May 17, 2020

Report: 70% chance of 7.0 Tokyo quake in next 4 years

Supply Chain Digital
Japan Supply Chain
Japan Disaster
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute predicts that an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or greater has a 70% chance of striking southern Tokyo in the next four years
Could an even more devastating disaster strike Japan in the next few years? The University of Tokyos Earthquake Research Institute is predicting that t...

Could an even more devastating disaster strike Japan in the next few years?

The University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute is predicting that there is a 70 percent chance that a quake with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater will hit the metro Tokyo within the next four years.

Nearly a year ago, the 2011 Tohuki earthquake and tsunami struck the relatively unpopulated northern region of Japan, battering the local economy, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi power plant while sending shockwaves through the global supply chain. That earthquake measured in at 9.0 on the moment magnitude scale.

The difference in energy released between the 9.0 earthquake of 2011 and a potential 7.0 quake in Tokyo is exactly 1,000 times less, but that’s assuming an earthquake in Tokyo strikes at the lowest end of the scale the research institute predicted.


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While Tokyo is not a major manufacturing hub, it’s difficult to imagine how the battered nation could recover quickly from another major infrastructure disaster. One thing working in Tokyo’s favor, however, is that the city enforces some of the strictest building codes on the planet, complete with stringent earthquake measures.

Tokyo’s residents and government officials responded to the report by raising awareness on updating emergency preparedness plans. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency volunteered to help identify gaps in Japan’s nuclear safety measures.

Japan’s automobile manufacturers in particular should take heed of the earthquake warning. According to Forbes, automobile supply chains have become so complex that some car lines have as many as 5,000 suppliers.

If all else fails, there’s still Japan’s idea of building a ‘backup’ Tokyo.

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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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