After a big jump in used-vehicle sales in 2018, Costco Auto Program expects those sales to keep growing — perhaps even double in 2020 — as more automakers contact the company about offering Costco promotions.
Talks are ongoing with "several" automakers about using the program to drive sales of certified pre-owned and incoming off-lease vehicles, said Rick Borg, Costco Auto Program executive vice president of operations. Borg declined to name the automakers but called them major players. They are automakers that have used the Costco program, as well as some new to the program, a spokeswoman said.
Any resulting partnerships would involve automakers' franchised dealerships, Borg said.
"We're not going to get into a scenario where it's going to exclude the dealer body," he said.
With the volume of off-lease vehicles expected to peak this year, Costco Auto Program, which offers discounts to Costco members on new and used vehicles, is forecasting sales of 110,000 used vehicles in 2019. That would represent a 5.8 percent gain from 2018.
Last year, the program's used-vehicle sales soared 57 percent to 104,000 vehicles. New-vehicle sales last year rose 21 percent to about 543,000 vehicles. In the first quarter of 2019, used-vehicle sales through the program rose 8.7 percent to around 23,000 vehicles, a spokeswoman said. First-quarter new-vehicle sales rose 4.4 percent to around 90,000.
Given planned marketing initiatives and interest from automakers, the program should be able to double its used-vehicle sales in 2020, Borg said.
Costco Auto Program has around 3,300 participating franchised dealerships. Around 1,200 of those sell automaker certified pre-owned vehicles through the program, as well as Costco's own Select Pre-Owned vehicles.
The Select Pre-Owned program is for lightly used vehicles that cannot become automaker certified because, for example, they're sold at a dealership that doesn't represent the brand on the new-vehicle side. Select Pre-Owned cars and trucks must have at least six months and 6,000 miles left on their original factory warranty. Costco's Select Pre-Owned program is in 12 urban markets, having opened in four in 2018.
The Costco program could add dealerships, but growth would be slow. The company works with just one dealership per brand in a given market.
"We're naturally self-limiting on our dealer body," Borg said.
As of Wednesday, May 8, Costco operated 535 U.S. stores and had more than 50 million membership cardholders.
Automakers also are considering arranging discounts for Costco members on parts-and-service work, Borg said. The company is in talks with automakers, so he declined to give specifics. But he said possible initiatives stem from automakers trying to get more competitive in the service drive.
Costco's parts-and-service program offers members a 15 percent discount on parts and larger services — items such as oil changes are not included. Use of that program rose 68 percent in 2018.
Meanwhile, the retailer continues to partner with automakers on member incentives for select new vehicles. For instance, through a tie-up with Honda, eligible Costco members can get a $500 Costco cash card after the purchase or lease of a 2018 and 2019 Ridgeline pickup through July 8.
Members also qualify for $1,000 spiffs on new Volvo S60, S90, V60, V90, V90 Cross Country, XC60 and XC90 vehicles through July 1, or $3,000 for new S60 T6 R-Design and S60 T6 Inscription cars. That's in addition to a $100 Costco cash card for completing a survey.
Hidden not far from downtown Austin, Texas, a research lab is working to change the way we recycle electronics. And it's being run by Apple.
If you don't know exactly where it is, you'll definitely miss it.
There are no signs. The parking lot is almost empty. There's an unremarkable door at the bottom of a set of generic cement stairs. It looks like the back entrance to a rundown mall.
But inside is a 9,000-square-foot warehouse where, just a stone's throw from the front door, you'll find one of the most interesting robots in the world.
Meet Daisy. Daisy is 33 feet long, has five arms and can methodically deconstruct any of 15 iPhone models -- from 2012's iPhone 5 to 2018's iPhone XS -- at a rate of 200 per hour. In a coordinated and sometimes violent dance, Daisy removes the screen, battery, screws, sensors, logic board and wireless charging coil, leaving its husk of an aluminum shell.
Apple invited me here not just to see Daisy in action, but also the Material Recovery Lab that's been built up around it. Last year, Apple announced Daisy for the first time to the world via a press release and video. Now it's inviting in academics, recyclers and other companies to learn how Daisy works.
