Category Archives: Logistics

Autopilot for Refuse Collection Vehicles

Waste Management World

The Autonomous Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV) is driven normally on
the highway, but having ‘learned’ the collection round (route) it is able to start and stop at the location of each waste container automatically, without the driver being in the cab. As is about to be demonstrated here in Brussels…

It works for aircraft. It works for harvesters in agriculture. So why shouldn’t refuse collection vehicles benefit from ‘autonomous technology’? Malcolm Bates got invited to a demonstration in the heart of Brussels where just such a question was posed.

This is surreal. I’m standing in a square in the heart of Brussels, Belgium. My day started out with what, to most people at my local railway station, would have been a commuter journey into the City of London. Instead, I transferred to a Eurostar train, arriving in Brussels just a couple of hours later.

But I’m not here to make representations to the European Parliament. Or to look at the admittedly rather grand architecture. I’m here to see a garbage truck that can drive itself. Seriously. And here it is, surrounded by a cordon of barriers – and some heavy-looking security guards wear- ing dark ‘shades’.

My first question? Are they here to stop the vehicle escaping? Or, more likely I guess, stop over-inquisitive passers-by getting too close? Not that any of them are looking inquisitively at a garbage truck – even one as advanced as this.

They mostly seem to be wondering why the square is covered in cones and barriers. And journalists. Clearly the organisers – Volvo Truck Corporation, together with compaction body manufacturer Geesink and the end- user, the waste contractor Renova, were keen the demonstration should go ahead without any hitch. Because aside from journalists from all over Europe, some very important people from the offices of various EU commissions and committees that might have a say in how road vehicles in the future might be operated and regulated, were also invited to the demonstration.

While I’m looking at the still stationary truck, I’m also wondering what happens if there was some interference, technical failure, or some other unforeseen set of circumstances. Would the autonomous refuse collection vehicle quite literally be able to drive itself off in the wrong direction? And if so, who could stop it?

Who would be legally responsible, in case of an accident? After all, it’s one thing for the technicians at Volvo to modify a truck to work ‘driverless’ in a mine, or quarry, or some other hostile environment. Any dangerous environment might endanger the life of the driver, so clearly, not having one is an advantage. But a garbage truck working in a typical subur- ban street containing parked cars, children playing and older people crossing the road at any time? That is surely a different scenario?


So is this a case of ‘technology gone mad’? Or are there some real advantages we all might have missed? Technicians at Volvo Truck Corporation, headed by Hayder Wokil, the director responsible for ‘Autonomous and Automated Driving’ development, have indeed already developed the technology to enable trucks (and agricultural and construction machinery) to operate more efficiently than would other- wise be possible by entirely manual control.

In Brazil, for example, ‘auto- pilot’ technology enables the trucks to follow in exactly the same tracks as the harvester in sugar cane fields, thus damaging less of the crop. In such a case, the driver is still in con- trol of speed – and braking – but the technology handles the steering in the fields.

In Sweden, Volvo trucks have indeed been modified to work totally autonomously in mines and quarries, where regular blasting requires a long safety period before sending in a manually driven truck. Because there is no driver in the cab, the fully autonomous vehicle is able to go into the work zone sooner, thus increasing productivity.

Autonomous technology can also offer advantages to operators of ve- hicles on the highway: computing the optimum engine revolutions, throttle input and braking can save a considerable amount of fuel, while reducing wear and tear on the truck’s brakes and driveline. The hard part is deciding how far this technology might – or should – go in the collection of waste and recy- clable materials.

The officials have arrived from a series of seminars now and we’re ready for the ‘live’ demonstration. To make full sense of the thinking employed by Volvo technicians, we need to remember that Sweden is a country of just 10 million people, many of whom live in rural areas. And because housing density out- side of the major cities is low, refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) tend to operate either with a driver and one crew member, or in many cases, just the driver. This is where the techno- logy is designed to help …

The demonstration represents what in real life would be a cul-de-sac of suburban houses, each requiring the driver to make a stop, collect the bin, then move a few more metres to the next.

With a driver and one crew member, this would be an easy task, but for council (commune) collections in rural areas, or for commer- cial waste operations where only the driver is employed, it would involve the driver entering and exiting the cab in between every binlifting op- eration. Or requiring the driver to walk between each house, leaving the vehicle unattended. Or – and here’s a key safety issue – when under pres- sure, perhaps forget to engage the handbrake, after each stop. Or make a rash reversing manoeuvre, without checking it is safe to do so.

With the autonomous techno- logy, the RCV follows the driver from house to house without the need to get in and out of the cab between each lift. In Sweden and other cold climates, there is an added safety advantage in that each cab entry/ exit operation is a potential slip-up which might result in injury. So any- thing to reduce that number could potentially reduce the risk.

