Supply Chain Watch September 2011

August 31, 2011
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Southwest Cargo Upgrades its Tracking Capabilities

An executive with Southwest Airlines Cargo told Air Cargo Worldrecently that the carrier is upgrading its tracking capabilities to improve shipment visibility for shippers.

In particular, Southwest is “developing piece-level, plane-side scanning for all commodities being loaded in, or unloaded from, our aircraft,” said the executive. He expects the new technology to be fully implemented by the middle of next year.

At the same time, Southwest has started accepting shipments equipped with OnAsset Intelligence’s Sentry 400 FlightSafe GPS device, which not only provides shipment tracking information, but monitors other critical information such as temperature, pressure, humidity, shock, and vibration.

The Sentry 400 FlightSafe GPS device has been certified as safe to use on aircraft. According to the manufacturer, “Its combination of embedded sensors and advanced processor algorithms intelligently control its functions to comply with FAA regulations. Just as passengers are asked to turn off their cell phones prior to takeoff, FlightSafe does this automatically.”


Lufthansa to Use Plastic Shipping Containers

Lufthansa has begun using new shipping containers made of lightweight plastic that will help the carrier reduce fuel costs and lower emissions.

The new containers are up to 15 percent lighter than traditional aluminum shipping containers and will be used both for cargo and for passenger luggage.

Lufthansa’s chairman and CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt explained, “The new light containers are another step towards achieving our ambitious targets to reduce emissions. Together with Jettainer (a Lufthansa Cargo subsidiary), we are targeting investment in the latest technology and…will therefore operate the largest fleet of lightweight containers in the world.”



Decaying Infrastructure Taking its Toll on Transportation

A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) shows that the nation’s decaying infrastructure is costing the U.S. $129 billion a year.

Specifically, the report estimates that infrastructure deficiencies add $97  billion a year to the cost of operating vehicles and result in travel delays that cost $32 billion.

“If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, these costs are expected to grow exponentially,” the ASCE concluded. “Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.”

The latest report follows a study in May by the Urban Land Institute, which warned that infrastructure in the U.S. is falling behind three emerging economic competitors: Brazil, China, and India.



Louisiana Lawmaker Pushing Support for New Port

Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, is hoping to soon have investors in place for a $1 billion project to build a deep-water transfer terminal near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The proposed deep-water facility would accommodate mega-vessels that are too deep to navigate the waterway, and would coincide with the completed expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014.

According to State Sen. Crowe, the deep-water transfer terminal would fill a need to have additional container handling capacity in the region, especially since the Port of New Orleans recently renewed its lease with Mediterranean Shipping Company.


U.S. Containerized Exports Slow in Second Quarter

According to the trade reporting service PIERS, containerized exports of U.S. goods rose 6 percent during the second quarter compared to 12 percent in the first quarter of the year.

A slowdown in demand for pet and animal feeds contributed significantly to the downturn, as the segment experienced a 25 percent contraction in the second quarter, which equated to 40,000 less TEUs being shipped.



Intermodal Project Underway in Miami

A project is underway to restore an intermodal rail link between the Port of Miami and the Florida East Coast Rail Yard in Hialeah, Florida. Rail service has been suspended since 2005 when Hurricane Wilma damaged the rail link.

The $49 million project received $22 million in 2010 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program.

The project will also help reduce greenhouse emissions by eliminating approximately 60,000 fewer truck trips every year between the port and the Florida East Coast Railway’s (FEC) Hialeah intermodal rail yard.

A total of 400,000 truck trips are expected to be eliminated annually from the road within eight years of completing the project.



Amazon Sites a Third DC in Tennessee

Amazon has signed a short-term lease for an existing warehouse outside Nashville for its latest planned distribution center, making this the third Tennessee warehouse for the giant retailer.

The company already has two million-square-foot facilities in the state.

It’s expected that Amazon will hire between 400 and 500 workers at the warehouse located in Wilson County. wt


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