Can the Uber model transform freight?

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 Freight brokerage is ripe for disruption, write Dr. Walter Rentzsch and Dr. Wilfried Aulbur

The disruption of digital platforms in brokerage-based businesses is just one of the many ways our world is increasingly becoming digitised.

Special report: Can the Uber model transform freight?

Take the travel agency business as an example. Until the late 1990s, travel agencies dominated the market for travel bookings. The arrival of the internet enabled customers to book their vacation without going through an agency. The simplicity and cost savings of this model motivated customers to use online platforms. Penetration grew continuously despite initial adoption hurdles for some customer groups. Today most standard trips are booked online, and the number of travel agencies has declined by a third over the last decade.

The logistics industry is another brokerage-based business that is beginning to see the underpinnings of a similar disruption. Truck freight start-up funding has grown over past years. While start-ups have raised about US$180m in VC funding between 2011 and 2016, the last few years saw investment increase to US$470m. A large number of new players emerged, some of which reached unicorn status with valuations over one billion dollars, such as Convoy or Flexport. To understand where these companies play, a closer look at the US trucking market structure is necessary.

Continue reading… “Can the Uber model transform freight?”

A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in three days

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A Silicon Valley startup has completed what appears to be the first commercial freight cross-country trip by an autonomous truck, which finished a 2,800-mile-run from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania for Land O’Lakes in under three days. The trip was smooth like butter, 40,000 pounds of it.

Plus.ai, a 3-year-old company in Cupertino, announced the milestone, recently. A safety driver was aboard the autonomous semi, ready to take the wheel if needed, along with a safety engineer who observed how things were going.

Continue reading… “A self-driving truck delivered butter from California to Pennsylvania in three days”

Large ‘Tesla ships’ all-electric container barges are launching this autumn

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The Dutch company Port-Liner is building two giant all-electric barges dubbed the ‘Tesla ships‘. The company announced that the vessels will be ready by this autumn and will be inaugurated by sailing the Wilhelmina canal in the Netherlands.

The 100 million-euro project supported by a €7m subsidy from the European Union is expected to have a significant impact on local transport between the ports of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam.

Continue reading… “Large ‘Tesla ships’ all-electric container barges are launching this autumn”

The impact of driverless trucks on the U.S. warehouse market

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The legendary war philosopher Sun Tzu famously said, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” Logistics is all about efficiency, and in today’s e-commerce-challenged supply chain, efficiency has been blown up to a large extent. Supply chains across industries, particularly in the retail-to-end-user world, have been undergoing complete reinvention for the better part of a decade.

Supply chain disruption resulting from e-commerce is rooted in the push to an omnichannel delivery model: Retailers are working hard to adapt to consumer demand to buy anywhere, accept delivery anywhere and return anywhere. Five-to-seven-day delivery is being replaced by one-to-two-day delivery, and the quest for the holy grail of low-cost, same-day or even two-hour delivery is stressing the old retail supply chain model. Failure to adopt an omnichannel strategy usually means death, as the many recently bankrupt retailers would surely attest.

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‘New Panama Canal’: Paraguay plans transport hub linking Atlantic and Pacific

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Paraguay plans to turn its remote, sparsely populated northwest into an international transport hub and a key link between ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America, in a proposal its government likens to a latter-day Panama Canal.

Investment of over $2bn in basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges aims to transform the Chaco region and boost trade, according to Public Works Minister Arnoldo Wiens. The Corredor Bioceanico will connect ports in Brazil and Chile, while a revitalized highway will span the region from north to south.

“It’s going to generate unprecedented development,” Wiens said in a telephone interview from Asuncion.

Continue reading… “‘New Panama Canal’: Paraguay plans transport hub linking Atlantic and Pacific”

Giant shipper bets big on ending its carbon emissions. Will it pay off ?

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The Danish company Maersk has been shipping goods around the world since the age of steamships. Now it wants to usher in a new era, with carbon neutral transport.

Maersk — the world’s largest container shipping company — has an astonishing goal. By 2050, the company vows to send goods — everything from electronics to soybeans to sneakers — around the world with zero carbon emissions.

The environmental logic behind such a promise is straightforward: Shipping contributes substantially to global climate change.

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First commercial crossing of the north sea by autonomous vessel

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 A 12-meter (40-foot) autonomous vessel has sailed across the North Sea with a token cargo of oysters – making it the first commercial crossing by an autonomous vessel.

The vessel, designed and built in Essex, U.K., docked in the Belgian port city of Oostende last week following a successful transit from West Mersea. The voyage lasted 22 hours.

The box of oysters weighed around 5 kg – just a fraction of the current model’s maximum payload of up to 2.5 tons.

The SEA-KIT vessel USV Maxlimer is operated by SEA-KIT International Ltd, and is designed and developed by Hushcraft Ltd, based in Tollesbury, Essex. The vessel can be transported in a single 40-foot container.

Continue reading… “First commercial crossing of the north sea by autonomous vessel”

Large “Tesla ships” all-electric container barges are launching this autum

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The Dutch company Port-Liner is building two giant all-electric barges dubbed the ‘Tesla ships‘. The company announced that the vessels will be ready by this autumn and will be inaugurated by sailing the Wilhelmina canal in the Netherlands.

The 100 million-euro project supported by a €7m subsidy from the European Union is expected to have a significant impact on local transport between the ports of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam.

Continue reading… “Large “Tesla ships” all-electric container barges are launching this autum”

One of the world’s filthiest industries just agreed to clean up its act

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The shipping industry sets sail toward a carbon-free future.

Cargo-shipping regulators have struck a historic deal to set their dirty fuel-burning industry on a low-carbon course.

On Friday, the International Maritime Organization agreed for the first time to limit greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping. The nonbinding deal marks a critical shift for the sector—which, until last week, was the only major industry without a comprehensive climate plan.

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Tesla’s new Semi could change shipping as we know it

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Tesla is shaking up logistics world with its semiautonomous truck.

Thanks in part to Tesla, the logistics industry is on the road to a transportation transformation.

In November 2017, Tesla rolled out the heavy-duty Semi, an electric-powered, semiautonomous truck that’s already been pre-ordered by the likes of DHL, Anheuser-Busch, J.B. Hunt and Walmart. If all goes as planned, those companies will be among the first to transport goods aboard these sleek, modern vehicles in the not-too-distant future.

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Rolls-Royce charts course for autonomous shipping

The company has secured the grant from Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation, which it plans to invest in an R&D centre in Turku, Finland.

Engineers at the site will carry out development projects focusing on land-based control centres and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in remote and autonomous shipping.

There is still very little AI or machine learning used in the maritime industry, according to Sauli Eloranta, head of innovation and technology at Rolls-Royce Marine.

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