But what about injury to pedestri- ans? What stops the vehicle running them over? Or the vehicle ending-up on a suburban lawn? And how does the vehicle ‘drive’ without the driver being in the cab? The answer is a combination of things. Firstly, this otherwise entirely standard-looking Volvo ‘FM330’ RCV chassis is fitted with four sensors located at each cor- ner.

These are capable of detecting anything that might be getting too close for comfort – like a parked car. Or small child. Secondly, the driver – who is likely to be walking from one bin to the next – has a small con- sole which contains a manual over- ride control to stop the vehicle in an emergency. But the really clever as- pect of the Volvo Autonomous RCV is that is already knows where it is going and what manoeuvre it needs to undertake next.

How? By the com- bination of GPS technology and route software – plus the fact that it is able to ‘learn’ the right sequence of events in any given collection round (route) from a manually controlled run with the driver in charge. It then replicates the same stops where each bin is located on subsequent visits.

To watch the vehicle following the driver at a slow walking pace between each bin, or container, helps make the point about reducing the risk to the driver from slipping on the cab steps due to icy conditions in northern climates like Norway or Sweden. But what about in the rest of the world?

According to Hayder Wokil, one of the other key areas of concern in respect of safety – and one with a wider global appeal – relates to damage to the vehicle and/or incidents involving the vehicle and pedestrians when reversing. Of course where a crew is employed, the rule should be that the driver only reverses while under the direction of a ‘banksman’ – a crew member tasked with the job of ensuring that it is safe for the vehicle to reverse.

Tragically, however, in spite of many modern RCVs having reversing radar warning systems and multi-camera CCTV systems (which automatically switch the driver’s screen to view the rear camera when reverse gear is engaged), injuries and even fatalities continue to occur. Hayder Wokil, who made a presentation in Brussels, points out that as the ‘driver’ is able to walk around the autonomous RCV as it reverses, it is possible to see any potential danger far sooner.


Case Study: Shipping From China (As A Novice)

We are entering the shipping business! In an attempt to gain more information, we tried the “WEB”. Not having our “license” yet, I could not request an actual quote yet. FACT: Sailing time will only vary by only 2/3 days depending on the actual port of departure in China.

There are so many variables in planning a move. Type of equipment. Weather. Fuel prices. Think we will work with professionals.

Couple of facts I picked up:

Long Beach 20 days, but we will need a transcontinental rail trip.

New York/New Jersey 34 days??? Panama Canal or Europe?? Hard to believe 14 days to go through the new Panama Canal and go up to one of the rail ports on US seaboard.

It’s also possible to start a trip from the East Coast of United States, passing through the Panama Canal. This will add around 8-10 days to the journey.

Did pick up some good links to use. gives ideas on container size.

Among the world’s top 10 ports in 2016, more than half are located in China, actually 7 of 10. Here’s a rundown.

Port Volume 2016 (‘000 TEUs) Rank in China Rank Worldwide
Shanghai 37 133 1 1
Shenzhen 23 979 2 3
Ningbo-Zhoushan 21 561 3 4
Hong Kong 19 813 4 5
Guangzhou 18 850 5 7
Qingdao 18 050 6 8
Tianjin 14 519 7 10
Dalian 8 15
Xiamen 9 16

Major Carriers – Top 16 Biggest Players
There are 79753 vessels totally, 5064 of them are containerships (data till 05-2017). Now the biggest container vessel has the capacity of more than 20,000 TEUs.

Here’s a table below showing the Top 16 Big Players in Container Shipping (06-2017).
Carrier Short Name Total TEU Share Flag Country
APM-Maersk MSK 3,358,346 16.1% Denmark
Mediterranean Shg Co MSC 3,056,560 14.6% Italy
CMA CGM Group CMA 2,316,751 11.1% France
COSCO Shipping Co Ltd COSCO 1,734,419 8.3% China
Hapag-Lloyd AG HPL 1,529,732 7.3% Germany
Evergreen Marine Corp. EMC 1,024,118 4.9% Taiwan
Orient Overseas Container Line OOCL 686,484 3.3% Hong Kong
NYK Line NYK 585,172 2.8% Japan
Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. YML 581,431 2.8% Taiwan
Hamburg Süd Group HBS 562,764 2.7% Germany
MOL Liner MOL 518,185 2.5% Janpan
Pacific Int. Line PIL 371,833 1.8% Singpore
Hyundai M.M. HMM 366,692 1.8% Korea
“K” Line KLINE 358,498 1.7% Janpan
ZIM ZIM 340,976 1.6% Israel
Wan Hai Lines WHL 225,575 1.1% Taiwan

Click here to find your shipment transit time.

