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Is the future of logistics autonomous and sub-terranean?

Executives and professionals in the maritime and transportation industry won’t believe when we say this, but there’s proof that the future of logistics is actually autonomous and sub-terranean.

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These superfact underground trains are coming soon. Image: Virgin Hyperloop One
These superfact underground trains are coming soon. Image: Virgin Hyperloop One

Executives and professionals in the maritime and transportation industry won’t believe when we say this, but there’s proof that the future of logistics is actually autonomous and sub-terranean.

In fact, Switzerland will soon be shifting freight operations from road and rail traffic into underground tunnels. It’s called the Cargo Sous Terrain Project, and its’ Technical Director Gabriele Guidicelli is quite excited and positive about the opportunity.

“A feasibility study was launched in 2014, and after that the idea gradually became more concrete. A revision of the study in 2016 showed that the concept is economical and can be financed. As a result, the support association was then converted into a stock company. This company is now engaged in making its plans a reality,” said Guidicelli explaining the company’s beginnings.

“At the moment, Cargo Sous Terrain is being planned for the economic region in the Swiss Central Plateau, from St. Gallen to Geneva and from Basel to Lucerne, with a branch going from Bern to Thun. In the first phase, the section between Härkingen/Niederbipp and Zurich will be completed by 2030,” he explained.

Well, 2030 — that’s not so soon after all. However, bear in mind that Switzerland and the Cargo Sous Terrain Project aren’t the only ones experimenting with this technology.

Far away in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai too is trying out something similar. The country has partnered with DP World and Virgin Hyperloop One to launch DP World Cargospeed. Given the way the country and the two partners involved work, a commercial debut might come sooner than 2030 in the Middle East — and soon make its way to Europe, including Switzerland.

According to Richard Branson‘s Virgin Hyperloop One, traveling at top speeds of 1000 km/h, DP World Cargospeed systems will transport high-priority, time-sensitive goods including fresh food, medical supplies, electronics, and more. It will expand freight transportation capacity by connecting with existing modes of road, rail, port and air transport.

Obviously, there are many more players in this space — some of the top logistics companies are involved as are some of the wealthiest countries. Together, the pace at which these systems become a reality might be something most executives from the logistics industry might fail to estimate accurately.

It’s important to note that although the fact in these cases, the fact that these “transporters” are underground makes more heads turn than the fact that they’re autonomous (for all intents and purposes).

However, what most logistics professionals need to ponder over is how this entirely new mode of transport will fit into the industry. Will it be something that is used for point to point, last-mile delivery or will be it scaled up to meet the needs of manufacturers on a national scale?

Finally, the question that most maritime professionals wonder is whether there’s potential for a developer to build a network of underground lines that compete with shipping, rail, and air freight operators.

For the naysayers who brush this technology off saying they’ve seen what underground freight trains can do and think these are only a better version of that — a few years down the line, they will see it themselves.

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Freight Forwarding

BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio

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BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio. Image: Pixabay
BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio. Image: Pixabay
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BDP International, a leading privately owned global logistics and transportation solutions company has announced the acquisition of DJS International, a Dallas-based customs brokerage and freight forwarding company.

DJS provides customized logistics solutions to a diverse group of more than 800 long-tenured customers across all modes of transportation. As a proven leader in international trade, transportation and customs brokerage services, DJS will readily complement BDP’s diverse portfolio of logistics and global trade management solutions, with trade compliance and inbound logistics as key focus areas.

“The similarities between our two companies are astounding; both built from humble beginnings, family-owned and operated, strong customer relationships, and both expanding in prominence as major global players in the industry,” noted BDP Chairman & CEO, Rich Bolte. “Trade compliance continues to be filled with new complexities and challenges; it’s a major focus area for our customers and therefore it was a natural fit to extend our reach in this area of expertise. We’ve always had a significant presence in the US Gulf region but with DJS we can provide a wider array of specialized and customized solutions for our customers in this new normal world.”

DJS will operate as a subsidiary of BDP, guaranteeing access to BDP’s entire global network and portfolio of services. BDP and its partners will reap the benefits of DJS’s proven position as a leader in trade management. With this new partnership, BDP International and DJS customers can expect a unique service experience backed by a combined century of industry know-how, expertise, and experience.

