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Today’s Pickup: API, EDI Platforms can Play Nice; I’ve got 50 More Feet to Go Now!

Today’s Pickup: API, EDI Platforms can Play Nice; I’ve got 50 More Feet to Go Now!
Today’s Pickup: API, EDI Platforms can Play Nice; I’ve got 50 More Feet to Go Now!
November 11, 2019   //   
By Mark Solomon
Who’s to say that the venerable Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and the more modern Application Programmable Interface (API) platforms can’t play well together? Writing in Supply & Demand Chain Executive, Chris Lankford, vice president of engineering for NEXT Trucking, said APIs, which allow disparate software to connect and share information, can expand the shelf life and value of EDI solutions. Lankford, vice president of engineering at NEXT Trucking, cites the example of Bristlecone, a logistics technology supplier that has built APIs that integrate with 2,600 EDIs (Yes, there are that many.) This allows EDI technologies to become more flexible and enables them to communicate across platforms, he said. One EDI solution can talk to another, or it can provide data to a Transportation Management System, Lankford said. This could be a godsend to the many shippers, fleets and logistics providers that are loath to gut their heavy investment in EDI, he said.
Did you know?:
Chinese delivery firm Cainiao Network said the average package delivery during the first half of 2019 was almost five hours faster than during the same period of 2018. This is due to an increase in the use of automation. The higher velocity has no doubt been helpful during Alibaba’s annual “Singles Day” online shopping spree, which this year was held Nov. 11. The e-commerce portal recorded $23 billion in sales in the first nine hours and had crossed $30 billion in sales by early evening. 
“We think that where this whole thing is going is going to be an omni-enabled store. Whether it is going into the store for shopping or doing pickup, delivery or on-demand delivery, or some combination of those, that is where this thing is evolving.”
— JP Suarez, chief administration officer at Walmart International, in an interview with Logistics Management on the future of last-mile fulfillment and delivery
In other news:
  • African trucking firm raises $30 million: African trucking company Lori Systems has raised a Series A round led by Chinese investors Hillhouse Capital and Crystal Stream Capital. Other investors include Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen and Nigerian founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (TechCrunch).
  • Freeze of Alaska’s Kuskowkim River causes headaches for barge operators: The ongoing freeze on Alaska’s 702-mile Kuskokwim River is no fun for barge companies. Last month, one boat belonging to Alaska Logistics spilled oil and another got stuck, both due to ice. (KYUK Public Broadcasting)
  • Spokane airport gets funding for transload project: Spokane International Airport received an $11.3 million federal grant to erect a transload facility, where shipments are transferred from trucks to rail and vice versa. (Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review)
  • SpotSee technology merges RFID with impact-damage monitoring: The Dallas-based IT firm has launched a device, ShockWatch RFID, that combines impact-damage monitoring with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. This allows users to leverage existing RFID infrastructure to identify and reduce the sources of damage in their supply chain, it said. (Parcel and Postal Technology International)
  • Mobile to host Alabama logistics event: The Alabama Department of Commerce is sponsoring the event, which the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting. (Yellowhammernews)
Final thoughts:
The final mile is so 2018. An increasing focus today is on the last 50 feet of an urban delivery, which poses unique challenges that come with … well … being the last 50 feet. The Urban Freight Lab, part of the University of Washington’s Supply Chain & Logistics Center, has conducted six projects and authored seven papers on the topic since the Lab began studying it in 2016. After analyzing last-mile trends in its congested hometown of Seattle, the Lab found that some commercial loading zones were 90% or more occupied during most business hours, that only 13% of buildings in Seattle’s urban core have private loading bays or docks — meaning delivery workers must rely on curb and alley spaces — and that most alleyways in Seattle’s city center are only one lane wide, limiting alley parking to one or two commercial vehicles at a time. The distance may be short, but the issue has a long tail. A 2018 United Nations study forecast that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities or urban areas by 2050. In addition, the Lab predicted that e-commerce will double the number of vehicle trips in the U.S. by 2023 alone. The last 50 feet is the last mile’s version of a golfer’s green game. A bad putter can scrap all the good that’s come before. If delivery trends don’t change fast, cities around the world will face total gridlock, the Lab said.
Hammer down, everyone!