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This Week in Logistics News (May 18 – 24)

Last week I attended the Blue Yonder ICON conference. My write-up gets into all of the great things I saw while at the show. But there is an underlying benefit to work travel sometimes – watching movies on my flight that I might not otherwise have time for. On my flight to Dallas, I finally got a chance to watch a movie I had been excited to see since it was announced – The Iron Claw. The movie tells the story of perhaps the greatest family from professional wrestling, the Von Erichs. The Iron Claw shows the family’s rise in the wrestling ranks, the fractures within the family, and the heartbreak of what is known as the Von Erich Curse. I won’t share too many details in case anybody plans to watch it, but it was a masterful performance from the two leads Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White. These two actors transformed themselves into the embodiment of the Von Erichs, pushing their bodies to the limits for the sake of authenticity. I highly recommend watching the movie when you get a chance. And now on to this week’s logistics news.

NY Fed announces launch of new supply chain pressure metrics
Yellen raises warning about China oversupply threat
Tractor Supply’s new DC serves as testing ground for robotics
Green transition to face minerals shortage
US import prices increase by the most in two years in April
Nearshoring to continue boosting cross-border trucking in 2024
Hexagon Purus and Hino Trucks introduce new electric heavy-duty truck

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is bolstering its data offerings tracking the state of supply chains. The bank said Friday that it is launching new “Supply Availability Indexes” via a blog posting on Monday that going forward will feature as part of its regular monthly surveys of regional business activity. Noting that supply chain pressures are a key driver of inflation, the bank said in a press release that the new indexes “present a new gauge to measure how widespread supply disruptions are, understand if availability is improving, and track inflationary pressures and the impact on local firms.” The indexes will feature in future Empire State Manufacturing and Business Leaders surveys, the bank said. The new gauges can be joined with the bank’s monthly Global Supply Chain Pressures Index “to compare trends in the U.S to international supply availability,” the New York Fed said. After surging during the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain pressures have subsided and helped inflation pressures fall markedly from its peak. The bank’s global supply chain index has been showing muted pressure on that front for some time.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Tuesday that the United States and Europe needed to work together to push back against China’s excess industrial capacity, warning that a wave of cheap Chinese exports represents a grave threat to the global economy. Ms. Yellen’s remarks, delivered during a speech in Germany, highlighted what is expected to be a central topic of discussion when the Group of 7 finance ministers meet in Italy this week. China’s excessive production of green energy technology has become a pressing trans-Atlantic concern in recent months. Officials in President Biden’s administration have grown increasingly worried that his efforts to finance domestic manufacturing of clean energy and other next-generation technologies will be undercut by China, which is churning out steel, electric cars and solar panels at a rapid clip.

Tractor Supply Company has gone big in Arkansas, opening its most high-tech distribution center yet. The nation’s largest rural lifestyle retailer has opened its tenth and largest distribution center yet, in Maumelle, Ark. The 1.1 million-sq.-ft. facility represents an investment of more than $175 million in the region and will create 500 full-time jobs for local residents. The facility is Tractor Supply’s first to utilize autonomous mobile robots at scale for small-item fulfillment. It will serve as a testing facility for other robotics designed to help reduce costs and increase productivity. The Maumelle distribution center is registered with the certification goal of LEED Gold. The building’s roof features a solar array system consisting of more than 10,000 solar panels that will produce five million kilowatts of electricity per year, enough to support operations during daylight hours. The solar panels will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by approximately 4,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Electric vehicle, wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers face a shortfall in critical metals and minerals unless more investment is made in projects such as new mines and recycling, according to a report from the International Energy Agency. While market pressures eased in 2023—leading to a slump in prices for metals including copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel—long-term investment is vital to avoid projected demand outpacing supply, according to the analysis from the IEA. The minerals are used in a number of technologies essential to the green transition. According to the analysis, the world’s current projected supply of lithium will meet only 50% of global demand by 2035, while copper resources will meet just over two-thirds of demand by that time.

U.S. import prices rose by the most in two years in April amid rising costs for energy products and other goods, suggesting that domestic inflation could remain elevated for a while. Import prices surged 0.9% last month, the largest increase since March 2022, after an upwardly revised 0.6% rise in March, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Thursday. Economists polled by Reuters had expected import prices, which exclude tariffs, to advance 0.3% following a previously reported 0.4% gain in March. In the 12 months through April, import prices accelerated 1.1%, the largest gain since December 2022. Prices rose 0.4% in March, which was the first year-on-year increase since January 2023. The firmer import price readings cast a shadow on the inflation outlook. Data on Wednesday showed inflation resuming its downward drift after surging in the first quarter, with consumer price growth moderating in April after posting solid gains for two straight months.

With ongoing economic tensions between the United States and China, companies looking to relocate parts or all of their supply chains continue to look to Mexico. According to Mexico’s secretary of the economy (SE), there were 378 foreign direct investment (FDI) announcements last year, totaling over $6.4 billion. Private sector businesses from the U.S. were the top investors in Mexico, accounting for 38% of FDI. China was ranked second at 12%, followed by Denmark (9%), Australia (7%) and South Korea (6%). Mexico hit a new record for FDI in the first quarter of 2024, increasing 9% year over year to $1.2 billion.

At the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Las Vegas this morning, Hexagon Purus in partnership with Hino Trucks, has announced the launch of a dedicated zero-emission battery electric Class 8 truck branded ‘Tern’ for the US truck market. A product of the new long-term agreement between Hexagon Purus and Hino Trucks, valued at up to approximately $2 billion, Tern is designed to deliver a seamless transition to electrification for the US commercial vehicle sector. Manufactured in Hexagon Purus’ new facility in Dallas, Texas, the Tern RC8 is scheduled for serial production in late 2024. Tern RC8 is based on Hino’s XL Series 4 x 2 chassis and is equipped with Hexagon Purus’ zero-emission technology, featuring proprietary battery systems, auxiliary modules, and power modules. The Tern RC8 also features an e-Axle from Dana for optimum efficiency and battery cells supplied and manufactured by Panasonic Energy, initially in Japan before transitioning to De Soto, Kansas from 2026 onwards.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the long weekend and the song of the week, Kerry Von Erich’s intro music, Tom Sawyer by Rush.

The post This Week in Logistics News (May 18 – 24) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.

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