“Our team at DJS is a family, and we pride ourselves on the notion of delivering service excellence to our customers – we adapt and fit to their ever-changing needs in this complex world,” noted David Meyer, DJS president and chief operating officer. “We wanted to partner with a company who had similar corporate values rooted in delivering service excellence and look forward to working with our 5000 new BDP family members while leveraging BDP’s technology, visibility, and global presence to continue helping our customers streamline and simplify their supply chains.”

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Parcel

NZ Post plans to invest close to $170 million on infrastructure – starting with a new Wellington ‘super’ depot for parcels

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NZ Post plans to invest close to $170 million on infrastructure - starting with a new Wellington ‘super’ depot for parcels. Image: Flickr/ 70_musclecar_RT+6
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The investment programme begins with construction of a new ‘super depot’ for parcels, in Grenada, Wellington. The programme also includes a new processing centre in Wiri, Auckland, due to open in 2023, and an upgrade to the Southern Operations Centre in Christchurch in 2022.

The Wellington super depot is due to open in 2022. NZ Post plans to invest around $18 million in the latest global technology that will sort and scan parcels at a much faster rate than what we have now.

“We know that customers really want complete visibility of where their parcel is at all times of its journey – and this technology will improve our ability to do this,” says NZ Post Chief Executive, David Walsh. “We’re making this multi million dollar investment to support New Zealand businesses – both growing new businesses as well as major ecommerce giants.

“NZ Post is forecasting significant growth in the amount New Zealanders will buy online in the next decade – this was before the explosion in online shopping during the COVID-19 period. Last year online shopping in New Zealand grew 13% with almost 50% of adult New Zealanders now shopping online, and we are expecting this growth to continue. We’re pleased to be able to invest confidently in our future, to meet the growth in online shopping.

“The depot will have a 10440 square metre processing floor – about the size of a rugby field – with plenty of room for processing New Zealanders’ parcels.

“We are proud to be contributing to the Wellington regional economy over the next two years, with the projects main contractors, Aspec Construction Wellington LTD, expecting to employ around 350 people through 60 sub-contractors on this project,” says Ash Pama, the property owners’ representative.

During the COVID lockdown period, NZ Post received over 3.5 million parcels in the first two weeks of Alert Level 3. It had been planning for this quantity of parcels in 2023.

Supporting our commitment to be carbon neutral from 2030, the Wellington super depot will incorporate a range of environmentally sustainable design features and has also been designed to accommodate a large solar power installation once battery technology makes this a viable option for our operation.

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Port of Long Beach sees cargo increase

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Port of Long Beach sees cargo increase. Port of Long Beach
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Cargo shipments rose at the Port of Long Beach in May as the economic effects of COVID-19 started to subside.

Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 628,205 twenty-foot equivalent units of container cargo last month, a 9.5% increase from May 2019. Imports grew 7.6% to 312,590 TEUs, while exports climbed 11.6% to 134,556 TEUs. Empty containers headed back overseas jumped 11.4% to 181,060 TEUs.

The Port has moved 2,830,855 TEUs during the first five months of 2020, 5.9% down from the same period in 2019.

“Our strong numbers reflect the efforts of our Business Recovery Task Force, which is setting the path for efficient cargo movement and growth,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “Our focus on operational excellence and world-class customer service will continue as we prioritize our industry-leading infrastructure development projects.”

“We aren’t out of the woods, but this is the gradual growth we have anticipated as the United States starts to rebound from the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19 and the trade war with China,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal.

As part of its recovery efforts, the Port of Long Beach has activated an internal Business Recovery Task Force that works with customers, industry partners, labor and government agencies to ensure terminal and supply chain operations continue without disruption, along with expediting shipments of crucial personal protective equipment.

May marked the first month in 2020 that cargo shipments rose at the nation’s second-busiest port, and followed seven consecutive months of declines attributed to the U.S.-China trade dispute and the COVID-19 epidemic.

Manufacturing in China continues to rebound from the effects of COVID-19, while demand for furniture, digital products and home improvement goods is increasing in the United States.

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