May 17, 2020

US freight shipments show positive November results

Freddie Pierce
2 min
November was 4.5% under the all-time high figures in Dec 2011
Demand for the for-hire transportation industry rose by 1.7 percent in November from October, rising after a one month decline according to the US Dep...


Demand for the for-hire transportation industry rose by 1.7 percent in November from October, rising after a one month decline according to the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) Freight Transportation Services’ Index (TSI).

The statement, which was released today, reported that the level of freight shipments in November were 4.5 percent below the all-time high level of 114.0 in December 2011, which is the highest recorded level since records began in 1990.The results for November 2012 were 15.5 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession.

The Freight TSI measures the changes in freight shipments month-to-month by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles which are combined into a single index. The index measures the output of the for-hire transportation industry, consisting of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight.

Comparison to 2011

According to a statement released by the US Department of Transportation, November 2012 freight shipments were unchanged from November 2011, but rose 8.8 percent from November 2009, shortly after the end of the recession. Shipments measured by the index remained below the level of November 2005 (112.5) two years prior to the recession.

Long Term Trend

Freight shipments are down 0.4 percent in the five years from the pre-recession level of November 2007 but are up 4.7 percent in the 10 years from November 2002 despite declines in recent years.

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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, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, 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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