Very interesting exercise.

BOS Group started with 1 truck. Now, it’s one of Miami’s biggest third-party logistics providers

BOS Group CEO/Founder Ozan Baran at his Allapattah warehouse in front of one of his new ‘Quickload’ trucks.

As an 18-year-old student living in Cyprus, Ozan Baran opened his first business in 1994, trucking oranges around the island nation.

“I went bankrupt,” he said. “It was a great learning experience.”

This setback did not discourage the Turkish native from getting involved in business again. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Girne American University in Cyprus, Baran moved to Miami to live with his sister. He arrived in 1999 with $600 in savings.

“I worked at Royal Caribbean and then as general manager of Pasha’s [Mediterranean] restaurants,” Baran said. “I used to drive by the Port of Miami [now PortMiami], and it made me think about the opportunities here for logistics. I saved my money, and in 2005, bought my first truck and started my company.”

Using his savings and credit, the entrepreneur bought a flatbed truck for moving shipping containers and founded BOS Transport to move freight throughout Florida. BOS represents the initials of the first name of Baran, his mother Baysan and sister Simten.

“I worked very hard — 10-12 hours every day of the week,” Baran said. Demand for reliable trucking service was high, and by providing personal attention and excellent service, his business grew with the help of word-of-mouth recommendations. A few years later, he set up a small warehouse in Hialeah, bought more trucks, and hired more employees.

Over the years, BOS Transport evolved into the BOS Group, a major third-party logistics provider based in Miami. Its divisions provide trucking, warehouse, freight, fulfillment and other services and include BOS Transport, BOS Cargo, BOS Warehouse and a popular office rental facility at the headquarters building called BOS Business Center.

Bazan’s company has grown from a single flatbed truck into an enterprise that has more than 180 employees, a large fleet of tractor-trailers, revenues of over $10 million in 2016, and 250 domestic and international clients. The company, which has siding along the Florida East Coast Railway and is next door to Miami International Airport, operates out of a 56,000 square-foot headquarters and warehouse building. To help it keep up with the demand of moving containers in and out of PortMiami and Port Everglades, BOS is building a 125,000-square-foot warehouse a few blocks away, adding new trucks, trailers and other equipment, and hiring more personnel.

“As we grew, I saw new opportunities and studied each one before investing,” he said. For instance, he noticed that many foreign firms working in international trade needed small, economical office spaces, so he converted part of his headquarters into attractive, furnished spaces that are fully booked. He plans to apply this concept in other cities.

In 2015, he launched a new division, Quickload, a fee-based platform that allows shippers and truckers to connect through an app so that vacant space on trailers can be used. Trucking companies, which often see their trucks carrying only partial cargo loads, can line up guaranteed volumes for each route, thus increasing their revenues. And companies that want to ship freight can use Quickload to find available space on trucks and negotiate their own prices.

Walking through the Allapattah warehouse packed with slabs of marble, stacks of glass sheets for condo towers, nonperishable foods and a refrigerated section filled with Danish cheese and chocolates, Baran talked about plans to expand operations in other states and in Europe.

Delivery by rocket could change the game for UPS and FedEx

The Loadstar

Morgan Stanley believes SpaceX could change the game for United Parcel Services and FedEx.

Elon Musk says his company’s BFR vehicle could be a reusable mode of Earth transportation, for up to 150 tons of cargo.

The parcel service “industry could see a fundamental reset with the introduction of rockets as a transportation modality,” Morgan Stanley says.

The rationale for this hypothesis from Morgan Stanley analysts is the plan by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to operate Big Falcon Rockets, being designed to transport people from Earth to Mars, but also around Earth – New York to Shanghai in half an hour. And with a payload of 150 tonnes, it could revolutionise the express business. It would certainly make it a lot quicker…

Airplanes and Panamax cargo ships redefined the parcel service in the 20th century, but those days may be fading quickly.

Morgan Stanley believes the SpaceX plan for the Big Falcon Rocket as a reusable mode of Earth transportation could change the game for United Parcel Services and FedEx.

“The freight transportation business — especially parcel delivery — is on the cusp of transformation from multiple new transportation modalities,” a team of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note Thursday. “Elon Musk recently announced a new option that could potentially have the biggest impact of all — rockets.”

Wal-Mart Stores: Fighting Back


In a world spiraling towards e-commerce which is dominated by Amazon, Wal-Mart is fighting back by reinventing itself as a technology company with physical stores.

Wal-Mart’s secret weapon is its Data Café: a state of the art, analytics hub which is the world’s largest private cloud.

