Half 2, Insights from the 2021 Logistics Govt Survey: The New Regular of Logistics

Our recently launched 2021 Logistics Executive Survey aims to seek out the “New Normal of Logistics.”  The survey tracks the pulse of the market as logistics operations are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic to periods of adjustments, redefinition, and eventually a new equilibrium.

In Part 1, we looked at the drivers for investment, logistics technologies and the tightening labor situation. In Part 2, we examine the survey results further and highlight the key points from the LinkedIn Live session on the same topic. During the session, I spoke with two logistics and technologic experts from Blue Yonder: Fab Brasca, GVP, Global Solutions, and Raj Patel, Senior Director of 3PL Global Industry Strategy.

Importance of Sustainability is Growing in Logistics

The survey results highlight the growing importance of sustainability, with 59% of logistics executives (and within that group 71% of those in consumer manufacturing industry) planning to offer flexible delivery windows for online orders to maximize sustainability. The second highlight is the emphasis on identifying sustainable upstream operations in material sourcing, suppliers, and manufacturing.

There are two factors that are driving up the priority of sustainability for organizations, according to Fab:

The first is legislation, with more and more regions actively formulating laws.The second factor is a shift in consumer sentiment.

Fab points out that consumers are now looking to make choices based on sustainability. This in turn effects how companies behave. In the world of logistics, it is easy to make the correlation between sustainability and efficiency in logistics: increasing the efficiency of asset utilization and reduction of empty miles not only reduce the cost of serve, but also drives towards a lower carbon footprint and sustainability metric.

The interesting thing will be how far organizations are willing to go. Will organizations just continue with business as usual and then tag on to the sustainability gains, based upon their own reduction of cost to serve metrics? Or will they start to make decisions that may impact or increase their costs but can drive a lower carbon footprint? For example, if a company is making carrier decisions, will it select a higher cost carrier because the carrier has newer equipment? How will they make decisions to invest in electric vehicles? The clear question ahead will be whether consumer sentiment is enough to force many organizations to make these types of advanced investments.

Raj points out that logistics and manufacturing customers are looking at their supply chain results, resiliency, agility, and now sustainability in order to make sourcing or dual sourcing decisions. North American companies are comparing sourcing products from Asia, which has multiple modes of emissions, to building/sourcing products in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. If companies pay a little bit more per unit to produce products in North America thus reducing the transit time and carbon emission, is the potential extra cost worth the change? Will companies award business to transportation providers because they have electric vehicles and new equipment? How will these factors be measured and how will sustainability be entered into the decision-making process?

The survey results also show that logistics executives are implementing eco-friendly packaging options. From Raj’s perspectives, consumers are definitely making sustainability a factor in their selection process. More and more consumers are buying based on: what they hear about sustainability, eco-friendly packaging, and sustainability tags on products (these tags showcase what percentage of recycled/sustainable material was used to make the product).

For those who put their sustainability efforts on hold during the pandemic, the survey showed that they plan to resume their efforts in the next 12 to 18 months. This means we might know who the real sustainability players are in the logistics space in the next year to two years. If the consumer has anything to say about it, a lot of companies will have to step up their sustainability game. Consumers will keep all that in mind when they’re making that selection, whether online or in stores.

Additional Points of View on Drivers for Investment

In Part 1, we discussed that meeting growing customer expectations is the top priority for logistics executives. Reducing service costs for transportation, warehousing, and labor and improving resiliency toward disruption are the second and third priorities. From Fab’s point of view, many consumers, including himself, used to drive short distances to major retailers to have the experience of seeing and touching products. During the pandemic, we saw a whole wave of consumers making the shift to online engagement and not really venturing out at all.

This is forcing organizations to look at how they can improve their technologies and supply chains. Interestingly, Fab saw an acceleration of digital transformation projects across Blue Yonder’s customer base, as these organizations wanted to solve the following problems right away:

How do I get closer to the customer?How do I deliver better customer experiences?How will new initiatives affect the cost of service, which is still a paramount metric?

To drill down further on the topic of customer experiences, the survey team wanted to understand the most important factors to enhance the experience as the economy transitions to a post-pandemic environment. Logistics executives responded that the most important factor for enhancing consumer experiences post-COVID-19 is maintaining and optimizing convenient fulfillment options, including curbside pickup, BOPIS, and at-home delivery. The Future of Logistics eBook covers how by unifying logistics, organizations have the opportunity to leverage top technologies to achieve omni-channel execution performance and customer-centric supply chain.

Rather surprisingly, the second most important priority is increasing sustainable delivery options. Raj has a unique way to explain the results: what COVID-19 did was to compound five years of e-commerce growth all into one year. Customers are getting used to what he calls the new norm: options. Customers wants to have options, period.

Today, a consumer might buy online and have it delivered. But tomorrow the same consumer might buy online and pick it up at the store. This is happening not just at fashion retailers but grocery stores, restaurants, and boutique retail stores. Raj imagines this trend is going to continue to grow.

The second aspect is that at these stores, there is a separate area dedicated for pick-up. A consumer walks in and picks up whatever he/she ordered online or at the store – and at some stores without speaking to an associate. As a result, retailers are changing their footprints to offer a dedicated line for online order pick-ups. In addition, stores have to cater to curbside pick-ups.

