Contactless supply pilot throughout pandemic brings efficiencies to the CPG provide chain, notes report

The Consumer Brands Association recently released an operational standard for contactless freight pickup and delivery designed to empower companies to shift from an archaic paper-based delivery process to a digitized supply chain.

Spokesmen say this will enhance safety, increase productivity and bring transparency to every employee involved in the end-to-end supply chain ecosystem.At the beginning of the pandemic, the consumer packaged goods industry faced the enormous dilemma of continuing to produce and deliver the essential products Americans needed to stay home and stay safe, while also protecting the health and safety of truck drivers, CPG facility employees and their families.

In June 2020, Consumer Brands and its partners Vector, Accenture and Coyote Logistics convened the Contactless Freight Pickup and Delivery Task Force, comprised of CPG companies, carriers and retailers to solve this problem.“The COVID-19 pandemic forced CPG and our adjacent industries to rapidly innovate and accelerate technologies to keep our workforce safe and ensure store shelves remained stocked,” says Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association. “As we emerge from the pandemic, companies are taking the best lessons learned — like the contactless operational standard — and applying them to maximize efficiencies as the industry shifts from the challenges of COVID-19 to unprecedented cost pressures and inflation.”The operational standard is a set of data requirements for the critical steps in the pickup and delivery process, from the moment drivers arrive at a facility ready to pick up CPG goods to the moment they make their delivery.

The collaborative workflows create a “control tower” view of the entire supply chain, improving visibility and aligning to key performance indicators. By digitizing the pickup and delivery process, the contactless standard eliminates an estimated 2 tons of paper per year at each facility, protects driver and employee health by reducing physical interaction and lowers costs by reducing the amount of time spent by drivers and facility employees at each pickup or drop off.

On average, the contactless delivery workflows reduced driver dwell time by 40 minutes at each facility, giving drivers more time on the road. By adopting the standard, stakeholders can operate more efficiently and better serve the consumer.“The supply chain and trucking industries rely on surprisingly old-fashioned systems — paperwork, and lots of it,” says Tom Madrecki, vice president of supply chain and logistics at Consumer Brands. “Consumer Brands’ Contactless Freight Pickup and Delivery Task Force has taken a significant step forward to accelerate progress, creating a data and technology standard for how companies can become contactless and eliminate paperwork.”

He adds that the potential to save time, money, employee resources and the environment is on the table, and they are only scratching the surface.

“Leveraging the contactless standard and replacing paper with digital transactions is a no-brainer for any shipper or receiver, enabling next-generation supply chains to become more efficient and resilient,” he concludes.Chris Adderton, vice president, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, is among those members who endorses the findings.

“Based on the validation provided by the pilot programs, it is clear building to a standard will provide a safer, more efficient and more accurate pickup and delivery process which will improve the performance of the supply chain,” he says.Nick Shroeger, chief network solutions officer, Coyote Logistics, concurs.

“As a global third-party logistics provider, we work with thousands of carriers every day and we understand the pain points that inhibit driver adoption,” he says. “From our point of view, creating a new standard is arguably more valuable than any one piece of new technology that is introduced in our industry.”Digitization and automation are key to building more resilient supply chains, concludes Will Chu, co-founder and CEO, Vector.

“As the technology advisor in the task force, it was important for us to develop an open standard which gave logistics partners the flexibility to become contactless with their technology of choice.”

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Locus Robotics reaches half-a-billion items picked milestone

Locus Robotics, a provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for fulfillment warehouses, today announced they have surpassed the half-a-billion-units-picked milestone. This new achievement was attained just 94 days after Locus reached their 400M level.

“Reaching our half-billion pick milestone this quickly underscores the critical business value that Locus’s proven technology brings to our customers around the world as they face exploding order volumes and limited labor availability,” said Rick Faulk, CEO, Locus Robotics.” As ecommerce volumes increase, the pace of picking with LocusBots is also increasing exponentially. Locus’s first 100-million milestone took 1,542 days while the most recent 100 million picks took just 94 days. Locus is proud to have helped our customers efficiently meet this challenge while positioning them for success today, and easily-scalable growth in the future.”