And, hopefully, use its technology to make e-recycling around the world better.
"This is about the big, hairy goal of making all our products from recycled materials," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, in an interview. "It's going to take a while, but it'll also take tons of innovation.
Apple thinks sharing what it's learned could help others, too.
And as it happens, we could use all the help we can get. A United Nations report found that in 2016, the world created 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, or 2.1 million Statues of Liberty stacked together. And just 20% of that, or 8.9 million metric tons, was recycled.
When other electronics like laptops, printers and monitors are recycled, they don't go through a Daisy. They're put in a shredder or a hammerlike pounder that breaks apart the devices in an effort to expose the elements inside. This process often mixes materials together, making them impure and less valuable. Still, a series of sifters and magnets attempt to collect the recyclable materials before the rest is thrown out.
That's right: Recycling produces trash too.
This is where Apple thinks it can help. If recyclers can learn how to more easily take apart technology, they can more efficiently collect the valuable materials. Give a recycler a bunch of copper charging coils, and it's better than asking it to break apart a phone in search of them.
Apple thinks this can be done in part because it's starting to get there itself.It's going to take a while, but it'll also take tons of innovation.Apple VP Lisa Jackson
Apple is one of the world's top phone makers, shipping an estimated 218 million iPhones last year alone. Sometime this year it may pass 1.5 billion iPhones since the first one debuted, meaning in a little over a decade, Apple's shipped enough phones to circle the planet more than 13 times.
That's great for Apple's bottom line, and helped to turn the Cupertino company from a niche computer maker into one of the world's most highly valued companies -- ever. But it's not so great for an employee's conscience.
Apple's mammoth success -- and the business of countless other computer and gadget makers -- has come at a high cost, counted in untold tons of aluminum, cobalt, copper, glass, gold, lithium, paper, plastic, steel, tantalum, tin, tungsten, zinc and many other raw materials that are smelted, extruded, compressed, etched and polished into the magical device you're using to read this story.
"You have a perfect storm brewing of everyone needs this stuff and the supply is rapidly shrinking," said Callie Babbitt, an associate professor of sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology. Some materials could be used up in the next half century, she said, leaving us without key components for the screens on our TVs and tablets, or pieces that help magnets make the alert vibrations on our watches and phones.
Another problem comes when we upgrade to new devices, something the tech industry encourages through warranty expirations and payment contracts. Our old ones often go in a drawer as a backup "just in case" phone. Or we may ship them off to an e-recycler that shreds or smashes them to collect the materials as efficiently as possible. Worse, we might just toss our once-loved phone into a landfill.
You could see Daisy as Apple's attempt to right some of these wrongs. But if you squint and look another way, Daisy might look like an expensive and cynical PR ploy by one of the world's richest companies to whitewash the damage it's doing to the planet through its massive size.
"I call her Daisy the Deathbot," said Kyle Wiens.
Wiens is a tech repair advocate and head of online instruction site iFixit. He's spent his career doggedly challenging Apple and other tech companies to make their devices easier to repair.
He's also spoken to legislators around the country to encourage "right to repair" laws, forcing companies to allow people access to tools and information to service their devices. And in 2016, he sold $21 million worth of toolkits and parts to help people swap out bad screens, cameras, buttons and batteries on their devices.
I asked Wiens what it would take to convince him that Apple is serious about all this green stuff. What would it take for Apple to live up to its feel-good advertising, like when it publishes "environmental status" reports touting how its devices are free of certain chemicals? And when would it be meaningful that Apple's latest MacBook Air chassis are made of 100% recycled aluminum, including some from iPhones?I call her Daisy the Deathbot.Kyle Wiens, head of iFixit
One challenge is Apple's secretive culture, he said. The company holds so many things close to the vest, from its plans for the next iPhones to the repair manuals to fix them to the technology behind Daisy. That makes it hard for us to determine what's real and what's just marketing.
What if Apple did the next best thing and let companies come in, see how Daisy works and try to retrofit some of that technology to existing recycling programs?