More to Come on Expectation Setting and Expectation Meeting

The third aspect is home delivery. The topic can be divided into two distinct parts: parcel and big bulky. The delivery window is getting tighter and tighter. What are logistics executives tackling increasing customer expectations? In an upcoming blog, we will continue to discuss the technology investment trends and the importance of setting and meeting expectations.

In the meantime, for more information about the Logistics Executive Survey:

Learn more about how Luminate Logistics provides an end-to-end execution platform to help drive flexible, fully autonomous distribution networks.

Watch: The Growing Strain to Guarantee Moral Provide Administration

Are companies taking their eye off the ball when it comes to monitoring the ethics of their suppliers? A discussion with Bill Michels, vice president of operations with CIPS Americas, and Alessandra Tassini-Negri, senior director of strategic sourcing and procurement with Dun & Bradstreet.Ethical lapses by suppliers are especially evident in parts of the world with weak economies or individuals engaged in forced labor. Automation further heightens the risk of fraud from multiple sources, Michels says. Asia in particular is a “hotspot” for bribery and fraud, requiring potential buyers of products from that region to undertake a significant effort of education and communication with the supply base.

Procurement professionals need to be “very vigilant,” says Tassini-Negri. “Make sure that you’re agile, are monitoring relationships, and doing risk assessments.” Companies should be employing data and analytics to identify risks and mitigate potential disruptions.

When it comes to ensuring ethical behavior by one’s suppliers, visibility to their activities is key. Both the right technology and talent need to be in place, and it’s crucial to map the entire supply chain, involving multiple tiers of suppliers. “Many companies only work off tier 1,” says Michels.

The rigorous CIPS ethics test, covering environmental, social and governance actions, is a valuable tool for raising awareness and assessing ethical behavior both within a company and among its many suppliers. All affected individuals need to be able to pass the test. Tassini-Negri says it provides users with a constant “refresher” in the ethics of supply management, and enables them to apply high standards at a functional level.

Tassini-Negri says ensuring ethical behavior of suppliers is an essential requirement for protecting brands, clients and revenue. “It’s the basis for what will make you successful,” she says.

