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The Best and Worst States to Drive In

A convoy of three powerful trucks equipped with trailers and flatbeds, confidently navigating the open road to deliver a range of diverse cargoes

For logistics companies, the efficiency and ease of driving within a state can significantly impact operations and bottom line. To shed light on this crucial aspect, WalletHub recently conducted a comprehensive report ranking the best and worst states to drive in. In this blog post, we delve into the key findings from the report, unveiling the states that offer smooth sailing on the roads and those that present more challenges for the industry.

According to the report, the top 10 best states to drive in are:

  1. Iowa
  2. Georgia
  3. Ohio
  4. Oklahoma
  5. North Carolina
  6. Idaho
  7. Texas
  8. Tennessee
  9. Kansas
  10. Indiana

On the other hand, the report identifies the 10 worst states to drive in as:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Washington
  3. Delaware
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Maryland
  6. Missouri
  7. Nevada
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Michigan
  10. California

The report also analyzed rush-hour traffic congestion and average gas prices across the United States, some intriguing findings have emerged. West Virginia, North Dakota, and Maine topped the list for the lowest percentage of rush-hour traffic congestion, while Florida, Delaware, and New Jersey experienced the highest. However, the starkest contrast was between West Virginia and California, with a staggering 15 times difference in rush-hour traffic congestion!

Switching gears to average gas prices, the states with the lowest costs at the pump were Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, while Oregon, Washington, and Nevada experienced the highest prices. The most notable disparity was between Texas and Hawaii, with a 2 times difference in gas prices, placing Texas as the state with the most affordable fuel and Hawaii as the state with the highest costs.

View the report here.

Coronavirus Effects on Logistics

The World Health Organization has officially declared the coronavirus a global emergency due to the climbing death toll in the city of Wuhan, China. With over 100 deaths being recorded in the country the entire city has been put on lock down. Major airlines in Europe, Asia, and North America have announced flight cancellations to and from Wuhan, while the city is under mandatory quarantine.

Macau Photo Agency

What does this health epidemic mean for logistics? Well for starters – Wuhan, China is hub to manufacturing companies including Nissan, Honda, and GM. (Other companies include IBM, HABC, Honeywell, Siemens, and Walmart.)

These companies were already expecting delays due to the 3-4 week closures that take place annually in honor of Chinese New Years. More than likely this window will be extended in response to the transportation restrictions. Delayed openings of factories alone, suggest major production slow downs, increased blank sailings, and slowed down port operations.

Unfortunately it is difficult to distinguish if the slow-downs are due to the New Year or the virus. What we can predict long-term is, a decrease in logistic contracts, loss of revenue, and an overall economic slowdown. Not to mention the various industries and commodities that will take a major hit due to shipping delays.

Retailers, tourists, and transportation companies are said to be the first to experience the initial effects of the outbreak. Sources are labeling this as a black swan event that will continue to unfold and its lasting/long-term effects will remain unknown until a treatment is found. Jonathan Ball virologist at the University of Nottingham, UK. says “A vaccine would take at least a year, if not more,”
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We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we an fulfill your logistics needs!

Air Cargo 2020

Air Cargo

Our SVP of Operations AJ celebrating with our friends from Mexpress! | Air Cargo 2020

Air Cargo 2020

The US Cargo Team would like to take an opportunity to thank The Airforwarders Association (AfA), Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) and the Air Expedited Motor Carriers Association (AEMCA) for another successful annual Air Cargo Conference! This years theme of “Everything counts” was the perfect way to jump start our year, beginning with activations like The Women’s Networking Event and many other informative panels. Our team left the 2-day event in Nashville, TN more equipped for air freight than ever before. Needless to say we will be back next year to connect with our friends and family from #AirCargo2020!

Our SVP of Operations AJ celebrating with our friends from DHL | Air Cargo 2020 Conference

IoT – Hit or miss?

