May 17, 2020

Nike gets more flies with honey

Supply Chain
MIT study
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Keeping the green ball rolling
According to a new study, the farmer and the cowman really should be friends. The bitterly divided contest between environmentalists and supply chain m...

According to a new study, the farmer and the cowman really should be friends.

The bitterly divided contest between environmentalists and supply chain managers does not reflect the market reality, the research finds.  In point of fact, less wasteful practices tend to mean big savings down the line – and sometimes a whole lot sooner than you might think.

Why this is so, in managerial speak, has to with systemic risk from environmental degradation or disaster.  When you’re running a supply chain that has global scope, the chance that something could go wrong in one corner of the world and upset the balance gets a lot higher.


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Additionally, since many of the primary sources of cheap labor are in tropical climates, natural disasters can be endemic – especially to heavily exploited areas. 

Sophisticated modern supply chains set standards for quality and precision that can’t be met if a link in the chain falls away.  Information technology is particularly hard hit, with recent floods in Thailand washing through pristine sterile-conditioned factories. 

A dramatic market spike in solid state drives was the immediate result – just the kind of jagged stats supply chain managers try to smooth over.

Sustainable approaches aren’t just for the long term anymore; they’re indispensable to competitive business practices in the here and now.  Just ask Nike, which ranked in the study as a new market leader in forest-friendly supply chain management.

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Jun 15, 2021

FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles

3 min
FedEx is expanding a trial of autonomous vehicles in its last-mile logistics process with partner Nuro, including multi-stop and appointment deliveries

FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics. 

The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener". 

FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road. 

“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”


The changing role of couriers 

Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time. 

But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse. 

“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”

Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds. 

Last mile's role in ESG

Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings. 

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