"That would be interesting," Wiens said.
The iPhone afterlife
Apple built Daisy to help with what's known as end-of-life iPhones. It would cost too much to refurbish these devices back to perfect working order, so Daisy guts them instead, stripping out their parts to be recycled into raw copper, aluminum, cobalt and other materials so they can be used anew.
All told, of the roughly 9 million iPhones Apple received back from customers last year, 7.8 million were refurbished and sent to new users, while 1.2 million were sent to Daisy.
Apple understands not everyone has near-infinite money and resources like it does. The iPhone maker notched nearly $20 billion in profit during the holiday season last year, and it has more than $245 billion in cash and investments to draw from. That helps pay for the significant cost behind building expensive machines like Daisy.
To point other companies in the right direction, Apple's purchased large shredders and pounding machines you find at most e-recyclers around the world. It's also set up tables alongside them so that the people who come into its lab can work with Apple to retrofit technology like Daisy's innovations onto the existing technology most recyclers already have.
Apple plans to patent and license Daisy's technology too.
"Technology by definition is all about the new, about things that couldn't happen before but now it can because of some remarkable innovation," Apple VP Jackson said.
Jackson joined Apple in 2013 after a long career in government, working as the commissioner of environmental protection in New Jersey, the chief of staff to the governor of New Jersey and ultimately, for President Barack Obama, as the first African American to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
At Apple, Jackson has risen to become its top policy person, overseeing social initiatives, governmental affairs and environmental work, like Daisy.
During a panel session a couple years ago, she said Apple's focused its efforts on durability, with the understanding that its products will often have two or three owners before they might get recycled. "We're committed to a circular economy approach to manufacturing," she said then, underscoring how the company wants to encourage people not to hold onto devices or toss them in drawers, but to give them back to Apple so they don't end up wasted or in landfills.
"There's 100-plus elements in an iPhone, and we're looking at how to move them back through the chain," she added. "The business opportunity is to come to Apple and say 'Hey, I have a process for getting cobalt out of batteries,' or 'I have a process for getting tungsten.'" Then, Apple will pay for it.
Ultimately, Apple said, it wants to create a "closed loop" of recycling. At Apple, that means taking in devices and either refurbishing them to good-as-new and sending them off, or recycling them so the materials can be used again in new devices.
So far, it's begun sending the iPhone batteries Daisy pulls out to a recycler who uses the cobalt to make new batteries for Apple products. The company also uses 100% recycled tin in the solder on the logic boards of 11 products. And don't forget those 100% recycled aluminum MacBook Air housings.
Apple isn't the only one with a robust environmental program, but it's on a short list. Not far from Apple, Round Rock-based computer maker Dell, the third biggest PC maker, has been using recycled ocean plastics in its packaging. It's also been pushing sustainability, waste-free shipping packages and refurbishment.
Typically a phone with a cracked screen can be refurbished and sent back into the wild.CNET
HP, the second biggest PC maker, said that its paper and packaging no longer come from deforestation, that some of its products are made with recycled plastics and that it offers some of the most easily repairable computers in the industry.
Lenovo, the world's largest computer maker, says it's been increasing its use of recycled plastics in the devices it sells.
And Samsung, the world's largest phone maker, says it's recovered 28.3 million metric tons of its products, including TVs and refrigerators, to be refurbished or e-cycled. It's also pledged to create a "closed loop" recycling program, similar to Apple's efforts.
But experts say all the tech giants have a ways to go before they undo the waste their customers put into the world.
"The companies are experts at creating products, but not experts at reverse logistics, bringing their products back to the smelters of the world," said Mathy Stanislaus, a fellow at the World Resources Institute.
Daisy is actually Apple's second-gen recycling robot. The first was called Liam. Announced in 2016, it was designed to work with the iPhone 6.
Apple chose to focus on the iPhone because it's among the toughest products to recycle and because it sold a bunch of them. Eventually, Jackson said, the lab will work on iPads, Macs and even AirPods too.
Getting there Whether Apple will attract academics, recyclers and other companies to participate in its new program is an open question.