As discussed in our recent blog IoT and the 4th Industrial Revolution, the transportation industry is the second- largest segment investing in the IoT (internet of things). The question now is, are these new mobile devices and technology advances helping prove their ROI?Banker, Cunnane, and Reiser recently published an article discussing how some of these technologies sound like great ideas, but create no real ROI. They describe it as “ideas that have much hype, but no real sense of actual profit”.

UniversalIoT can help in so many different ways, but what we really need to focus on are the ways it can impact how carriers, shippers, 3pl, and freight brokers will approach business moving forward. It’s all about the dollar signs. All the new “shiny” technology may sound exciting, but if the cost is more than it’s worth, what’s the point? What’s the point of looking smart if you go broke in the process?

Many products including AI, Blockchain, delivery by drone, and autonomous vehicles sound very impressive, but we need to dig deeper as Jeff Berman suggests.

Recent studies have shown that drone logistics is less than 5 years away from becoming a reality. The global drone logistic market is listed as a million US dollar value in 2019 and in 2025 as stated by Rohit. However, with winds, weather, algorithm, and outside error probabilities, the drone just looks promising. Promising meaning high in performance, but still too young to verify all the benefits as suggested by ARC’s 2020 Supply Chain Technology Maturity Curve.

Although we anticipate the IoT can make our lives much easier in the logistics world, we must truly evaluate weather we’ll receive a profit from these pricey technologies and in the meantime continue to fully utilize the traditional forms of business + impeccable customer service that has gotten us to where we are today in logistics.

Don’t forget to sign up for our e-newsletter so you can get the best of our blog on a monthly basis straight to your inbox!

We offer competitively low prices, end-to-end solutions, and one-on-one attention for every client– large or small. Contact us today to see how we an fulfill your logistics needs!

[OPINION] Is Amazon Taking the Right Steps?

Amazon is still shaking up traditional logistics as we know it since we last spoke about it.  Shortly after our last blog post about them, Amazon workers went on strike for Prime Day.  Two months ago, Amazon workers walked out again for climate strike.  Finally, last month Amazon announced they will be cutting ties with delivery companies linked to deaths resulting in more than 2,000 workers across eight states to be laid off. Yet, even with all these protests, walkouts, and bad publicity, Amazon has managed to stay in headlines of logistics news over new, exciting initiatives introduced this year.

Today, we’ll dive into the two highly publicized worker strikes Amazon experienced, the motivations behind them, and the new initiatives announced presumably as a response. We’ll also analyze the implication of the most recent mass lay off to hopefully answer the question: Is Amazon taking the right steps?

It is hard to discuss logistics news without acknowledging the omnipotent presence that is, Amazon.  Amazon has grown from an online bookstore to an e-commerce dominator where the smallest changes sends tidal waves changing the landscape of all other e-commerce, retail, and logistics business everywhere.  Let’s first talk about the July 16, 2019 Prime Day Worker’s Strike.

The Prime Day Worker’s Strike, though highly publicized, was not as successful as it was originally anticipated despite many social media posts from customers expressing that they would not divulge in the sale to stand in solidarity with Amazon’s employees.  Prime Day is one of Amazon’s largest sale outside of Black Friday/Cyber Monday with the ability to rake in up to $5.8 billion, globally in one day.  In the end, only 7 sites across Germany and Shakopee, Minnesota participated in the strike. 

The motivation for these strikes were sound.  Unions are much stronger in Europe, and German Amazon workers routinely strike during huge shopping events like Prime Day often because of low wages, inhumane working conditions, and almost impossible standards/quota.   More than 2,000 workers participated.  Minnesota’s motivation was more or less the same except Shakopee has a sizable group of East African Muslims as employees that claim even though they are federally allowed breaks for prayer, taking those breaks makes it extremely difficult to meet their quota.  With Prime Day coinciding with Ramadan, most find it practically impossible to fast and pray in their work environment.  It is already common knowledge that with low wages and individual religious practices aside, Amazon employees are often assigned so much work, it is already a difficult to find time to go to the bathroom without throwing their entire day completely off.  Even with Amazon’s raise of “industry-leading pay” to $15/hour for all full-time employees, a lot of workers are still fighting for job stability and full-time status to receive that rate of pay. Almost all who participated in the strike had the time taken off from their allotted 20 hours unpaid time off, of which if they surpassed, is grounds for termination.  Amazon went on record to say “roughly 15 associates” participated in the Shakopee protest though other news sources reported up to 78 participated.