The 500 millionth pick was made at a VF Corporation Fulfillment Center in Prague, Czech Republic and the item picked was a pair of Vans Old Skool Shoes.

As more shoppers continue to buy online and as businesses prepare for what is expected to be a record-breaking holiday season, retailers and fulfillment warehouse operators are turning to AMRs to meet growing demand and mitigate labor shortages to avoid the risk of losing valuable customers.

“DHL Supply Chain is committed to bringing innovative and productivity-enhancing technology to our customers with partners like Locus so that they have the capacity and flexibility to capitalize on new opportunities in the marketplace,” said Adrian Kumar, Vice President, Global Operations Science, DHL Supply Chain. “We congratulate Locus on this momentous achievement and look forward to continuing to work with Locus to drive productivity, support capacity growth, and deliver continuous improvement within our customers’ supply chains.”

LocusBots have now traveled more than 3 million miles in customers’ warehouses, the equivalent of more than 120 times around the Earth.

“Innovation and an unrelenting drive towards customer success have no doubt been drivers in this achievement.” Says John Santagate, Vice President of Robotics at Körber Supply Chain. “500M picks handled on LocusBots is quite the milestone.  Congratulations to the Locus team and here’s to the next 500M”

Locus Robotics’ robotics fulfillment solution enables brands, retailers, and third-party logistics (3PL) operators to easily meet higher order volumes and increasing consumer demand for e-commerce, retail, omnichannel, and manufacturing order fulfillment. Global customers, including CEVA, DHL, Boots UK, GEODIS, Whiplash, Saddle Creek, Quiet 3PF, Radial, and others, are doubling or tripling their fulfillment productivity while lowering labor recruitment, training, and retention costs.

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Logility companions with Körber to broaden capabilities

Logility, a leading vendor of supply chain planning solutions, today announced a collaboration with Körber to elevate its suite of solutions. Now, Logility customers have access to Körber’s warehouse and transportation management solutions, allowing organizations to optimize their end-to-end supply chains.

As demand-planning and transparency have become vital to the success of supply chains, an alliance between Logility and Körber will help customers adapt quickly during times of uncertainty, mitigating risk and bringing added value to both solutions, the partners stated.

“This collaboration provides Logility and Körber customers with access to end-to-end supply chain solutions,” said Ed Hamlin, Senior Vice President, Logility. “Customers will experience first-hand the benefits of both companies’ solutions to support their unique supply chains.”

Businesses can benefit from Kӧrber’s warehouse and transportation management solutions and Logility’s planning solutions to further optimize supply chain operations and increase revenue, according to the press announcement. Logility’s Digital Supply Chain Platform leverages a blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics. Its customers include Big Lots, Husqvarna Group, Parker Hannifin, Sonoco Products and Red Wing Shoe Company.

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Fitbit Cost 5 leaks exhibit a glossy health wearable

Fitbit is reportedly working on a new Fitbit Charge 5, and new renders surfacing this week give a good look at what we can expect. The report comes from leaker Snoopy on Twitter, and it features an attached video showing off the promotional material for the successor to the Charge 4.
According to the report, the upcoming 5 Charge 5 will cost $179, a $40 boost justified by a few quality-of-life changes. These could include swapping out the monochrome screen for a full-color one and adding in new sensors. Based on the video, sensors include built-in GPS, an EDA for stress-tracking management, an electrocardiogram (ECG) for heart tracking, an optical heart rate sensor, and an SpO2 sensor for tracking your blood oxygenation.  The biggest takeaway from the renders is a redesign of the previous model. The old design featuring sharp angles gives way to what appears to be a smooth, softer overall design with rounder corners. It could also come in different colors: Black, silver, and gold.

