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This Week in Logistics News (July 29 – August 4)

Happy birthday hip-hop! Hip-hop is a genre of music that originated in the Bronx in the early 1970s by African Americans, having existed for several years prior to mainstream discovery. Hip hop originated as an anti-drug and anti-violence genre, while consisting of stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, Pepsi Max has launched an international campaign honoring late rapper The Notorious B.I.G. and his legacy in the genre. Working with the estate and family of The Notorious B.I.G. [Christopher Wallace], who was murdered in March 1997, Pepsi Max’s campaign aims to bring the artist’s music to life through both virtual and physical experiences and events. That will include street art appearing in major cities around the world and limited-edition cans featuring his image. Linking him as a fan of Pepsi, the company has highlighted an old freestyle track that was discovered in 2020 but recorded in 1997. The track included the lyrics: “Nothing can beat the P-E-P-S-I, yes I drink it constantly / Something ’bout the taste feels great, less filling / Tell ’em Biggie said to drink it all, don’t test me / Nothing else beats a Pepsi / If it is, let’s see/ I’m thirsty.” And now on to this week’s logistics news.

US trucking firm Yellow shuts ops, to file for bankruptcy, Teamsters say
Teamsters local unions endorse agreement with delivery giant UPS
Amazon to open robotics-backed fulfillment center in Ontario
Walmart’s first class of “homegrown truck drivers” graduates
Europe’s most important trade route is at risk due to climate change
Kraft Heinz is rethinking sustainable packaging

Trucking company Yellow Corp. has shut down operations and is headed for bankruptcy filing, according to the Teamsters Union and multiple media reports. After years of financial struggles, reports of Yellow preparing for bankruptcy emerged last week as the Nashville, Tennessee-based trucker saw customers leave in large numbers. Earlier this month, Yellow averted a strike by 22,000 Teamsters-represented workers and last week it said it was exploring opportunities to divest its third-party logistics company. In an announcement early Monday, the Teamsters said that the union received legal notice confirming Yellow was ceasing operations and filing for bankruptcy. The Teamsters union has already said it is “putting infrastructure in place to help affected members get the assistance they need to find good union jobs throughout freight and other industries.” Now the American Trucking Association (ATA) is offering a second option as it encourages former Yellow employees to access its database to help find new employment opportunities within the trucking industry. “Yellow’s closure is a substantial blow to America’s economy and the company’s 30,000 hardworking employees and their families in all 50 states,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a release.

Speaking of the Teamsters, the labor union, which represents 340,000 workers at UPS voted 161-1 on Monday to endorse the tentative agreement reached with the delivery giant on July 25. The agreement, estimated to be at $30 billion by the union, provides historic wage increases, one more paid holiday and air conditioning in the company’s ubiquitous brown delivery trucks. It also eliminates a two-tier pay system and forced overtime for delivery drivers. “Our tentative agreement is richer, stronger, and more far-reaching than any settlement ever negotiated in the history of American organized labor,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. Of the 176 local unions with UPS members, 14 affiliates did not show up to a meeting in Washington DC to review the agreement. The union said the rank and file of UPS Teamsters will have the chance to vote on ratification from August 3 to 22.

As more and more companies look at ways to automate operations, Amazon is helping to lead the way. This is especially true when it comes to the company’s vast network of fulfillment centers. Amazon Canada says it will open a new robotics-backed fulfilment center south of London, Ontario later this year. The company says the new fulfilment center is expected to open in Southwold on October 1. The center, known as YXU1, will see employees work alongside robotics technology to pick, pack and ship up to 750,000 items a day. Amazon expects to hire more than 1,000 full-time employees to staff the center, and will begin its hiring efforts for the site in September. Amazon says that hires will receive competitive wages as well as medical, vision, and dental coverage and a group RRSP plan.

The truck driver shortage has been affecting different companies in different ways. For Walmart, the retail giant was looking at ways to recruit new drivers to keep the goods flowing across the country. So, in the midst of a truck driver shortage last year, Walmart decided its own ranks of 1.6 million employees might want to learn how to drive a big rig for Walmart. Walmart dangled first-year truck driver salaries of up to $110,000 and a 12-week training program for its Walmart and Sam’s Club store and warehouse workers. The first class with former retail employees graduated July 28 from a training center in Walmart’s Sanger distribution center in Denton County, Texas. More than 70 Walmart employees are graduating this week from seven training centers set up across the U.S. So far the program has produced 190 new drivers for Walmart, which employs 13,500 truck drivers. Graduates earn their commercial driver licenses. Walmart puts its students up in a hotel and transports them back and forth to the training center while they continue to be paid.

The Rhine River has been a reliable shipping lane for centuries, helping spawn industrial giants along its banks. But those days are coming to an end, and the scramble is made all the more urgent as Germany’s government fails to keep pace. With water regularly receding to levels that impede shipping from late summer through the fall, companies up and down Europe’s most important trade route are rushing to adapt, underscoring how the climate crisis is hitting even advanced industrial economies. The costly and cumbersome workarounds are aimed at avoiding widespread shutdowns due to disruptions in the critical transport artery — a dilemma that’s becoming more frequent as warmer winters mean less snow to maintain levels during dry summer months. After brutal heat waves scorched southern Europe, the river at Kaub, a key waypoint west of Frankfurt, has hit levels this summer that mean some ships could carry only about half of normal capacity. While recent rains have eased the strain, even small changes can have a major impact. A drop of 10 centimeters (four inches) means about 100 fewer tons can be transported per ship, according to Florian Röthlingshöfer, director of Swiss Rhine Ports.

The Kraft Heinz Company has updated its sustainable packaging goals to include the reduction of its use of virgin plastic by 20 percent within its global packaging portfolio by 2030. The announcement builds upon the company’s ESG goals and investments, which aim to decrease the use of fossil fuels, reduce plastic use, and integrate more sustainable packaging options. This reduction will diminish the use of virgin plastics by approximately 100 million pounds, according to the company. The company strives to replace 15 percent of its U.S. PET rigid plastic packaging portfolio with post-consumer recycled content by 2025. Kraft Heinz is also looking to eliminate unnecessary plastic within their packaging, including removing the plastic “shaker” bag within their Shake ‘N Bake packaging and launching a multipack paperboard sleeve to replace plastic shrink-wrap in the U.K. It is building upon existing work within the U.S., U.K., and Canada, to increase recycled content within their packaging, including:

Beginning in 2024, Kraft Real Mayo and Miracle Whip will transition to 100% recycled content within their packaging in the United States, expected to eliminate 14 million pounds of virgin plastic.
The company will move to 30% recycled content in most bottles sold in Brazil, Europe, and the U.K.
It’s creating recyclable Heinz Beans Snap Pots made with 39% recycled plastics in the U.K. that were returned to Tesco by consumers.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, which happens to be probably the most influential rap song of all time, Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang.

The post This Week in Logistics News (July 29 – August 4) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.

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