The Week of September 26th:10 things eft’s been reading this week

Given our constant industry engagement, we at eft are constantly keeping pace with the very latest developments in the supply chain industry. On the back of that, we’re going to be launching a round-up of everything we’ve been looking at in a given week that’s particularly jumped off the page at us.

It’s going to be my job to draw some themes, trends and some type of segue between each such that it isn’t just a shotgun blast at the news!

Here goes…

Blockchain off the block

Blockchain – the idea of creating an inalterable record of transactions – has often been considered as possibly game-changing for supply chain. The difficulty has been the jump from theory to real-life application. It looks like this is finally happening. Marine Transport International is using the technology for processing new shipping container weighing regulations. Where next for blockchain? Quality control, visibility, date interchange, risk management, CSR, IP protection, etc.

Amazon roundup

What summary of supply chain articles wouldn’t be complete without something from Amazon?

Bad news first:  they were fined this week for carrying hazardous goods by air. This is actually one area blockchain technology could be used in the future to help ensure shipments are what they say they are.

Then good news: We were very impressed with this video showing how Amazon organizes its NOW warehouses. They actually place items in random order throughout the warehouse. In what almost looks like a machine-learning sorting algorithm working in real-life, workers then go around collecting items based on the computer’s pre-determined best route. You can only imagine that an actual machine-learning algorithm is next for determining which products sell together, or which paths of products make the most senses.

Finally, the WSJ did a fascinating piece on Amazon’s future role as logistics friend or foe.

Eft’s 3PL Summit and Chief Supply Chain Officer Forum in two weeks will be featuring a keynote by Amazon’s Chris Rowe, Head of EU Supply Chain Finance.

Warehousing, brought to you by Cards Against Humanity

As Amazon continues its tear into retail and logistics, fulfilled by Amazon remains a popular choice for many businesses. Smaller businesses though aren’t as convinced due to the expense. A number of start-ups, including the folks behind Cards Against Humanity are starting to offer other fulfilment services aimed at smaller businesses.

Apple + Maclaren

One article this week that particularly grabbed my attention was the rumour of Apple possibly being in talks to buy automaker Maclaren. I mean yes, super cars are exciting, but this caught my attention for a few other reasons as well: It really underlines some of the shifts taking place in the hi-tech industry:

  • Consumer appetite for standard hi-tech hardware has slowed (laptops, smartphones etc.): because feature development isn’t as radical as it used to be and because most of the exciting new developments are online-based. ‘Your hardware just needs to get you online.’
  • Automotive is increasingly hi-tech

Well, if you’re Apple, 17.5 million new cars sold in the US in 2015 isn’t a market to turn your nose up at.

Drones taking off

This week, UPS announced that it was testing drone deliveries of medical supplies.

We also took a close look at Matternet’s drone logistics system. Similar to some of the work DHL is doing with its drone docking stations, they’re looking to resolve some of the nagging challenges of drone delivery. In DHL’s case, it is where does the drone deliver the package, in this case it is using the drone to help last mile delivery – getting the drone within striking range of delivery areas.

Supply chain innovation

First of all, a big congratulation to Flexport on closing a massive $65m B-round of funding. Tech companies continue to challenge the logistics establishment on how the business can be done.

Finally, this week Dutch bicycle manufacturer VanMoot revealed that to reduce the number of damaged shipments arriving with customers, the company decided to print the image of a television  on their shipping boxes. Did it work? To the tune of 70-80%! It turns out that innovation doesn’t need technology, or does it?

And that’s 10, enjoy!


Haley Garner, Head of Research and Content, eft

comments powered by Disqus