Fitbit Charge 5179 USD
— Snoopy (@_snoopytech_) August 22, 2021
It will also provide a Daily Readiness Score, a feature that will suggest the best workouts for a user as informed by their stats — sleep, heart rate, the previous day’s workout, and so on. If you didn’t sleep well, Fitbit may recommend a light workout, while if you worked out lightly teh previous day, you may get a heavy workout recommendation. Based on the promotional video and comments from the leaker, it’s likely to be a Fitbit Premium-only feature.
Fitbit has yet to announce a release date for the Charge 5 (or the device itself). Some have speculated the Charge could launch on October 23 based on the renders — seeing as October 23 is a weekend day, that’s unlikely. An October date in general, however, does seem likely, especially given the recent promotional leaks.
Fitbit isn’t the only wearable maker making something new. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 has broken cover as one of the most powerful Wear OS watches for people who want a little more than a basic wearable. Fossil is also planning something new for the summer. Whatever you want, there are going to be quite a few options for buyers looking for fitness wearables or smartwatches by year’s end.

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Hulu provides HDR assist for choose authentic motion pictures and exhibits

Hulu has quietly added support for HDR — but only for “select Hulu Originals” so far.
“Hulu with HDR,” as its dubbed in the Hulu support pages, means that you’ll be able to watch some shows or movies in the various standards of High Dynamic Range. Hulu is supporting all the big ones — Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+.
Content that’s available in HDR will be identifed on the details page, alongside other specs like 4K resolution or 5.1 audio.
The Hulu original Nine Perfect Strangers is available in 4K resolution and in High Dynamic Range.
Why is that important? As the name implies, modern televisions and ancillary hardware like Roku and Fire TV streaming sticks can utilize HDR to show a higher range of colors. That means the dark stuff will look that much darker in comparison, and the bright, flashy stuff will stand out that much more.
HDR requires everything to work in sync. You’ll need a television capable of displaying HDR content. If you’re using a device like a Roku or Fire TV streaming stick, it’ll have to support HDR, too, as will the show or movie you’re watching.
One thing to keep in mind is that like higher resolutions, streaming video in HDR also requires additional bandwidth. So if you’re on a metered service or are otherwise hamstrung, you might want to ratchet things back in the settings.
The good news is that most major hardware appears to be supported by Hulu. It specifically lists “HDR-compatible models” from Roku, though not whether they’re talking about Roku players or Roku TVs. Also supported are Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube devices (so long as they’re HDR-compatible and are running at least Fire OS 7), Apple TV 4K (Gen 5 or later), Vizio televisions, and Chromecast Ultra.
Notably missing from that list are TVs from the likes of Sony, Samsung, or LG.

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Google might have by accident proven off the Pixel 6’s in-display fingerprint sensor

Google may have already shared a lot about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but there are still quite a few unanswered questions the company will address at its proper launch later in the year. However, an accidental post from Google’s Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer may just have revealed the position of the phone’s in-display fingerprint sensor — and it marks a change from rear-mounted fingerprint sensors (and the short-lived face unlock of the Pixel 4).
In an image shared on Twitter, the senior vice president posted a screenshot of the lock screen of an Android 12 phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor in a bid to show off the Material You interface. Eagle-eyed users quickly noticed that the elements on display matched what the Pixel 6 would be expected to show. The folks over at 9to5Google note that this could be a coincidence. Phones like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra andOnePlus 9 Pro can be used on Android 12 at the moment, and they have in-display fingerprint sensors, albeit with differing positioning. However, the fact that the image was deleted rather quickly does make it more likely to be a Pixel 6. Google did also accidentally reveal the Pixel 5a’s camera in a similar manner earlier in the year.

Hiroshi Lockheimer apparently posted (and then deleted) a screenshot from what's likely the Pixel 6 Pro (the image resolution was 1440×3200.) The phone is connected to Verizon 5G, likely the carrier's sub-6GHz network. Also shown is the position of the UDFPS.
H/T @jspring86az
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 24, 2021
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are Google’s 2021 flagship devices, and the first true flagships since the Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Google is going all out with the hardware, no longer content to rely on its software to carry its products. With screens going as high as 6.7-inches, QHD displays, 120Hz refresh rates, large batteries, and 33-watt fast charging, these are competitive smartphones. The company has also done a lot of work with its Google Tensor chip, which it plans on using to help create a product that can reflect its hardware ambitions more than Qualcomm’s third-party chips will. It’s a drastic change from older products, and the in-display sensor is just one more way Google is setting these phones apart from older ones.
A launch date has yet to be given, however, Google will likely launch the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro at a dedicated hardware event in October if previous trends hold.