In the end, the result of 2019 Prime Day Workers’ Strike barely put a dent in Amazon’s bottom line.  Considering there was a workers’ strike last year, this year’s strike was further propelled by Amazon’s announcement of their one-day prime shipping. 

Then, there was the thousands of Amazon employees that walked out for climate strike.  Amazon is arguably one of the least sustainable companies because e-commerce is inherently less green than traditional retail stores because of transportation emissions.  Amazon worsens it by utilizing van deliveries instead of full truckloads.  Currently, none of the vans are electric either.  However, strategically the day before the scheduled climate change strike, Jeff Bezos unveiled a climate plan for Amazon with the end goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and purchasing 100,000 electric delivery vans starting in 2021.  The question still stands: Is this enough?

Amazon has also since added an “Amazon Day” shipping option that allows the customer to select one day of the week to consolidate all their purchases throughout the week to deliver on the selected day with the least amount of packaging as possible for waste reduction. However, this is an opt-in service and not a default setting at check out.  Yet, when customers choose to opt-in, they are eligible to receive digital credits. 

Is Amazon Taking the Right Steps

While these two sustainable initiatives sound great, it Is also worth mentioning that earlier this month they have announced that $1 items can be delivered for free with this one-day shipping as well.  Previously, an order that was under $25 was not subject for free prime shipping.  That is all about to change with huge ramifications for one-stop grab-and-go retailers like drug stores.  There are other implied ramifications…

On October 11, 2019 Amazon announced that they will be cutting ties with a few of their delivery-service partners (DSPs) because of deaths resulting in more than 2,000 layoffs. You can find the list of layoffs here. This does not come as a surprise since Amazon hold their DSPs to a standard of delivering an upward of 300 packages a day. This is not the first time Amazon has decided to terminate contracts with delivery firms on short notice. Amazon has disclosed that has around 800 delivery firms under contract and at least three Amazon DSPs have filed for bankruptcy since 2018. Since 2014, Amazon has contracted DSPs rather than hiring their own drivers and control a lot of the delivery process. That being said, they also deny any and all liability when people get hurt. It is speculated by Business Insider that “the layoffs could be a sign that Amazon is moving to rely more on these newer, smaller companies over its older partners.” However, smaller and newer 3PLs have no experience in delivering the quantities Amazon expects and may even rely on loans from Amazon to get started. Amazon essentially controls the financial wellness of all these 3PLs without ever being responsible to pay their DSPs’ drivers wages and benefits. This year in 2019, Amazon has become it’s own largest delivery provider surpassing even USPS.

So, is Amazon taking the right steps?

It is an opinion that Amazon is trying to do too much at once.  It’s hard to wrap your head around strategies for a such a large and wealthy company like Amazon.  Seemingly all set goals are reachable but also….contradictory.  It is possible for a company like Amazon to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 since so many companies are already there right now. For example, Unilever, Apple, and soon, Ikea.  However, I do tend to side with the opposing idea that it is not soon enough, and they should be pushing for 2030 especially with their recent introduction of $1 and one-day Prime shipping.  Even though 100,000 electric delivery vans sound better than 20,000 gas powered delivery vans, their “Amazon Day” shipping is still not the default setting during checkout and the incentive to opt-in seems lackluster.  It’s almost as if every time they find a solution for one hot button issue, they counteract it with another premium service literally nobody asked for.  Their recent shift from older and larger partners to smaller 3PLs suggests their interest still lies in self-preservation and maybe to take advantage of smaller DSPs with their continuation of denying safety liabilities and exploitation of workers. Considering absolutely everything, Amazon must sort out its internal issues and focus on the wellness of their employees before trying to heighten their customers’ experience and expectations further.   

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