The pandemic has complicated the WMS procurement process

Before the coronavirus pandemic, many retailers saw warehouse management systems (WMS) as an important investment area. The State of Retailing Online 2020 report from the National Retail Federation and Forrester found 73% of retailers are investing in WMS. And 63% of respondents said WMS technology expense was simply the cost of doing business, according to the survey.

Procuring and deploying WMS was also a face-to-face process before COVID-19. But the pandemic has driven many firms to work remotely and warehouses to enact social distancing measures, complicating the process for standing up a new WMS, experts told Supply Chain Dive.

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Source: Supply Chain Dive

Residual effects of Hurricane Hanna to slow cross-border freight for days

Dive Brief:

  • Hanna, which made landfall in Texas as a hurricane Saturday night, moved west Monday, dumping up to a foot of rain in southern Texas and northern Mexico and slowing border crossings.
  • Major northbound routes from Mexico were operating at 50% capacity Monday with some closures due to landslides and flooding.
  • Kansas City Southern’s Matamoros to Monterrey, Mexico, line flooded Sunday along with its Monterrey yard, causing the railroad to interrupt service for repairs in both locations. A customer service advisory says repairs will be complete by Tuesday morning, weather permitting. Union Pacific temporarily suspended service between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas, Saturday night and reopened Sunday morning.

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Source: Supply Chain Dive

The world’s supply chain isn’t ready for a COVID-19 vaccine

The industries that shepherd goods around the world on ships, planes and trucks acknowledge they aren’t ready to handle the challenges of shipping an eventual Covid-19 vaccine from drugmakers to billions of people.

Already stretched thin by the pandemic, freight companies face problems ranging from shrinking capacity on container ships and cargo aircraft to a lack of visibility on when a vaccine will arrive. Shippers have struggled for years to reduce cumbersome paperwork and upgrade old technology that, unless addressed soon, will slow the relay race to transport fragile vials of medicine in unprecedented quantities.

Making a vaccine quickly is hard enough but distributing one worldwide offers a host of other variables, and conflicting forces may work against the effort: The infrastructure powering the global economy is scaling down for a protracted downturn just as pharmaceutical companies need to scale up for the biggest and most consequential product launch in modern history.

“We’re not prepared,” Neel Jones Shah, global head of air carrier relationships at San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flexport, said during a webinar this week with other logistics executives.

“Let’s all be honest here, vaccine supply chains are exponentially more complex than PPE supply chain,” he said, referring to personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gloves. “You can’t ruin PPE by leaving it on the tarmac for a couple of days. You will destroy vaccines.”

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Source: American Journal of Transportation

Hapag-Lloyd latest carrier to offer service with no rollover promises

Hapag-Lloyd is the latest carrier to announce a shipment guarantee premium product, which it claims will “increase supply chain efficiency” for customers.

Loaded as Booked is the fourth part of the carrier’s rollout of 10 quality promises through to the end of next year.

Hapag-Lloyd said subscribing would mean a promise to load 95% of a customer’s confirmed bookings “on the exact ship specified” in the booking confirmation.

“Missed loadings have always been an issue for customers because they cause inefficiencies across their entire supply chain,” said Juan Carlos Duk, managing director global commercial development at Hapag-Lloyd.

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Source: The Load Star

Air freight rates still rising: ‘the last thing shippers want in this market’

Transpacific air freight rates are surging again, with prices up more than 8% in the past week.

China to the US saw rates rise 8.6% to $5.16, while Hong Kong to the US jumped 9% to $5.35, according to the latest TAC Index figures.

Forwarders have reported, however, that the rates tend to be even higher than the index records.

Freight Investor Services (FIS) said rising rates were encouraging carriers to continue to trade in the spot market, rather than opt for longer-term contracts.

“A boost in ex-Asia Pacific prices, perhaps the last thing shippers will want in this market, lifts the curve upwards,” it said.

“We would see that this could create a bit of persistence on the carrier side of the market in holding onto spot pricing, creating a bit of instability in forecasting considering the lack of more than month-long fixed-price contracts.”

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Source: The Load Star