Category Archives: Logistics

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Has Blockchain Reached its RFID Moment?

 

Walmart lettuce bag

A good summary by Alexis Bateman and Chris Cottrill of MIT comparing Walmart’s intro of blockchain for leafy greens to their introduction of RFID. As before, they are compelling suppliers to participate.  That gets it done, but does not ensure that there will be a fair division of the benefit.  And of course, it is not clear that there will be benefit.  The technology is still too new.

I’m troubled by the fact that a permanent log of readings from handheld devices may not allow device errors to be corrected.  Some suppliers may be unfairly implicated if reading errors occur. However, if the application only tracks possession and not the presence of disease bacteria, that may not be much of a problem. I suspect that mixing lots from several farmers in a single bag may be a bigger and more contentious legal dilemma.

And it’s not a solution for the little guys. Only a behemoth like Walmart could impose such a requirement.  About as far from the original blockchain concept of decentralization as one can get.

Nonetheless, I’m sure we will learn a lot from the experiment.

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via Has Blockchain Reached its RFID Moment?

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Intermodal wrangles just making the pain worse for US shippers using rail

The Chicago area just can’t seem to get its act together. The result will be delayed cargoes and higher costs for cargo owners.  Ian Putzger of the Loadstar gives us the story.

Chicago is unlikely to lose its dominance over this, though if it goes on long enough supply chains will think about shifting.  The impact on service delay measures and failure to deliver on time will be quite large.  And for more money?   Can Kansas City or Memphis do better?  How about the East Coast seaports and the Panama Canal?

 

logo  via Intermodal wrangles just making the pain worse for US shippers using rail – The Loadstar

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New paper published on Standards and carrier differentiation

My colleagues Chris Clott, Rob Cannizzaro and I just published a paper in the Journal of Shipping and Trade.  In it we propose a new standard called ServiceTerms for classifying container cargo on six ACTION dimensions which are relevant to downstream supply chain service and performance (and to some extent upstream actions).  The six dimensions are

  • Accessorial
  • Customer Service
  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Orders and paperwork
  • None of the above.

ServiceTerms would function something like INCOTERMS in supply chain contracts. They would provide a standard which every participant in the supply chain– ocean, rail and truck carriers, port terminals, warehousing, drayage, distribution, and so on– would know about in advance and determine how they were going to handle the goods to meet the standard.   The standard includes a specification of limits on the time spent in each step of the journey, based on the total length in time committed to.  These time standards would allow each of the actors to plan their operations to meet their time requirement.  Aiming  for the standard would coordinate the supply chain actors with only limited need for them to work together except on the handoffs. (And these are typically between just two adjacent players in the network.)  The actors in the chain would be enabled to innovate their own individual  techniques to meet their goals.

Like INCOTERMS there would be no specific penalties for failure.  However, there would be measurement and reporting of performance (time in service) at each stage of the end-to-end delivery.  Individual contracts could provide penalties, negotiated by the participants;  everyone involved could keep track of whether a participant was doing his or her bit to meet the standard; or whether some were agreeing to a standard with less than total commitment to making it happen for individual cargoes.

Alliances have been touted as supply chain improvements because they coordinate a few ocean carriers on legs of a journey. But supply chain thinking tells us what matters is the overall source to destination performance, and that requires more involvement, particularly from downstream players such as rail, barge, truck, warehouse, and “last mile”.  To improve their abysmal service performance, alliances have to find ways of coordinating the entire delivery process.  A standard for the process that shippers, handlers,  and carriers can agree and coordinate on is a central element.

We see alliances as entities capable of incubating the ServiceTerms standards, much as the International Chamber of Commerce does for INCOTERMS.   ServiceTerms could then be included in a standard contract for delivery. The specifics of the ServiceTerms  standard should be negotiated during the incubation process; and the process should allow for individual variations by contract, much as INCOTERMS do.

If the majority of cargo went according to the standard, all the supply chain players would work together to make sure the overall term was met.  That should improve everyone’s focus on the goal of making customer service a standard rather than an exception in the container business.

 

 

   via Standard setting and carrier differentiation at seaports | SpringerLink

Cite this article as:

Clott, C.B., Hartman, B.C. & Cannizzaro, R. J. shipp. trd. (2018) 3: 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41072-018-0035-0

A pdf of the article is available here.