Logistics Report: Tracking Blockchain Standards; Women Wanted in Trucking; Retaining Suppliers

Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

FedEx Corp. believes blockchain is the future of goods-truckingif widespread industry collaboration supports the technology. FedEx Chief Rob Carter says it is “inevitable and essential” that blockchain become a key tool in tracking goods and reducing fraud in supply chains, the WSJ’s Sara Castellanos writes, providing critical backing for an operator with its own robust tracking system within its closed-loop distribution channels. FedEx and rival United Parcel Service Inc. are among the nearly 500 members of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance working on common standards for the technology. Gartner Inc. expects blockchain will support the global movement and tracking of some $2 trillion in goods and services by 2023, a forecast that depends on shared standards. FedEx wants regulators to come up with new rules that could drive broad adoption of blockchain, including protocols for the delivery of packages across borders.

Kenyette Godhigh-Bell swapped her job as a real-estate agent to be a truck driver, and she’s not looking back. The 46-year-old woman takes her 18-wheeler to Nebraska slaughterhouses to haul beef and chicken to grocery warehouses, the WSJ’s Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath report, putting her among a growing number of women taking jobs in blue-collar fields that are mostly dominated by men. The increase has been especially pronounced in transportation and material-moving, a sector that saw employment of women rise 43% from 2000 to 2018. Nearly 9% of truck drivers are women, a small segment of the overall workforce but the highest share on record back to 1994. New technology and regulations may be helping. Ryan D. Carter of Scotlynn Transport LLC says an industrywide mandate for electronic logging devices has eliminated dispatching actions by “some bullies out there that pushed drivers to the brink.

Economy & Trade

The deadly swine fever sweeping China’s hog barns is reinvigorating U.S. meat companies. The outbreak that has prompted culling of millions of hogs is shrinking global meat supplies, the WSJ’s Jacob Bunge writes, boosting prices and pushing more buyers toward American suppliers who are anxious for a turn in their business after several tough years. China and Hong Kong combined purchases from the U.S. fell 30% last year to 351,774 tons, but China’s purchases surpassed 101,200 tons in the past two weeks alone. Prestage Farms Inc. says new orders from China will help a new $309 million pork processing plant in Iowa turn profitable by next year. And Tyson Foods Inc. last month won approval for two plants in Iowa to begin shipping pork to China. A global drawdown in meat supplies will also boost poultry processors, as consumers turn to other protein sources.

Supply Chain Strategies

The head of Modell’s Sporting Goods says an aggressive effort to communicate with suppliers has kept the retailer from a seemingly inevitable slide into bankruptcy. Chief Executive Mitchell Modell says daily shipments to a central distribution center tumbled from 18,000 to 7,000 in the days after the Journal reported the company had hired a restructuring firm. The WSJ’s Soma Biswas writes suppliers were rushing away from the sports apparel company in a familiar path vendors have taken as Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. and other troubled retailers have tumbled into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Mr. Modell says he stabiized the business with a campaign to win back suppliers and their financing sources, in part through a strategy to “overcommunicate.” That included providing vendors with the company’s financials under nondisclosure agreements. Today, goods are flowing from 297 of an original list of 300 targeted suppliers, including Nike Inc. and Under Armour Inc.

 

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