Finish-to-Finish Intermodal Cargo Monitoring Answer | The way it Works

Multimodal shipping is clearly the future of logistics, especially in a world where shipping distances are increasing, and it’s mostly good news if you can efficiently run your intermodal shipment operations.As per the Global Multimodal Freight Transportation Market report (2020 – 2025), “multimodal transport can improve transportation efficiency by 30%, reduce cargo damage by 10%, reduce transportation costs by 20%, reduce highway congestion by more than 50%, and promote energy savings and emissions reduction by more than one third.”
But this kind of exponential growth also requires the intermodal shipment tracking systems to grow at the same pace in terms of technology and efficiency.
The non-linear flow of intermodal cargo has to rely on scheduled and unscheduled transportation by road, rail, air, and ocean. In such cases, just knowing the whereabouts of the shipment at an order level isn’t enough. One also needs to know the exact shipment location and package condition. Not just this, accurate ETA prediction and cold chain compliance are two of the most important aspects when dealing with intermodal shipments, and most shipments these days involve multiple modes. All this is not possible without a well-implemented intermodal shipment tracking system.
Thanks to technology advancements, you can track its journey today. But is it really that easy?
Let’s begin by understanding how complex an intermodal shipping operation is by following a shipment.
The Journey of an Intermodal Shipment
Let’s visualize the steps in an LCL (Less Than Container Load) ocean shipment from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Chicago in the United States.
1. Picked up from the consignor in Kuala Lumpur city.
2. Hauled to the nearby consolidation warehouse in Kuala Lumpur; combined with other LCLs.
3. Hauled to another consolidation location for containerization.
4. Container is then hauled to Port Klang, the nearest seaport.
5. Container is checked-in and export customs clearance at Port Klang in Malaysia.
6. Container is placed in the right bay awaiting its vessel journey.
7. Once the vessel arrives, it is loaded onto the vessel and reaches the New York port in USA.
8. Between Kuala Lumpur and New York, the container could possibly undergo transshipment at another port.
9. Upon reaching New York, the container is unloaded and placed in the right bay to await import clearance processes.
10. Within port operations, it may move locations multiple times to complete the clearance checklist.
11. Upon successful clearance, the container is hauled for deconsolidation.
12. After deconsolidation, it undertakes its last-mile journey to Chicago and within Chicago for delivery to the consignee.
You will notice that the intermodal shipment in this example is touched (physically handled) at least ten times in the process by different actors in the chain of custody. It travels through 3 different modes, is checked in/out through at least 5 transshipment points, and is consolidated and deconsolidated at least twice.
In an intermodal shipment, i.e., one that involves many of these transporters, transshipment points, and touchpoints, it is often hard to get end-to-end visibility. It is even harder to know if the shipment reached its destination on time and in good condition, especially if the container requires active cooling.
Therefore, let us look at the approaches to getting visibility on a multimodal shipment, how they work, and which one would best suit a multimodal shipment.
1. Carrier Data Aggregation Approach for Intermodal Shipment Tracking
Real-time transportation visibility platforms (RTTVPs) collect data from the carrier or transporter telematics, ships, flights, and other crowdsourced feeds to offer visibility. Telematics hardware (for the first and last mile) is usually owned by the carriers or transporters and integrated with the visibility platform (if they are present).
Users typically pay a small fee just to access the aggregation platform; there is no cost associated with the hardware. Data from multiple touchpoints are collated and presented on a portal or accessed using APIs.
This is the easiest route to visibility, but it comes with several drawbacks. These systems don’t solve the challenge of verifiability, data cohesiveness, and actionability as it relies on these numerous actors in the supply chain for supplying data.
Here are a few examples of the challenges that multimodal/intermodal shipments face when it comes to aggregating data as an approach to getting end-to-end visibility:
1. Visibility is not real-time — The ELD or telematics data is aggregated through APIs, and not always is the visibility data instant or a reflection of the present.
2. No definitive first & last mile visibility — The information you get from your multimodal transport operators (MTOs) is mostly incomplete and unverifiable. Sometimes this information is manually gathered or not available at all, making it even more unreliable.
3. Order-level visibility at best — If you are shipping LCL cargo or need item-level information, these platforms cannot always verify it as most vessels and airlines share data at an order level.
4. Lack of condition monitoring data — The data is at an order, truck, ship, or flight level. Without knowledge of condition excursion on the way, you wouldn’t be able to prevent the contamination or damage before the consignment reaches the destination.
5. Approximate ETA predictions at best — With multiple data streams coming in without verifiability, it is impossible to get accurate ETAs. Such erroneous shipment location renders this data worthless for decision-making or logistics automation.
6. Hurdles during Black Swan events — Failures in communication and collaboration could result in significant limitations for multimodal shipping management. During times of disruption, like the recent pandemic or the Ever Given traffic pile up at the Suez Canal, these failures become even more conspicuous and cause additional delays.
Carrier data aggregation platforms may be a good place to start, but it offers only a certain amount of value. Furthermore, not all carriers will have the same quality standards for collecting data; some would have different approaches, and some might not even have a proper visibility system. This makes the data unverifiable.
To break this chain of scattered visibility and non-uniform data quality, an approach that relies on firsthand data, with sensors, and without relying on the actors in the supply chain is used.
2. IoT Sensor Approach for Intermodal Shipment Tracking
Cargo logistics tracking & monitoring solutions offer directly collected IoT-enabled sensor information from end to end.
1As per Gartner’s 2021 ‘Gartner Tracking and Monitoring Business Process Context: Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms’ report, “In real-time transportation visibility platforms (RTTVPs), the data is collected from the carrier rather than from independent IoT devices as in the case of tracking and monitoring solutions.” The report further states, “It can also extend the visibility beyond the delivery of the product and is often used to track the location and condition of the product in the yard or the warehouse.”
Data is more verifiable as an IoT sensor captures it without relying on the actors in the chain of custody. You also get end-to-end item-level tracking and condition in real-time through most of the journey.
Today, there is also technology to log condition data when connectivity doesn’t exist (such as over air or ocean) and automatically upload it to the cloud when connectivity resumes.
However, using a pure sensor-data approach cannot always help with intermodal shipment tracking actionably, not offering ease of visibility access.
1. Not all sensors are purpose-built for multimodal — Air shipments require a certain battery life, reporting interval, and IATA/airline compliances, especially when it comes to sensitive pharma goods. Ocean shipments need batteries that last months or alternate charging options. The sensors must be able to cater to these use-cases purposefully.
2. Sensor ownership & management — Sensors are purchased or rented, but if you invest in sensors, you will need to manage the sensor inventory, utilize the sensors effectively, handle its reverse logistics, or pay a CapEx.
3. Lack of visibility context makes it unactionable — Most sensor portals offer the location and condition trail but cannot verifiably predict in seconds if it will arrive on time, whether you need to act on a temperature rise or if the security of the shipment is intact.
For example, knowing that a shipment is at the right airport is only half the story. Has it been shifted to the right bay? Has it boarded the right flight? Knowing these data points ahead of time can save hours or days in re-planning and re-routing cargo.
Therefore, sensor data plug much of the gaps of carrier data aggregation, but it alone cannot enable decision-making, that too instantly and verifiably, which is where the blended approach comes in.
3. Blended ‘Sensor + Non-Sensor’ Platform Approach
This approach combines purpose-built IoT sensors (the “physical”) with non-sensor intelligence (the “digital”) — blended on a real-time location-aware platform. It offers better context to sensor data and makes it more verifiable and actionable, enabling prompt decisions and logistics automation.
This approach offers better supply chain visibility than the carrier-based or pure sensor-based approach. The key to a verifiably better supply chain is to carefully pick the quality of the non-sensor digital streams to blend with the physical, often captured directly from the source.
If done right, blended sensor-driven signals offer end-to-end trust with:
1. Verifiable visibility — To implement quick decisions, improve operational efficiency, and elevate the customer experience.
For example, blending the digital aspect of port operations with verifiable sensor location and condition tells you if an FCL/LCL got loaded onto the right vessel, if it’s traveling in agreeable temperature/humidity, if it is secure, or if it is stuck in the customs clearance queue.
2. Contextual visibility — SLAs (Service-Level Agreements) throughout the shipment’s journey can be assessed in real-time verifiably across routes, airport operations, port operations, delivery timelines, shipment condition, documentation, past performance, current conditions, and chain of custody.
3. Accurate signals — ETA calculations built on blended platform data can be verifiably better, and cold chain compliance of over 80% can be achieved.
In Summary…
Real-time intermodal shipment monitoring is like virtually traveling with your shipment everywhere it goes, by truck, by rail, by air, or by ocean, with minimal reliance on data from actors involved in the supply chain.
In view of the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches in cargo logistics tracking, especially for intermodal shipments, Roambee opted for a blended approach through its immersive location-aware platform and purpose-built, award-winning sensors.
Blended sensor + non-sensor visibility & intelligence helps in strategic decision-making, ultimately meaning better supply chain visibility and better ROI. The system makes sure that the shipper doesn’t have to rely on unverifiable data from carriers nor spend time stitching together sensor data points to tell the entire story.