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Future MacBooks may substitute this integral element with a touchscreen

Some patent applications from Apple seem a bit on the crazy side and some are a little more grounded. Recently, Apple was granted a patent for a dual-screen MacBook that would replace the built-in keyboard with a virtual one like on the iPad. It would also gain the ability to wirelessly charge an iPhone.
Apple first submitted the patent for an “integrated interface system” three years ago, and we were skeptical that a dual-screen MacBook would even work. However, the company has finally been granted the patent, so we’ll have to see what it does with it.

The primary goal of the dual-screen is to provide the flexibility to change the interface as needed. For example, there could be multiple keyboard configurations to reflect different languages or region-specific layouts. The position and size of the keyboard could be changed depending on user preferences. It’s all very similar to what the current iPad virtual keyboard is capable of.
Apple doesn’t stop at keyboard configurations, though. One of the figures show the ability to interact with external objects such as a joystick for gaming or 3D modeling applications. Apple also envisions several biometric sensors such as Touch ID being integrated into the screen.
One feature that might perk up the ears of the Apple faithful is the inclusion of a wireless charging area for the iPhone or any other smartphone (assuming it’s using the Qi standard). This would make it much more convenient than purchasing a separate wireless charger, as well as reduce desk clutter.

Obviously, a dual-screened device is not a new concept. Lenovo in 2018 released the Yoga Book C930, which featured a unique e-ink screen. The company followed that up with the Thinkpad X1 Fold, a laptop with no physical keyboard at all, but with an actual folding screen. Of course, we can’t talk about dual-screen laptops without mentioning Microsoft’s delayed Surface Neo and Windows 10X.
There have been calls for Apple to put a touchscreen on Macs for a while, but probably more so once the company starting putting its own ARM silicon into its laptops and desktops. The M1 chip is able to run iOS apps natively on a Mac, so it makes sense to add touchscreen support. However, we’ve written before that Apple will probably never make a touchscreen Mac, and Steve Jobs was notoriously against the idea altogether because of the ergonomics.
This newly granted patent gets around this ergonomic problem by allowing Apple to simply modify the displays however it wants. According to the patent itself: “… transparent dielectric material may form a continuous or seamless input surface that may improve the look and feel of the device without having the drawbacks of some traditional device constructions.”
These “drawbacks” simply mean that Apple doesn’t have to physically alter the keyboard or create new MacBook designs in order to change the look and feel. Everything can simply be done through the software. This would save Apple a lot of time and money in hardware design and could be Apple’s ultimate vision of combining the Mac and iPad into one device.
Regardless of  which patent items ultimately get implemented, they hopefully won’t end up as unpopular as the Touch Bar.

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Bowers & Wilkins’ dear flagship audio system get an costly replace

If you’re a fan of the kind of pristine audio quality that only the best loudspeakers can provide, get ready to liquidate some savings. Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) has just released its first update to its flagship 800 Series Diamond speakers since 2015. Along with a new internal design, new materials, and an intriguing new driver suspension invention comes a much loftier set of prices. The range-topping 801 D4 commands $35,000 per pair, a $5,000 (or about 17%) increase over the British audio company’s current top model, the 800 D3. Similar increases apply to the entire new lineup of seven models, which will be available from B&W retailers starting September 1.
From left: Bower & Wilkins’ 801 D4, 802 D4, 803 D4, 804 D4, 805 D4, HTM81 D4, HTM82 D4 Bowers & Wilkins
The D4 lineup consists of five sets of stereo speakers and two three-way center channel speakers:

801 D4, $35,000 per pair
802 D4, $26,000 per pair
803 D4, $20,000 per pair
804 D4, $12,500 per pair
805 D4, $8,000 per pair
HTM81 D4, $7,500
HTM82 D4, $5,500

