How the pandemic drove retailers to on-demand warehousing

Companies that provide “on-demand” warehousing in the form of short-term contracts have experienced an uptick in demand as a result of the pandemic, which industry analysts say is explained by supply chains looking for agility and flexibility in their operations. Still, some question the value and say traditional 3PLs provide better long-term partners.

Figures provided by Flexe show its enterprise users — the retailers and companies that use the warehouse network — grew 128% YoY in 2020. Its operator network grew 50% YoY to reach more than 1,500 locations across North America.

Air cargo gone wild: 9% growth in February

The international air cargo market has been on fire since last summer and the blaze is getting bigger, new figures show. The only thing dampening growth is a lack of capacity related to the severe pullback in international passenger flights.

February air shipment volumes increased 9% compared to the same month in 2019, according to data released Wednesday by the International Air Transport Association. Demand for air transport is so strong that it has returned to elevated levels last seen before the U.S.-China trade war broke out in 2018. The results were also 1.5% higher than in January, when air cargo traffic returned to positive territory, plus 1.1% over 2019, from the depths of last spring’s pandemic trough.

Cargo demand is being pulled up by the V-shaped recovery of the global economy and industrial production, roaring e-commerce sales as people spend on goods rather than services, conversion from ocean shipping where transport delays of several weeks are common, and low inventory-to-sales ratios that can mean stockouts if companies don’t use air for replenishment.

Air cargo gone wild: 9% growth in February

Maritime regulators dive into alleged tariff-fee overcharges

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is investigating alleged excessive tariff fees that ocean carriers charge shippers. The outcome could lead to new tariff regulations.

An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) looking into the matter, scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, is the latest action by the FMC on container carrier billing practices, including an investigation into charges for services that may not have been part of the shipping contract.

“The commission observes that carriers are charging widely varying fees and imposing varying minimum requirements for access to common carrier tariffs,” according to the notice. “The commission seeks information regarding the impact of such fees and minimum requirements on public access to common carrier rules, rates, practices and charges in published tariffs and whether existing fees or requirements are unreasonable.”

The ability for shipper customers to gain access to tariffs is particularly important during periods of transportation rate volatility — as is the case currently in container shipping — to ensure that shippers are aware of the most current applicable rates, the FMC’s notice points out. “Some tariff access fees may be so high that they effectively prevent tariff users from reviewing certain carrier tariffs, particularly those with substantial minimum charges, such as $1,000 or $1,500,” the ANPRM states.

Maritime regulators dive into alleged tariff-fee overcharges

4 tools to fight fraud, counterfeits and cyberattacks in the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain

The Moderna, Pfizer and most recently Johnson & Johnson vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, while AstraZeneca plans to soon submit its vaccine for review by the agency.

That means multiple vaccines with different supply chains and global distribution, trickling down to diverse administration sites.

“In isolation, we’re not dealing with things that are horrifically complex,” said Simon Geale, senior vice president of client solutions for Proxima, procurement specialists. “But if you put them all together, you end up with one of the most complex operations you’ve ever seen, and it’s different in every country.”

China’s end-June 40% vaccination goal a long shot

Time is running out in Beijing’s push to immunize no less than 40% of its 1.3 billion-plus population against the novel coronavirus by the end of June.

China’s top leadership is replicating the same cure-all mass mobilization tactic that helped the nation tide over waves of Covid resurgences a year ago to rev up a nationwide, no-one-left-behind drive to administer shots.

All provinces and municipalities launched their roll-outs to most residents since late March and the clock is ticking and viral spillovers from Myanmar have ignited clusters in southwestern Yunnan province, ending China’s weeks-long streak of no new infections.

The all-out blitz to shake off complacency and extend vaccine coverage to the masses has, nonetheless, hastened a relapse of some controversial practices once widespread during the height of China’s war to squash pneumonia back in early 2020.