In the meantime, it's also working to collect more unused or destroyed iPhones to either refurbish or send them to Daisy. The company said US customers can now return iPhones to Best Buy stores too.
It's also expanded its iPhone Upgrade Program, a monthly installment plan people can use to pay for their iPhones. When new devices come out, they can merely turn in their old iPhone and get a new one, restarting the clock with a new installment plan. As you probably guessed, those phones either get refurbished or sent to Daisy.
A next step could be for Apple to fully lease phones to us, said Jim Puckett, executive director of the electronics waste watchdog group Basel Action Network. That would help to cut down on waste, as we'd give the phone back to Apple with each new upgrade.
"Apple's the brand to do it, because their demographic cares about the environment," he said.
At the end of my visit to Apple's facility, I took a moment amid the cacophony of Daisy's servos and punches pushing screws out of the iPhones to look around at Apple's otherwise sparse facility.
While people may not agree on Apple's motivations, or its methods, no one disagrees about the problem. It's no surprise that Apple's hired into its ranks former Obama-era government workers who are passionate about climate change, its effects on the planet and the role companies like Apple play.
The question is whether Liam, Daisy and Apple can truly make a difference. I hope they do.
IAN SHERR / APRIL 18, 2019 5:00 AM PDT
March 06, 2019 / Brian Straight
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana. Medium-duty truck applications seem primed to accept a rapid deployment of truck electrification projects, but several factors continue to slow progress, including infrastructure. Weight considerations, range limitations and more are limiting opportunities right now for electrification, but that is changing as manufacturers work to solve these challenges.
“It’s a large market, but a very diverse market with a lot of unique challenges,” explained Jim Castelaz, founder and chief technology officer of Motiv Power Systems, during a presentation on Tuesday on truck electrification at the NTEA’s Green Truck Summit.
Founded 10 years ago, Motiv has developed two unique chassis as part of its EPIC chassis program and has seen its electric powertrain installed in a variety of vehicles, from delivery vans and buses, to shuttles and refuse trucks. Castelaz said that the driver of adoption is the lower prices for battery packs, which he said now cost about $197 per kilowatt hour.
“In medium-duty trucks, if you are under $200 an hour, you are really in the money,” he said. “Two hundred dollars per kilowatt battery packs are game-changing.”
For the foreseeable future, Castelaz sees medium-duty applications as the place to be for electric.
“The two biggest hurdles for electric is range anxiety and charging infrastructure, but you really don’t have those issues in medium-duty [trucks],” he said, noting that most medium-duty applications involve fixed routes with many stops and starts (which can take advantage of regenerative braking technology to recoup wasted braking energy). The trucks are then domiciled at night at a depot.
Bill Combs, director of Connected Fleet for Penske Truck Leasing, echoed some of Castelaz’s thoughts, mentioning that Penske is working with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) to deploy the Freightliner eM2 medium-duty electric Class 6-7 truck and the eCascadia, DTNA’s Class 8 electric model.
“The goal is to place these vehicles with our customers,” he said, and learn over the next two years what works and what doesn’t. This includes working closely with DTNA to adjust battery placement and adjust other specifications to maximize the vehicle’s productivity.
“We want to make sure this is not a science project, but that we are [putting trucks in fleet’s hands so they can succeed],” he said.
Combs began his presentation by pointing out what we “know” about electric trucks – they reduce air pollution, fuel costs, maintenance costs and noise. “But how will we [really] know?” he asked. The vehicles need to be deployed in real-world applications with real fleets hauling real freight, Combs said, and that is what Penske is trying to accomplish.
Jasmin Kluge, project manager of alternative fuels for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, a Daimler Trucks business, pointed out that Fuso has been working on electric trucks for years and has its eCanter Class 6 truck in operation around the world, including with customers in North America. Series production on that vehicle is slated for 2020.
“The electrification of trucks, which are a backbone of our society, is critical to our [future],” she said.