Change to Crypto Provision in Infrastructure Invoice Blocked

A change to cryptocurrency reporting rules in the infrastructure bill was blocked in the Senate Monday, leaving language for broad oversight of virtual currencies still in the legislation that’s set to pass the Senate.The amendment was designed to address concerns from the cryptocurrency industry that the original bill would require entities, like miners and software developers, to report tax data to the Internal Revenue Service that they didn’t have access to. The change was proposed after days of negotiations between three Republicans — Pat Toomey, Cynthia Lummis and Rob Portman — and two Democrats, Mark Warner and Kyrsten Sinema.

The amendment’s failure represents a blow to the crypto industry, which had pushed hard in recent weeks for more narrowly targeted oversight. Portman has said there are other ways to clarify the bill’s language, including Senate floor speeches to show the lawmakers’ intent and additional guidance from the Treasury Department. Lummis said Congress will have to revisit the issue.

“All that means is we’re gonna have to fight this another day because it’s important that the Congress define these terms and create a level playing field,” Lummis said in an interview. “Going forward this fall we’re gonna have to be much more proactive about defining terms in this space so people can still innovate.”

The infrastructure bill, and the crypto language, are still a distance from becoming law. The legislation has to be taken up by the House, where changes could be made.

Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, said in a statement that the trade group and its member organizations will be “engaging with members of the House of Representatives to ensure the unclear and unworkable aspects of this provision are removed once and for all.”

Republican Representative Tom Emmer tweeted Monday that he and his co-chairs of the bipartisan Blockchain Caucus sent a letter to other House members urging the language be changed.

The amendment was sunk in a series of procedural maneuvers under Senate rules that allow a single senator to shoot down another senator’s idea. The infrastructure bill is in the final stages of consideration, so amendments require the consent of every senator.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby sought to include with the crypto provision his amendment for $50 billion in additional military construction money — a poison pill for Democrats. Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, objected to Shelby’s provision, and Shelby refused to consent to the crypto change without the military funds.

“Because there’s a difference of opinion on whether or not the senator from Alabama should get a vote on his amendment, because that is not agreed to, the body is refusing to take up an amendment that has broad bipartisan support,” Toomey said on the Senate floor. “In what universe does this make any sense?”

Disagreement over which amendments to consider, including those targeting crypto, has bogged down the infrastructure debate process for days, and no additional changes are likely to be made to the bill before passage in the Senate.

The Senate is wrapping up debate on the $550 billion infrastructure bill and is likely to vote on final passage Tuesday.

This Delight Month, I’m Respecting the Privilege of Coming Out

Every year as Pride month comes around, I talk a lot about courage. As a gay man who grew up on a dirt road in rural Louisiana during the ‘80s, I’ve needed enormous amounts of courage my entire life — the courage to stand up to bullies, the courage to come out to my conservative, religious parents, the courage to move across the country and live a life that’s open and free.

Being myself has meant life-long anxiety, years of therapy, and cutting off friends and family who insisted I was going straight to hell. So I’ve always thought, “If I can do it, anybody can.” 

All they needed was just more courage.

This past year in isolation due to COVID-19 restrictions has given me a lot of time to look myself in the mirror and face some monsters I didn’t even know existed. Yes, I’ve had struggles, and yes, I should be proud of being courageous. But I’ve also had to acknowledge that coming out was a privilege. Growing up solidly middle class, getting an education, having the financial resources to support myself, and surrounding myself with caring, accepting people made my life today possible. 

And as kind, loving, and non-judgmental as I have always tried to be, I’ve realized that I’ve held an implicit bias against those who aren’t out. Parades, rainbow flags, holding a significant other’s hand… none of that was for them. Somewhere deep down, in the dark place we don’t like to acknowledge, I’ve kept these people in a second-class LGBTQ+ status. 

They weren’t worthy of Pride — they hadn’t earned it yet.

I’m embarrassed it took me so long to see just how wrong I’ve been. Who was I to think I was somehow superior because of my struggles? Where were my empathy and compassion? Why did I think life was a competition for who had the toughest journey?

Whether a person comes out today, or in 10 years — or never — is none of my business and definitely not something for me to judge. I can’t know what situations may be in another person’s life. Maybe they live in a place where it’s unsafe to be out; maybe they don’t have the resources to live on their own if they’re rejected; or maybe they simply don’t want to.

