeks for ships to unload, causing supply chain chaos and help to push rates much higher.

Reports that even as port delays dwindle, backups at rail hubs are becoming the new key issue. Rail delays have increased the ports’ terminal dwell times. The rail carriers, port officials say, are hampered by a lack of both equipment and rail workers. Unions say a key problem is that railroads laid off about 45,000 workers during the pandemic starting in 2020.


The port of New York and New Jersey exceeds the combined TEU volume of the long-time container handling leaders at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – a trend that continues in October and November and will do so again in December when the numbers come out, an executive at the New York port recently told CNBC. What is going on? Some shippers started moving containers to East Coast ports to avoid the delays seen until recently at LA/Long Beach or in reaction to a possible strike by West Coast stevedores.

The Wall Street Journal publishes an article saying its analysis showed Amazon hired more risky freight carriers - based on US DOT safety ratings –than most other shippers over the past two years. The analysis is focused on the carriers Amazon hires to move merchandise to its fulfillment centers and delivery stations, frequently in company branded trailers. “Trucking contractors that worked frequently for Amazon were more than twice as likely as all other similar companies to receive bad unsafe driving scores,” the WSJ says. Amazon responds that this data is dated, and that the current picture is much different.

FedEx announces a record average general rate increase for parcel shipping of 6.9% for 2023. UPS later matches that increase in October. FedEx and UPS raised shipping rates by an average of 5.9% for 2022, the first time in eight years that either had increased prices more than 4.9%. FedEx also says it is adding a number of other fees and surcharges.


In its latest analysis, the American Trucking Association pegs the US truck driver shortage at 78,000, down a few thousand from the ATA number of 81,000 projected in last year’s report. The ATA adds that based on current driver demographic trends, as well as projected growth in freight demand, the shortage could swell to more than 160,000 over the next decade. We’ll note some believe the driver shortage is greatly exaggerated.

Low water levels on the Mississippi Rivers and connecting waterways threaten barge transport of goods, especially agriculture, forcing some movements to be cancelled or reducing the amount of cargo moved on a ship. This is a major issue, as barges consistently moved around 13% of all US bulk grain and 47% of all grain destined to export markets. The dire situation has improved recently with some December rains.

Another vote on unionization at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in the Albany NY,

area was held, and once again workers said No – decisively so. 66% of workers voted not to join a union, once again dashing the hopes of labor that this vote could be a catalyst for organizing the retail giant’s hundreds of facilities. This makes it 3 out of 4 Amazon logistics sites rejecting unionization in 2022.

Walmart announced it was acquiring Alert Innovation, a provider of so-called micro-fulfillment technology to power largely in-store ecommerce order picking. Though coming in different flavors, micro-fulfillment systems in general are characterized by high density SKU storage in a relatively small space – maybe 10,000 square feet - and use of a shuttle system that put away and selects products for customer orders at high speed, delivering them to work stations where humans assemble the items into grocery bags.


The US Congress passes and president Biden signs legislation that would imposed a contract on rail workers based on a deal reached in September with a dozen unions representing 115,000 workers. That avoided a potential strike called for beginning on December 9, with a likely hard hit to the US economy and create supply chain woes along with it. Many of the 12 unions representing rail workers approved the contract, which included wage gains of 24%, but several did not, citing lifestyle issues such as paid time off and mandatory overtime as key objections.

Thought by some to be lagging in the drone delivery wars, Amazon announces its newest drone mode, the MK30, will be lighter and smaller than the MK27-2, its predecessor unit. It will also have increased range, expanded temperature tolerance, and new safety features. It will also add the capability to fly in light rain, enabling customers to choose drone delivery more often as their method of choice. The hexagon-shaped aircraft weighs 80 pounds and is about 5.5 feet in diameter. Custom-designed propellers reduce the perceived noise by 25%, Amazon said. The drone can fly up to 50 mph and carry parcel of five pounds.

Cloud software giants Microsoft and Amazon’s AWS web services unit announce major supply chain software offerings. First, Microsoft releases what it calls the Supply Chain Platform, with a wide range of software tools, including from third-parties. That includes, the company said, the Microsoft Supply Chain Center, which will track world events that may impact a customer's supply chain, orchestrate actions across a supply chain, and use AI to reduce supply and demand mismatches. A week or so later, AWS says its new planning software will leverage machine learning in a way that will give companies greater insight into the current and future states of their inventory.


At a major event on Friday, the battery-powered Telsa Semi was launched as a commercially available product, with news that PepsiCo receiving the first vehicle. It’s been a long haul for the electric truck. The company's CEO Elon Musk first announced the cargo truck plans in 2017, with stated expectation for a commercial launch in 2019. At the announcement, Musk also said that on a November 25 test drive, a fully-loaded Tesla Semi (81,000) pounds traveled 500 miles on a single charge.

FedEx Freight announces it is testing so-called dimension weighing with some customers of its less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping services. Dimension weighing, in use for several years now by major parcel carriers including FedEx, in great summary can add to the cost of shipping if the cube (length x width x height) exceeds set targets versus the weight of the shipment. The pilot, which FedEx calls “space and pace” pricing, simplifies its pricing structure by removing the need for complex freight classifications under the National Motor Freight Classification pricing system, which is based on factors including density and stowability, according to FedEx. In other words, shippers will pay the greater of the weight or cube pricing calculations.

A study by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) finds infrastructure issues to constrain the move to battery powered electric trucks, finding that relative to a nationwide charging network that “It is not yet clear how large this network will need to be nor the costs necessary to build it,” and that “Full electrification of the US vehicle fleet will result in a large increase beyond the country’s present electricity generation.

There you have - what did we miss


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