Tag Archives: Software

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Maersk invest in ZigZag Returns

It’s clear that Maersk is making bets as a venture capitalist on young firms with unique value propositions. They have made an investment, via Maersk Growth, in ZigZag, a London-based firm.

I had never heard of ZigZag before.  They offer a SaaS (Software as a service) that allows manufacturers and retailers to manage returns in a one-stop manner.  Their services include hard logistics assets like access to warehouses and sortation centers and access to carriers, as well as just the software.

The story indicates some of what they do.  We all know that returns are a unique type of operation, whose nature differs with the type of industry.  HP has been doing it for many years in the printer division.  But I was interested to find out that there is a lot of interest among clothing manufacturers or retailers.

Apparently people buy clothes, use them for a while, and then return them, even for no refund.  There is also a temptation for retailers to get rid of stale inventory by simply throwing it in a landfill, a sustainability issue.  Easy returns offers an opportunity for a firm that can handle these problems efficiently and in a sustainable manner. (I presume there might be an incentive to cheat; but certainly a specialist could do a better job because it’s their core business).

I doubt that ZigZag will be merged with Maersk.  However, the bet makes sense when you understand that a lot of what Maersk carries is clothing manufactures from the Far East.  If ZigZag can help these clients it could make a difference in the clients’ bottom line, and Maersk would be able to say they helped with the supply chain problems.

Reach ZigZag here: https://www.zigzag.global/

screenshot-Zigzag 2019-11-06

via Maersk invest in ZigZag Returns – Press Release

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SAE International forms microbility data standards consortium

SAE is the former Society of Automotive Engineers, and has been a leader in standard setting for many years.  There is clearly a need for standards around data for shared bike and scooter services, for instance.  The main cooperators are Miami-Dade County, Jump, Spin, and Populus (a data platform).

A similar effort by Los Angeles called the Mobility Data Specification (MDS) led to major complaints from Uber and Lyft, the ride-hailing service operators.   They don’t want to be bound by the rules.  Other cities have been following the MDS as well.

Perhaps such a consortium effort could help resolve these problems. I’m surprised there isn’t communication between the Los Angeles group and the SAE.

screenshot-Smart Cities Dive 2019-05-23   AUTHOR  via SAE International to form microbility data standards consortium | Smart Cities Dive

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Sensors, ‘grey boxes’ and opportunities

 of the Loadstar has a short article about a vision DPWorld has for integrating data and logistics.  He describes some innovative activities. In Yiwu, China DPWorld has an agreement for a project that allows customers to clear cargo through customs before it leaves for Jebel Ali. The DP World representative also pointed out that in the future, each item in a box may carry a sensor.  Box handling equipment could make use of the sensor data (eg, promised delivery dates) to route boxes by a faster or slower route.

It isn’t clear to me how the second method will work out–  I’m reminded of the old Fedex cartoon where the delivery man is swimming ashore to a client on a desert island with a wrapped package, but the stranded client says “But my birthday is tomorrow!”. Rerouting a collection of cargo on the basis of, say, average due date,  is fraught with problems. Are the partners in each supply chain ready for early delivery, or do they want it, or will they actually pay to have it delayed?     I used to have a copy of this cartoon which I showed to my logistics and operations classes, but it’s gotten lost over the years.

There’s no question that improving customs clearance and in fact throughput at any stage will benefit from accurate and easy data interchange.  But for that, you need some standardization, and for it to transform the industry the standards need to be common for the whole industry.  I’m reminded of the effort it took to translate US freight codes to the Harmonized codes used in international traffic.

Standards need to be set, and where they deal with complementary processes they need to be set broadly so that everyone can participate.  That requires some joint standard setting.  It happened for INCOterms, it happened for disk drive interface standards, it happened (more or less) for EDI;  but it takes a village.  One or two firms can’t do it.

logo  via Sensors, ‘grey boxes’ and opportunities in an age where ‘data is the new container’ – The Loadstar