Wal-Mart will enjoy PE expansion if it succeeds at this transformation.
Leverage 55 years of Experience and Assets

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) is the world’s largest retailer with $485 billion revenue in its fiscal year 2017, $14 billion profit after tax, and an operating cash flow of $31 billion. It has over 11, 600 stores in 28 countries. In U.S. alone, it has 4,700 stores which is located within a ten-mile vicinity of 90% of the U.S. population. Effectively, this is a very powerful and cost-effective delivery network as it expands its e-commerce platform.

For the past 55 years, when Sam Walton first founded this discount store in 1962 and disrupted the entire retail industry then, it has grown in financial strength by disciplined growth, capital allocation and delivering an EDLP (Every Day Low Pricing) policy for its customers. Over the past decade, as buying habits are dramatically remolded by online e-commerce, Wal-Mart has lost market share and its revenue growth declined. But it is not dead. On the contrary, it has quietly been amassing assets to fight this inevitable battle for customers’ dollars.
Goal: Transform into a technology company

Big Data and Data Café is at the heart of this transformation. Wal-Mart now can chew and spit 40 petabytes of data, and to give its management and associates “real time” solutions to complex business problems, which in the past, would have taken weeks to compile, compute and analyze. This ability has far reaching benefits: from increased sales, more efficient inventory control, supply chain management, merchandising, efficient delivery options, and climate control and the switching of lights in the stores.

Wal-Mart is using technology both online and offline to maximize the seamless experience for its customers. For example, customers can elect to pick up their online orders at a Wal-Mart location. Instead of having to go inside the store, customers can pick up their order at an automated pickup tower which looms 16 feet tall and holds 300 small to mid-size packages. As the customer walks towards the tower, its doors would automatically open. A screen scans the mobile receipt and the bar code, and disburses the packages. Viola!

What Is HOT In Logistics?

NY-NJ port urged to uniformly extend gate hours

A uniform increase in the gate hours of the major terminals at the Port of New York and New Jersey is needed to handle the expected surge in thousands of containers loaded on and off mega-ships, industry leaders argue.

With drivers scarce, smaller trucking companies add capacity

Truck capacity is tightening across the United States, but motor carriers, especially smaller companies, continue to add capacity in the form of terminals, trucks, and drivers.

NY-NJ port considers options after chassis pool collapse

As mega-ships increasingly call the Port of New York and New Jersey, the top East Coast gateway is picking through the options on how to ensure the smooth delivery and pickup of chassis after a seemingly done-deal to create a chassis pool collapsed in July.

US House members: Do not extend Jones Act waiver

Republicans and Democrats on a US House subcommittee said President Donald Trump erred in temporarily allowing foreign-flag ships to sail from the US mainland to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, and that Congress should leave the Jones Act alone.

CMA CGM extends regional reach with Pacific island carrier takeover

CMA CGM’s announced plans to acquire South Pacific carrier Sofrana Unilines comes hot on the heels of its takeover of Maersk’s South American cabotage operator Mercosul Line as the world’s third-largest container shipping company expands its regional influence around the world.

How To Save The Mall

LOS ANGELES, United States — Do consumers still need shopping malls? One in four US malls won’t exist in five years, according to a June report by Credit Suisse. This year alone, American shopping malls will lose an estimated 8,640 stores to closures. That’s, in part, thanks to digital sales of apparel, which are growing fast and estimated to reach 35 percent of total apparel sales by 2030, up from 17 percent this year.

And yet, for those raised on the west side of Los Angeles, the Century City mall is an institution. On October 3, the latest, gleaming, iteration of the shopping centre — the third place of third places — will be officially unveiled to consumers by Westfield, the multinational mall operator which is doing its best to dispel the idea that the shopping mall is dead.

The new Westfield Century City, re-imagined in partnership with Los Angeles-based (and television famous) interior designer Kelly Wearstler, features outdoor dining spaces, acres of gardens, even a canopy of olive and palm trees. And yes, stores. Over 200 of them, including a three-storey Nordstrom, a Zara and a Bonobos.

Food, too: Lots of it. Along with Eataly, the first location of the high-end Italian food hall to open on the West Coast of the United States, there is an expansive location of the popular local grocery store Gelson’s and plenty of fast-casual and fine-dining restaurants, including Din Tai Fung (the first Taiwanese spot to receive a Michelin Star).

Fitness buffs can join the upscale Equinox gym, or take a class Gloveworx boxing studio. The company has even hired a “creative head of global entertainment” — well-regarded Broadway producer Scott Sanders — to run its live programming across its centres. Out of dozens of retailers, 50 of them have never before done business with Westfield.

