Electric vehicle (EV) supply could be hampered by a shortage of nickel sulfate, a key ingredient in the manufacture of EV batteries, according to the Wall Street Journal. The ore that is most commonly used to produce the brilliantly colored crystalline substance is mined in only a handful of places – and they include some of the most politically or operationally challenging, such as Russia or in Canada’s frozen Northeast, according to the WSJ.
Did you know?:
More than 580,000 order fulfillment robots will be deployed over the next five years, according to a September 2019 report by research firm Interact Analysis.
“Robots will one day be a common site in logistics, doing the heavy lifting and traveling the long distances to let people do more meaningful tasks. What will success look like? When robots empower people and enable those who know nothing about computers or robots to operate them.”
– Melonee Wise, CEO of Fetch Robotics
In other news:
Four ways the U.S.-China trade war will reshape logistics in 2020
First, the single-sourcing of import traffic will become increasingly risky; second, foreign-trade zones will gain in popularity; third, industry vendors will continue to consolidate; and fourth, there will be more domestic shipping. (Forbes)
It’s a big warehouse out there
Congress has authorized about $7 billion to be spent over 15 years to “set up a deep space supply chain. To that end, NASA has put out an RFP looking for innovative ideas on how to transport, store and handle supplies. (Logistics Management)
Less diesel belch, better air and lives
U.S. cities could see a decline in mortality rates and an improved economy through mid-century if federal and local governments maintain stringent air pollution policies and diminish concentrations of diesel freight truck exhaust, according to research from Cornell University published in the journal Environment International. (Cornell Chronicle)
Inland ports ripe for major logistics investment
It’s happening all over, according to Walter Kemmsies, chief strategist of the ports, airports and infrastructure group at real estate and logistics services giant JLL. China is building a network of 15 inland ports mostly to improve import logistics where it has under-invested in the past. The U.S. is likely to see several new inland ports apply or acquire permits in the next 12 to 18 months. Europe has a well-established network of inland ports but another two or three are likely to emerge as more goods are moved by rail between Asia and Europe, Kemmsies said. (JLL)
Car hauler capacity blues
Auto-hauling companies, which hire highly paid and arguably the most highly skilled commercial drivers anywhere, face the same issues as everyone else – electronic logging device requirements, rising costs for casualty, liability, worker’s compensation insurance and the nature of the car-hauling vocation. Industry representatives said these issues have caused transport companies and drivers to leave the business. (Auto Remarketing)
Supporters of warehouse automation have said it will free up workers to handle more “value-added” tasks in the warehouse. But a reasonable person might ask – What exactly would those value-added tasks be? What would be left for the human to do? Robots will need to be programmed, repaired and maintained, but such capabilities are beyond the skill set of the typical warehouse worker. People will be needed to supervise the robots, but it’s doubtful it will take an army of workers to do it. Sadly, it is very easy to imagine the warehouse of the future a totally automated affair. The idea of freeing up a worker to do something in a warehouse that a robot couldn’t be programmed to seems to be the stuff of fantasy. Or to be more cynical, a PR ploy to make the automation of jobs go down easier with the general public. The reality check comes from XPO Logistics, Inc.’s Chief Strategy Officer Matt Fassler, who said earlier this year that the “transportation world over time is going to be fully automated, and we’re engaged in automating almost every touch point of the transaction from the time a customer seeks capacity to the selection of that capacity and the various steps that take the freight from origin to destination.”
Hammer down everyone!