I never discount the amount of courage queer people need in order to be their true, authentic selves. It takes a lot… trust me. But this year, I want to also acknowledge my privilege of being out, and I’d like to speak directly to the LGBTQ+ community who aren’t:

I see you. You’re perfect exactly the way you are. I’m deeply sorry for my past judgments, and I hope you feel every bit of love I’m sending you. Pride month isn’t about wearing a rainbow tank top, dancing to Lady Gaga until sunrise, or even kissing the love of your life — it’s knowing everyone is worthy of respect, no matter their journey.

I am proud of you for having the courage to be here.

Senate Passes $550 Billion Infrastructure Plan in Win for Biden

The Senate passed a $550 billion infrastructure plan that would represent the biggest burst of spending on U.S. public works in decades, sending the legislation to the House where its fate is in the hands of the fractious Democratic caucus.The bipartisan 69-30 vote Tuesday marked a significant victory for President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. It was a breakthrough that has eluded Congress and presidents for years, despite both parties calling infrastructure a priority and an issue ripe for compromise.

“This legislation will create benefits in communities across the country for decades to come,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Nineteen Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined with all 50 senators who caucus with Democrats to support the bill.

The bipartisan spirit will quickly give way, however, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately pivoted to a partisan budget resolution that will lead to a $3.5 trillion package of social spending and tax increases.

Senate passage of the infrastructure bill came after months of negotiations and days of slow-moving Senate debate during which Republicans opposed to the legislation forced Democrats to run out the clock on procedural motions.

“It’s been a long and winding road but we have persisted and now we have arrived,” Schumer said before the vote.

The bill still faces hurdles in the House, which is scheduled to be on break until Sept. 20. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, under pressure from progressives who want their priorities addressed, has said she will not allow a vote on the bipartisan package until the Senate has passed the broader economic plan. Moderates, meanwhile, are clamoring for the House to take up the bill sooner than that.

Five leaders of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats, issued a statement Tuesday calling for Pelosi to swiftly bring the infrastructure bill to a vote.

The Blue Dog co-chairs said they “remain opposed to any effort to unnecessarily delay consideration of these critical infrastructure investments, which will create good-paying jobs, keep American businesses competitive, and grow our nation’s economy.”

Their statement follows a similar letter to Pelosi from several other House moderates calling for a quick vote on the roads and bridges bill.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, in turn, released a statement saying that a majority of its 96 members won’t vote for the infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the budget package.

Pelosi applauded Senate passage of the infrastructure bill on Tuesday and gave no indication she would change her strategy of linking the two economic packages.

Still, the Senate vote after months of fraught negotiations was a crucial first step for both Biden’s economic agenda and his broader hopes of showing the world Washington can work again to solve big problems after a particularly divisive era in American politics.

If the infrastructure package ultimately clears both chambers, every state would feel the effects. It includes about $110 billion in new spending for roads and bridges, $73 billion for power grid upgrades, $66 billion for rail and Amtrak, and $65 billion for broadband expansion. It also provides $55 billion for clean water and $39 billion for transit.

Biden had dispatched top aides to negotiate directly with a group of Republican and Democratic senators putting the bill together and engaged personally with meetings and phone calls. The vote also is a significant achievement for Schumer and the bipartisan group of 22 senators led by Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who stepped in after initial negotiations between the White House and Republicans collapsed in June.

Republicans can claim a victory in that the package includes big spending on their priorities without raising taxes, while Biden can lay claim to an accomplishment decades in the making without including unpopular gas taxes or other levies that would have hit the middle class.

The Senate was unable to get unanimous consent to approve a bipartisan effort to replace a cryptocurrency tax reporting provision with a more narrowly targeted measure that would require certain digital currency exchanges to report data to the Internal Revenue Service. The cryptocurrency industry said the original version unfairly targeted them and was too broad in scope.

Other bipartisan attempts to alter the bill, including an amendment that would allow state and local governments to use some of their unspent Covid relief funds on infrastructure projects, also fell by the wayside.

The Congressional Budget Office said the infrastructure legislation would add $256 billion to the federal budget deficit over the next decade. The CBO has previously forecast the deficit would hit $3 trillion this year alone before narrowing to $1.15 trillion in 2022.

Republicans who opposed the plan as too expensive cited the CBO’s prediction of additional debt and warned the bill could spur additional inflation.

But some of the senators who drew up the legislation contended the bill would be paid for by a variety of means that the CBO couldn’t account for.

“The new spending under the bill is offset through a combination of new revenue and savings, some of which is reflected in the formal CBO score and some of which is reflected in other savings and additional revenue identified in estimates, as CBO is limited in what it can include in its formal score,” Portman and Sinema said in a joint statement.

Budget on Tap

With the bipartisan deal out of the Senate, Schumer turned immediately to setting the stage for Biden’s $3.5 trillion economic package, a partisan drive to overhaul policies on climate change, taxes, health care, immigration and other areas.

Schumer plans to force a vote on the fiscal blueprint that helps them trigger a Senate procedure that would short-circuit a GOP filibuster. Republicans in turn can make the process painful by forcing numerous amendment votes via an all-night process known as a vote-a-rama.