But even with all the bells and whistles — Uber waiting lounge included — Westfield Century City is still, of course, a mall.

“The word ‘mall’ is a dated word,” says Steven Lowy, the corporation’s co-CEO. “It’s been lost in the vernacular.” The answer to making the word “mall” relevant again, Westfield and many of its competitors say, is to transform these properties into community centres that aren’t totally focused on apparel retail. The strategy rests on the hypothesis that the internet may be killing the mall, but humans still desire interaction.

In 2007, 42 percent of sales at Westfield developments came from department stores. Today, it’s only 28 percent. The company says that only approximately 12 percent of revenue from its two London malls — two of the most productive in its portfolio — come from department stores.

By shrinking its portfolio to 35 centres globally — which includes properties in the US, the UK and soon mainland Europe — the Sydney-based Westfield (which divested its Australian centres in 2014 to form a separate entity, the Scentre Group) says its properties, mostly located in urban areas instead of white-flight suburbs, are valued at $31 billion, with flagship assets currently making up 82 percent of the lineup. The rest are “regional” properties, many of which the company will likely sell off in the coming years.

“Ten years ago, Westfield had 69 shopping centres in the United States, today we have 33 and two in the UK. We probably will have quite a bit less over the coming years as we focus on being what we would regard as the highest quality retail real estate company in the world,” Lowy says. “We’re not far away from that right now, and the way we do that is by selling non-core assets and reinvesting that capital in assets like London, Milan, New York…Silicon Valley…etc.”

In 2018, after years of red-tape delays, Westfield will begin developing what is being touted as the city of Milan’s largest shopping mall, a €1.4 billion ($1.6 billion at current exchange) investment, built in partnership with Gruppo Stilo, which owns a quarter stake. Now scheduled to open in 2020, its crown jewel will be an outpost of the famous French department store Galeries Lafayette.

Westfield’s strategy is not unlike those of many of its competitors, who are betting that experience — including food, entertainment and health and fitness — will allow a certain sort of development to thrive even as consumers spend more time online.

“Changing consumer behaviours, attitudes and technologies have drastically altered expectations for a shopping experience, and we are facing this trend head-on by transforming our mall assets into community hubs, with varied offers that service each of our communities’ specific whole-of-life needs and aspirations,” says Skye Fisher, head of strategy at QIC Global Real Estate, a development firm with properties across the US and in Australia. “Offering more than a simple consumer transaction, we are creating places that encourage people to dwell, drawing in the community and ensuring people will visit again and again. By curating a more integrated, experience-led offer that responds to a broad range of customer needs, we’re supporting an uplift in sales across all categories including fashion and apparel.”

In the 12-month period ending June 30, 2017, Westfield said fashion sales in specialty retailers at flagship properties were up 1.5 percent, while leisure sales were up 6.4 percent. However, sales at general retail — which includes department stores — were down 5.8 percent. Today, food and dining make up 18 percent of the portfolio’s overall sales (from 15 percent a decade ago), while technology and auto make up 16 percent (from 9 percent a decade ago). “In some of our malls, Apple is the highest-grossing retailer, not the department stores,” Lowy says. “Apple is doing that out of 10,000 or 20,000 square feet. The department stores have 250,000 square feet.”

But can doubling down on these growing categories truly supplant the overall retreat from brick and mortar, and encourage consumers who visit these developments to actually shop? “I’ve seen the retail universe adapt to whatever changes consumers have thrown at them, but this generational change has created a conundrum for retailers of all types that it hasn’t been able to deal with,” says Richard Kestenbaum, a partner at Triangle Capital, a sell-side M&A and capital-raising advisory firm with a concentration in fashion and retail. “Every square foot of retail is worth less than it was 24 or 36 months ago. Once that is recognised, it changes the economics of retail. People will lose a lot of money in the transition, but there is money to be made.”

In order to eke productivity out of properties, developers not only have to change the mix of retailers represented, but retailers need to reevaluate the purpose of their brick-and-mortar stores. Today, many consumers view physical retail as a place to easily drop off online returns, rather than an opportunity to browse and shop. In October, the American value-driven department store Kohl’s will begin accepting Amazon returns at 82 locations in an unprecedented deal, underscoring the physical store’s role as a return centre.

Lowy, for one, is okay with that dynamic. “We all just need to evolve and not really care if the store is a store or a showroom. The consumer is going to shop how they want to shop,” he says, citing the prevalence of “click and collect” schemes in the UK and Europe. “I don’t really care whether the consumer comes to the mall and buys something or sees something and buys it elsewhere or returns something. We’ve just got to do what the consumer wants.”