Kluge said Fuso has trucks operating in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, and the company is seeing ranges of 60 to 80 miles. The weight of the electric system reduces payload from about 1,000 pounds to around 9,000 pounds. She called on more cooperation between stakeholders to improve infrastructure and speed deployment.
“The electrification of trucks will be an important driver for cleaner cities,” Kluge said.
All the speakers reiterated the need for groups to work together. “It takes a village is a saying, but we really think it takes an industry,” Combs said.
Motiv’s Castelaz related some of the experiences of its early customers, including AmeriPride. The uniform delivery company has expanded its use of Motiv’s system on Ford F-59 chassis vans to include 30 vehicles, up from an original order of 10. Those vehicles have run more than 100,000 miles to date with an operational savings of 85 percent. The biggest issue, Castelaz said, was building the infrastructure.
“The challenge in low-income communities is that the infrastructure is not as strong, so it takes longer to deploy,” he said.
Castelaz also pointed to a project with Mountain View/Google, which is running electric Ford E-450 chassis with the Motiv EPIC system. Those vehicles run 13-mile loops, making about 30 stops each, and have been getting an effective range of 60 to 80 miles.
“I think we are at an interesting inflection point and it’s because of the battery pack costs and it’s leading us into the future,” Castelaz said.
Combs summed up all the Green Truck speakers on the day across various panels when he said that application fit is most important.
“It’s very important to understand that these trucks are not going to solve every use case,” he said.
After more than a year of amassing original content deals to fill out its upcoming streaming video service, Apple has potentially revealed a hint about how it will distribute to the masses.
Spoiler alert: It may involve teaming up with some bitter rivals. At least that’s the feeling I get from Apple’s new deal that will put iTunes on Samsung smart TVs. Samsung smart TV owners will now be able to access their existing iTunes libraries and buy or rent other movies and TV shows directly from their TVs without having to use an Apple device such as an Apple TV. Samsung said the new iTunes app will be integrated with its smart TV features including Universal Guide, Bixby and Search.
“We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs, so iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home,” said Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, in a statement.
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Although Apple doesn’t specifically mention offering original programming through its iTunes app on Samsung TVs, it stands to reason that it would use the partnership to expand the potential audience for its streaming service. It’s also likely that Apple will strike up similar deals with other video platform providers. After all, Apple did recently make its Apple Music streaming service available on Amazon Echo devices.
While Samsung said that the iTunes Movies and TV Shows app will only be available on its smart TVs, Apple has set smart TV streaming tech deals with other companies this week. Both LG and Vizio will include AirPlay 2 support in their upcoming smart TVs, meaning Apple customers will be able to play content from their Apple devices on LG and Vizio big screens.
More deals like the Samsung smart TV agreement and Vizio and LG AirPlay agreements could put to rest doubts that industry analysts have expressed about the viability of Apple’s video streaming service. In September, Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst for TV[R]EV, said limiting the video service to only Apple devices would hurt its chances.
“If it's not an app on Roku/Fire TV/smart TVs, no one is going to bother to figure out how to watch it,” Wolk said.
Although no Apple deals with rival streaming set-top device makers like Amazon or Roku have surfaced yet, there are signs it could happen. About one year ago, Apple finally allowed Amazon’s Prime Video app onto its Apple TV.
Apple’s influx of smart TV partnerships ahead of CES clearly show the company is becoming increasingly willing to play nice with third parties. But they also represent Apple’s growing reliance on service revenues as device sales level off.
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to investors, warning them that Apple had to lower revenue guidance for its fiscal first quarter. The company blamed the revenue reduction on lower-than-expected hardware sales but pointed to service revenue records. Although service revenues for Apple reached an all-time high of $10 billion during the fourth quarter, most of Apple’s revenue still comes from device sales.
However, the growth story for Apple may lie within its various services, of which subscription video could soon become a big contributor—especially if Apple continues showing a willingness to let its original shows and films live outside of the Apple device ecosystem.
Source: by Ben Munson | Jan 7, 2019 1:11pm fiercevideo.com
Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday season filled with health, happiness, and spectacular success.
Wishing you the best this season and through out the coming year.