To justify the new higher prices, B&W is touting “hundreds of detail improvements,” plus several new technologies developed specifically for this new series, most of which are aimed at further reducing unwanted vibration and resonance by increasing the stiffness of components. Liberal use of aluminum throughout the new speakers is the main way engineers achieved rigidity. It’s now integrated into the top section of the stereo speaker models, an area that used to be made from wood.
The aluminum-reinforced matrix assembly from an 801 D4 speaker. Bowers & Wilkins
You’ll also find new applications of aluminum in the internal structure of the 805 D4 and 804 D4. These models get a stiff aluminum plate on the inside face of their cabinets and a central aluminum spine to which B&W has mounted the crossover units.
To further reduce energy transfer between components, decoupling techniques have been employed throughout the lineup. In all three-way models, midrange drive units (which consist of drive units and motor systems) are isolated on spring-mounted decoupling mounts. The all-aluminum turbine heads on the 801, 802, and 803 are now decoupled from the iconic solid-body tweeters that sit atop, further reducing vibrations.

B&W Biomimetic Suspension
Fabric spider

And inside the midrange and mid-bass drivers, B&W has used a totally new suspension system that replaces traditional fabric spiders with something the company calls “composite Biomimetic Suspension.” It looks a little like the cockpit windows from the Millennium Falcon, with an outer and inner ring connected by a series of six suspension arms. B&W claims this new invention greatly reduces unwanted air pressure (and thus sound) that a conventional fabric spider can generate. Doing so removes unpredictable, nonlinear effects and results in “unprecedented midrange transparency and realism,” according to the company.
Rounding out the changes are new visible materials like Connolly leather, which covers the profile of the aluminum tops, solid plywood in place of MDF in some models, and a new Satin Walnut finish, which joins the existing Gloss Black, White, and Satin Rosenut options.

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Groomed for maiden Africa Digital Neighborhood discussion board tomorrow

The maiden version of the Africa Digital Discussion board (ADF), organised by AIDEC Consultancies Worldwide Restricted is primed for tomorrow, 25 August 2021, on the prestigious Greatest Western Premier Lodge, Airport Residential, in Accra. Africa Continental Free Commerce Space (AfCFTA) Secretary-Normal, Wamlele Mene and Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful; who will ship […]

Astronaut’s medical concern prompts NASA to name off Tuesday’s spacewalk

A spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) planned for Tuesday, August 24, has been postponed due a medical issue affecting one of the two participating astronauts.
The space agency announced the news on Monday, explaining that NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who arrived at the orbiting outpost in April 2021, was experiencing a “minor medical issue,” adding that it was “not a medical emergency.”
With spacewalks requiring astronauts to work in a bulky spacesuit in a challenging environment for around seven hours at a time, those taking part have to be in tip-top condition before stepping outside the confines of the space station.
The spacewalk, which Vande Hei will carry out with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, will now take place after the SpaceX CRS-23 cargo resupply launch that’s planned for August 28, and also following two scheduled spacewalks involving Russian cosmonauts that are expected to take place in early September.
Vande Hei isn’t scheduled to depart the ISS until March 2022, so there’s plenty of time for him to conduct the spacewalk. But it’s a little tighter for Hoshide, who’s set to leave in early November 2021. Still, the postponed walk could take place as early as mid- to late September.
Tuesday’s postponed spacewalk would have seen the two astronauts continue work to upgrade the station’s power system with the installation of a support bracket for new rollout arrays. Two of the new arrays have already been put in place, with another four awaiting installation.
Both Vande Hei and Hoshide spent the last week preparing for the spacewalk — or extravehicular activity to use NASA’s official terminology for such events — inclusing checking their spacesuits, setting up their tools, and reviewing procedures for the excursion.
According to a tweet (below) from the ISS Twitter account, the preparations were going according to plan as of Saturday, August 21. But some time after that, Vande Hei suffered a medical issue that prompted NASA to take action.

The Exp 65 crew goes into the weekend preparing for Tuesday's spacewalk while juggling a multitude of space research.
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) August 20, 2021
As soon as we get news of a new date for the spacewalk, we’ll be sure to update our “how to watch” page detailing everything you need to know about how to tune in to the event in real time.
In the meantime, check out these stunning images of spacewalks from over the years.

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