The Biden administration and Democratic leaders want to pack that resulting package, which would move forward after the August recess, with tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for spending on a broad social agenda, including child care, middle class tax cuts, paid family leave and subsidies for higher education.

But Biden and Schumer will need every Democratic vote in the 50-50 Senate, including moderates like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sinema, who insisted on and led the push for the bipartisan deal but aren’t sold on the price tag or all of Biden’s proposed tax hikes.

Democrats have decided not to tee up a debt limit increase with only Democratic votes as part of their budget blueprint. They could instead try to force Republicans to help raise the debt limit by attaching it to a must-pass bill to keep the government open after Sept. 30.

Maersk Acquires E-Commerce Logistics Firms in U.S. and Europe

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S has acquired Salt Lake City-based Visible Supply Chain Management, a business-to-consumer (B2C) logistics company focused on parcel delivery and fulfillment services, for $838 million, the world’s largest container line announced Friday. Maersk also announced the intention to acquire B2C Europe Holding B.V., a B2C parcel delivery company based in the Netherlands.“Today, customers rely on the integrated logistics approach and services which Maersk offers,” said Vincent Clerc, CEO of Maersk Ocean & Logistics. “By combining that with the operating models and value proposition of Visible SCM and B2C Europe, we will enable our customers to continue to develop their e-commerce offering, thus extending the scope and potential of our strategic partnerships. The acquisitions will provide Maersk with a strong growth platform in the rapidly evolving field of e-commerce, where our investments in digitalization and integration will create significant synergies and make a big difference for customers’ ability to sell across multiple channels effectively.”

“Integrating our company with Maersk aligns with our values and strategic goal to scale our services to reach more customers with our proven business model,” said Jared Starling, CEO of Visible. “Together we can be a trusted partner across all customers’ supply chains and bring our B2C expertise to Maersk customers with online sales fulfillment, parcel delivery and supply chain visibility in an end-to-end offering.”

B2C Europe CEO José Vega Vazquez added: “We are proud and look forward to playing a key part in enabling Maersk to enhance its integrated logistics value proposition. Bringing our expertise and competencies together will offer customers a unique opportunity to take control and drive flexibility into their B2C supply chains.”

Specializing in What Issues Most

Gaurav Behere works in product development at Blue Yonder and share some of the most impactful learnings he’s had while living – and working – through a pandemic. From adjusting to working from home for the first time, and realizing what matters most in life (hint: it’s not ‘things,’ but family, health, life), Gaurav lives with empathy, gratitude and an enthusiasm for his job (with a little drumming on the side!).

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and brought up in a middle-class family in a city called Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, India. I had an amazing childhood, played a lot of cricket, made a lot of friends and studied a lot too.

I am a very spiritual person and I believe being honest to yourself and to people around you is the right thing to do and it always pays off.

I’ve also always been interested in music and wanted to play but didn’t have the right resources. During my first job I learned drumming and after I moved to Bangalore, I started a band. We did a few stage-shows. Now drumming is an integral part of my life.

What is your role at Blue Yonder? What’s your favorite part?

I am a UI architect. I love the fact that I am learning and challenged every day. This is the part that keeps me motivated and excited about my job. The design challenges, UX inputs I can give where I get an opportunity to empathize with the users and wear an end user’s hat to propose solutions makes my job worth it!

What did you do before you came to Blue Yonder?

I was managing a product team at PayPal. I was a bit hesitant to take a management role as I love coding and designing solutions and I wanted that to be the dominant part of my work. But I took the opportunity as I wanted the management experience. My job included talking to customers, understanding their pain points and incorporating their feedback in the product.

I had a team of seven developers, and focused a lot on their career paths, and was spending a lot of time in 1:1 meetings. I found I was moving away from what I really loved – coding – and was doing more management. While I learned a lot during that role, it made me realize I wanted to get back to my core career focus.  

There are silver linings to be had in strife, and this pandemic has certainly caused a lot of strife. What have you learned by experiencing a pandemic?

I realized that the things which we were caring about most are very materialistic and when the dire need comes those are not the things you will need. You need people, relations, good health and empathy. The pandemic changed my outlook towards life. Working from home has brought me a lot closer to my family and friends. I care about them much more than before; this is something that is going to continue from now on.

What has it been like to work from home for the first time?

Initially it was not going well. There was an infinite loop of meetings which was very difficult for me to adjust to. So I started prioritizing work and which meetings I took and which meetings I recommended turn into a Microsoft Teams chat or email. I also realized I did not need to attend every meeting and I started taking short breaks during the day and that helped.

Empathy has been a huge theme over the last year. How have put this into practice?

Many times, people around you need your time and they need you just to listen and understand what they are going through or how they have been. I now take more time to talk to people around me, relatives and friends I haven’t talked to for a long time. You realize that people feel better when they know somebody is listening and there is somebody around to talk to. I reached out to friends on Facebook I hadn’t talked to in a long time. We have reconnected and are actually having video conversations now. It is nice!

What’s one piece of advice you would have given your younger self?

Invest in your health. Money can still be earned.

How has your life experience made you who you are you are today?