An industry leader is selling off its battery business, just as the electrification of transportation begins to hit its stride.
Johnson Controls (JCI) has announced that it will sell its Power Solutions battery business to an investment firm, Brookfield Business Partners L.P., in a cash deal valued at $13.2 billion. JCI has been the biggest producer of lead acid batteries in the world, distributing more than 154 million batteries for cars and trucks and supplying nearly every carmaker worldwide. The company has also been closely involved with the development of lithium ion batteries—the kind that power the latest generations of battery electric vehicles.
Johnson Controls has concentrated previously on two different industries. In addition to the battery business, the company is a leader in the building and fire security segments, specializing in heating and air conditioning control systems. "With this transaction, Johnson Controls becomes a pure-play building technologies and solutions provider that is better positioned to lead the integration and evolution of the connected building and to capture strategic opportunities in the HVAC industry," said JCI chairman and chief executive officer George Oliver in a company press release.
The development of battery technology is capital intensive in at least three different ways. The research for new materials is ongoing and requires a high level of technological sophistication. The material costs associated with building batteries—especially lithium ion batteries—can be both volatile and expensive. In addition, fabricating new battery architectures requires a significant outlay in manufacturing equipment.
Despite these ongoing costs, JCI’s Power Solutions was successful. Johnson Controls has been an important name in the battery and electric vehicle industries. According to the press release, “In fiscal 2018, Power Solutions generated $8.0 billion in revenue and $1.68 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.”
It’s About the Money
As important as battery innovation, development, and manufacturing is today and will be into the future, JCI’s decision to divest itself of its battery division appears to be strictly a financial one. As a result of the sale, “The Company expects to deploy $3.0 to $3.5 billion of proceeds towards debt paydown and retain an investment grade credit rating. The remaining proceeds will be available to return to shareholders, with more specific details to be announced around the close of the transaction,” the company said in its release.
The same profit-driven sentiment was also reflected in a press statement by Brookfield Business Partners, LP. "We are excited to grow our business with the acquisition of Power Solutions, a global market leader which generates consistent cash flows and profitability,” said Cyrus Madon, CEO, Brookfield Business Partners. “We look forward to partnering with the management team to continue growing this world-class business and build on its track record of innovation.”
Source: by: Kevin Clemens, November 21, 2018, designnews.com
Even the Jetsons could not fully imagine a future dominated by autonomous vehicles.
Flying vehicles and robots went hand-in-hand during the animated show. But a world without a driver? Although self-driving cars have been in the popular imagination for decades, the technology has long eluded society.
In the past years, however, we have seen autonomous vehicles emerge in warehouses, factory design plans and highways. The news seems to point to a self-driving world just on the horizon. But is it really, and does that eventuality make sense? To find out, we asked three experts:
What is the business case for autonomous vehicles (AVs) in the supply chain?
Mike Ramsey / Senior Research Director, Automotive and Smart Mobility, Gartner
Autonomous vehicles have a much more serious and quantifiable impact on supply chain logistics and operations than their potential for transporting people.
The prospect of autonomous cars serving in fleets for personal mobility is the most popular vision for the technology, with more than 50 companies designing autonomous vehicle control software aimed at automating consumer driving.
In practice, however, autonomy already exists and is saving companies money in the supply chain. Rio Tinto is operating more than 80 autonomous mining trucks in Australia. In 2016, on average, each of Rio Tinto’s autonomous haul trucks operated an additional 1,000 hours and at 15% lower load and haul unit cost than conventional haul trucks.
As the technology improves and comes down in cost, businesses will find that moving goods inside of factories and between factories and warehouses makes financial sense. This return-on-investment-based thinking of automation isn’t as sexy as a fleet of 80,000 Waymo cabs picking up passengers around the globe, but it is a more likely future.
Companies such as Einride, in Sweden, believe there is a $1 trillion market for autonomous logistics aimed precisely at this market. That company’s electric truck has begun running pallets on a 10 km stretch between warehouses owned by German logistics company, Schenker, in the Swedish city of Jönköping.
