Combined imports at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach dropped by 14% year-over-year in December, the fourth consecutive month with a decline. Full terminals meant that over 100 ships had to wait to dock last month, while a shortage of truck drivers and dockworkers worsened the bottlenecks.
Distributors of all sizes "can get value right away" from newer, customized artificial intelligence products, says Benj Cohen, CEO of Proton.ai. AI can also help distributors address changing sales models, supply chain challenges and labor shortages caused by the pandemic, Cohen says.
Transportation management system platforms are becoming more nimble and agile but need to continue improving in terms of connectivity. "Sometimes, TMS platforms can make that integration very cumbersome ... it needs to be more Google-like," says Stephanie Silvestre, senior vice president of supply chain at Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits.
Two-thirds of forwarders and shippers surveyed by Container xChange expect supply chain backlogs to be exacerbated by delays and container shortages as factories and ports in China close for Lunar New Year. Pandemic-related lockdowns and increased shipping ahead of the holiday have already resulted in higher spot rates for freight from China this month, according to Container xChange CEO Johannes Schlingmeier.
Once-lengthy procurement tasks in the health care sector can now take just a single day, thanks to artificial intelligence, which also reduces the risk of human error and inaccurate claims while improving the management of inventory and patient records, writes Ashley Mehta, CEO of Nolij Consulting. Ideal AI platforms have natural language processing, custom-built fields and image processing, among other features, Mehta writes.
Desert sand isn't a suitable replacement for the kinds of sand needed to make glass, silicon microchips, asphalt and concrete, which come from a dwindling supply at beaches, lakes, riverbanks and floodplains, writes Gary Wollenhaupt. The sand shortage spells trouble for everything from vaccine vials to bourbon bottles, and it's a reminder to sourcing professionals to increase their knowledge of supply chains, maintain an inventory of key components and be ready for unexpected crises, Wollenhaupt writes.
Amazon is expanding its cashierless convenience store format Amazon Go to suburban areas, starting with Mill Creek, Wash., a Seattle suburb with about 20,000 residents. The expansion from city centers to suburbs follows the pandemic-fueled surge in remote work, and the suburban stores will have a larger footprint than their urban counterparts.
GE Appliances is testing autonomous vehicles from Einride to move materials between points at its Louisville, Ky., family of facilities. GE Appliances and Einride are also testing electric-powered drayage trucks in three states.
Fast-growing e-procurement is set to surpass $1 trillion in sales this year, Digital Commerce 360 projects. Automated procurement punchout software provides direct connections between a company's procurement system and suppliers' e-commerce sites for integrated B2B sales.
Building resilience, options and flexibility into supply chains is vital for addressing the "pinch points" most likely to crop up this year, according to Eric Jones of FM Global. Six resilience threats to prepare for include cyberrisk, floods, chip shortages and port backlogs, Jones says.
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