My family and I lacked resources while I was growing up. That experience has helped me understand the value of resources. We tend to take things for granted when those things are readily available to us. I had strong moral values ingrained in me which helps in making the right decisions in life and I feel I have a lot more empathy towards others.

Can you point to a critical moment in your career that really made a difference in your path?

I was working at a company called NDS (currently known as Synamedia), there I got to learn HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript while this stack was just beginning to grow and become popular. I was lucky enough to learn these skills just before they became the hot trend. This expertise helped give me an edge in an industry that had a lot of demand and competition, and I was ahead of others in learning HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript when others were just beginning to learn it

Have you ever realized you had an unconscious bias? What did you do about it?

It always made me wonder why somebody is not able to work at the same speed I could. I realized I am biased. I understood people have their limitations in terms of knowledge, resources, ability to understand things and implement them. We all work and learn differently.

I realized this bias when I was challenged to work on Scala which is a backend technology and not my forte. I struggled to understand the concepts of Scala and felt I was inferior in discussions on it. This made me realize that when we are put into a new situation, everyone is uncomfortable and doesn’t understand right away and I shouldn’t be biased about it.

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is someone that you look up to and aspire to become.

How do you practice wellbeing?

I do yoga regularly. I practice drumming. I love cooking and I try new recipes during weekends.

What’s one fun (or surprising) fact about you?

I have watched so many time travel movies and documentaries that I strongly believe one day I will really travel through time.

This brings me to my fun fact – I wanted to join the Army. I appeared twice and flunked both the attempts. In one of the attempts I answered the final question to the interview poorly and that question caused me to fail the test.  If I had a time machine I would like to go back in time, change my answer and join the Army!

Signposts and Roadblocks on the Path to Inexperienced Provide Chains

It’s tough finding a global supply chain today that isn’t nominally committed to achieving a green future. But coming up with a road map for reaching that destination takes more than inspiring words in an annual statement.Major brands like Walmart Inc., Microsoft Corp. and McDonald’s Corp. realize that true sustainability can only be obtained through cooperation among all supply chain partners, well beyond the walls of the executive suite. So many have undertaken the task of auditing the entities involved in getting their products to market.

Step one lies in creating transparency, a word that can be anything but transparent in meaning when it comes to acquiring insight into the operations of one’s partners. Yet having achieved that initial goal, companies must then define precisely what they expect of those partners, in terms of specific initiatives aimed at greening the supply chain.

In broad terms, buyers of raw materials, components and finished goods are asking suppliers “to take more of a sustainable approach to how they do business,” says Andrew Thomas, vice president of customer insights with Enel X North America. That means reaching for the goal of becoming “environmentally neutral,” and setting specific targets toward that end.

Much of the work to date has been focused on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, first and second of three stages defined by the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. Scope 1 relates to emissions from sources directly controlled by the organization in question. They include stationary sources such as boilers and turbines, and mobile assets such as vehicles. Scope 2 describes indirect GHG emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, steam, heat or cooling from outside sources.

The biggest challenge lies in getting a handle on Scope 3 emissions, those generated by assets neither owned nor controlled by the reporting organization. Into that category falls a wide variety of upstream and downstream supply chain partners.

So how do companies define best practices in energy, emissions and resource usage, for themselves as well as for their universe of vendors? One invaluable guide is that of the Science-Based Targets (SBT) initiative, which offers what it calls “a clearly defined” path toward reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on mitigating climate change.

More than 1,500 companies are working within the SBT framework, and about half have adopted its levels and timetables for emissions reductions over a set period of time, Thomas says. Key to the success of their efforts is, once again, that magic word: transparency, in this case referring to the need to publicly disclose progress toward reducing their carbon footprint.

Organizations need to temper their idealism with the reality of what they can actually achieve, Thomas says. Measures that have yielded tangible success to date include the purchase of renewable power and conversion of fleets to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.

Reality steps in when such efforts affect the bottom line. Companies and their often-impatient investors much be willing to absorb a certain amount of higher costs up front, as they transition to cleaner energy sources. Thomas acknowledges the debate that’s occurring at the executive level, as sustainability champions struggle to sell the long-term benefits of green supply chains.

As it happens, the cost of launching sustainability initiatives might be overstated. “Based on some of the work we’re doing,” Thomas says, “we see that value can be created without incremental investment. There could be balance-sheet implications, but it can be cost-neutral in the long run.” He cites the use of long-term agreements for the purchase of renewable energy, at a cost equivalent to that of ground power over the life of the contract.

There’s some evidence that top management, boards of directors and investors are seeing the light. Thomas cites a recent survey by McKinsey & Co. of corporate decision makers on the topic of sustainability. Forty percent said they viewed such initiatives as driving value across the organization over a five-year term. According to McKinsey, “value-creating companies are more likely than others to make sustainability an element of their corporate culture and train employees on how to integrate sustainability into their work.”

But another McKinsey report identifies a potential roadblock to winning the backing of investors for sustainability initiatives. It finds investors unwilling to use companies’ sustainability disclosures as the basis for making investment decisions, due to a lack of shared standards when it comes to such reporting.