It’s a small step, but it makes business sense, solves a problem and can be easily adapted to any business. Like the mining trucks, the efficacy will be rewarded by more usage.
Cort Jacoby / Partner, Consumer and Retail Practice, A.T. Kearney
The allure of Autonomous vehicles is clear and understood: To enable self-driving using the latest technology while limiting the need for drivers in an ever-constrained market for drivers.
We have seen numerous tests occurring across companies such as Uber, Google and Mercedes for use in the consumer market, but it’s my belief that being able to make the case for autonomous vehicles in the supply chain is still a long way off.
While yes, technical advancements are being made and the capabilities to apply to commercial use may in fact exist, there are several challenges that will curtail adoption. These include government regulations, legal risk, questions regarding liability and ongoing maintenance of the technology, including resident skill sets within the companies, whether shippers or logistics companies seeking to implement this capability. That’s to name just a few challenges.
The topic raises the question of when to be on the leading edge of technology versus when to be a follower, fast or otherwise.
In this case, I have a hard time seeing the financial and operational benefits associated with early adoption of autonomous vehicles. Are there leading companies that can (and should) experiment? Sure there are. But these companies are few and either have a very fundamental competitive advantage or potentially see their revenue model erode rapidly without this technology – call this the 1%.
For the vast remainder of the companies depending on logistics to move good across their respective supply chains, the 99%, there are many opportunities to extract efficiencies and further optimize current operations through commercially available and proven technology, for example backhaul optimization, carrier visibility and rapid load/unload, that are not even close to being extracted.
With all the bright minds and new technologies entering the arena of logistics we are in a renaissance for the industry and have numerous new capabilities that are proven and open for business to address many of today’s problems. My advice is to start there. Right now, the business case for autonomous vehicles is not ready for prime time.
Sean Maharaj / Director, Transportation, Logistics and Retail Practices, AArete
It’s hard not to hear about some type of disruptive innovation going on in today’s economy, especially in traditional industries like retail, trucking, healthcare or passenger transportation, which have all endured their fair share of radical change lately. With that in mind, the continued expectation is that more disruptions will prevail into the foreseeable future. But some disruptions have been discussed so frequently and for some time, even though they still remain off into the future due to setbacks, delays and the need to fine-tune them.
One such development is autonomous vehicles. When initial mention of autonomous vehicles first broke onto the scene, the reception ranged from pure fascination to thoughts of Knight Rider (the 80’s TV series). But, we’re talking more than just David Hasselhoff and his self-driving KITT car. Indeed, we’re talking about the development and piloting of the current day technology for real-world use.
This, all in spite of the fact that a substantial road ahead remains, especially after the bad press related to Uber’s autonomous vehicle accidents. What’s more, there’s another layer for public and/or governmental approval to allow driverless vehicles to parade our public roads while we go about our business. Casual surveys amongst friends, family and colleagues elicit feelings of uneasiness when discussed as a potential reality.
So, what does this all of this mean for an innovation in the supply chain? Even as big leading companies like Google, Tesla, Amazon, Daimler, Uber Volvo and Rolls Royce continue to pour money into development and testing, nothing has gone full scale operational in the field. Nothing is certain, at this point. In fact, summer of 2018 saw Uber trying to call it quits for its Otto division (Uber’s autonomous truck segment acquired in August 2016).
So is the race really on, or is it that companies (driven by consumers), in general, are afraid to fall back to times when Kodak, Blockbuster or even the flip phone ruled?
It’s more likely that the supply chain world is seeking labor saving alternatives and this may capitalize on technologies to offer a razor thin margin industry a chance to make a dent due to rising wages and driver shortages. Either way, autonomous vehicles in the supply chain still have many more hurdles to clear before anyone gives them room to pass on local roads or highways.
Source: supplychaindive.com, published 11/27/18
As the smartphone market matures, people are holding onto their phones longer in developed countries. What's more, even the phones they are done with are increasingly "good enough" for users in emerging markets.
What's new: According to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, the global market for refurbished phones grew 10% in the second quarter of 2018, compared to the market for new smartphones, which dropped 1% from a year ago.