In any case, Thomas believes major organizations are generally making good on their pledge to achieve sustainability and carbon neutrality throughout their supply chains, to the point of investing in specific projects with demonstrable benefits.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about how to make sure that companies follow through on their commitments,” he says. “Leaders in this space are very aware of that. But they continue to innovate, and drive to the next frontier.”

Mergers, acquisitions operating at quick tempo in booming trucking market

The current spate of trucking mergers and acquisitions will continue as long as low interest rates, the driver shortage, and favorable economic conditions for carriers remain, top industry experts say.

The summer headlines in the transport press on notable trucking M&A activity have been impossible to ignore.

To wit:

Uber Freight is acquiring third-party logistics planning company Transplace, a deal valued at $2.25 billion. Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan said the deal would give shippers “greater efficiency and transparency, “as well as improving carriers’ operating ratios. “All in all, we expect to significantly reduce shipper and carrier empty miles to the benefit of highway and road infrastructures and the environment,” he added; 
Knight-Swift, the nation’s largest truckload carrier, bought less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier AAA Cooper for $1.35 billion. Knight-Swift CEO Dave Jackson said the acquisition fulfilled “a long interest” to enter the LTL space. “I couldn’t be happier to finally find the right time for both of us to create a partnership,” Jackson added;
Werner Enterprises, the nation’s seventh-largest truckload carrier with more than $2.4 billion revenue last year, is acquiring 80% of rival TL carrier ECM Transport Group to expand its presence in the strategic Mid-Atlantic, Ohio and Northeast regions. The acquisition boosts Omaha, Neb.-based Werner’s fleet by more than 6% as well as increasing coverage for regional short-haul freight in these geographic markets. ECM operates nearly 500 trucks and 2,000 trailers in a network of eight terminals; and
PS Holdco, parent of PS Logistics, purchased all substantial transportation assets of Patriot Transit and Patriot Logistics, a privately owned interstate trucking and logistics provider that specializes in flatbed shipping io the Gulf Coast and in the Southwest. Patriot, founded by David Spencer and Rex Ready, is based in Houston and operates a fleet of 75 experienced driversThose outright mergers and acquisitions follow the move by XPO, the nation’s second-largest LTL carrier, to spin off its contract logistics division. That allows XPO to concentrate on its premier position in the $46 billion-a-year LTL space. Matt Fassler, XPO chief strategy officer, simply noted, “The pricing environment is very healthy.”

This action follows Montreal-based TFI International’s $800 million acquisition of the former LTL unit of United Parcel Service, which bought Overnite Corp. for $1.3 billion in 2005.

Rebranded as “TForce Freight,” the LTL operator posted an operating ratio of just over 90 in the first quarter—dramatic improvement for a company posting ORs of around 99 prior to the sale. Parent company TFI said second-quarter net income soared 398% to $251.1 million compared with $50.5 million in the 2020 second quarter.

The Canadian company began paring “low-hanging fruit” of the LTL carrier’s unprofitable freight and shippers, according to its CEO Alain Bedard.

“We’ve just scratched the surface,” Bedard told financial analysts in a recent conference call. 

Cowen trucking analyst Jason Seidl called the TForce’s  results “well ahead of expectations.”

So what’s driving this current M&A craze in trucking?

Trucking executive, experts and financial analysts say it’s a combination of nearly record-low interest rates, technology applications and perhaps the strongest freight market for carriers in a generation.

Another driving force is the inability of carriers to expand organically because it is nearly impossible to add qualified drivers. An acquisition is the quickest way to expand a fleet without the cost of buying additional trucks and finding qualified drivers.

Donald Broughton, principal and managing partner of Broughton Capital LLC, which closely tracks the trucking industry, chalked up the increased M&A activity to low interest rates, which makes debt inexpensive.

“Technology allows for improvements in economies of scale,” Broughton told LM. “The larger networks become ever more efficient. Technology magnifies lane density and velocity.”

Nearly record-low interest rates, which makes long-term financing attractive for carriers, is a major factor behind these acquisitions.

Toward that end, David Jones, director of global investment strategy at Bank of America, recently told Marketwatch, “In the next 5,000 years, rates will rise, but there’s no fear on Wall Street this happens anytime soon.”

Bank of America recently pointed out there was a record weekly inflow to Treasury inflation-protected securities of $3.2 billion. In another sign of low interest rates, the 10-Year Treasury Inflation-Indexed security yielded a record low negative 1.15% in early August.

Avery Vise, vice president of trucking for research firm FTR, said he expected further M&A activity in trucking because of the changing nature of ground transportation.

“That’s going to be a trend,” Vise said recently. “Time was when shippers used to move stuff via either truckload or LTL. But those labels don’t really matter any longer. So I think we’re going to see more of that.”

Broughton agreed, adding he expected the current M&A trends to continue because the Federal Reserve has signaled it intends to keep the federal borrowing rate near historical lows.

“The advantages of scale will only increase,” Broughton added.

Because there are more than 700,000 registered trucking companies at the Department of Transportation, Broughton said the slightly condensed trucking market is nowhere close to scrimping choices for shippers.

“We’re nowhere near monopoly or oligopoly conditions for that to be a concern,” he said. “The same technology that magnifies scale (for carriers) also provides price discovery for shippers. Gouging can’t last for longer than a single transaction.”

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