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Future of Freight And More From Around The Freight Web

Future of Freight And More From Around The Freight Web

By Adriana Pulley

Locus Raises $117 Million To Advance Warehousing

Another win for robots! Locus Robotics, based in Massachusetts, has made a name for itself in the thriving warehousing robotics industry. This week Locus announced a $117 million Series F led by Goldman Sachs, G2 Venture Partners and Stack per TechCrunch. The company’s total funding is now around $400 million bringing Locus’s valuation close to $2 billion.

Locus is a standout among others in the industry like…

  • Verity AG
  • 6 River Systems (acquired by Shopify)
  • Geek+
  • RightHand Robotics
  • Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems)

We can only expect ventures like Locus to boom…

…considering the accelerated growth of the eCommerce sector and rumors of names like TikTok pushing into the US market. In recent days, we’ve seen digital orders set records this Black Friday. In order to stay competitive, you’ve gotta bring in the bots.

Of course, industry giant Amazon still dominates. They were one of the early adopters of automation, acquiring Kiva Systems for their fulfilment centers back in 2012. Amazon sets the standards and goals that smaller retailers have to catch up to. Because of that, robotics startups have cropped up everywhere to bridge the gap.

Like others, Locus assures the public that no, our robots won’t run you out of a job.

They say they “understand the importance of having robots that work collaboratively with workers, not replace them.” They illustrate the point with digital line art showing an at-ease worker leaning against one of their robots. See? Total harmony.

For the future…

Locus looks towards further solidifying its place as a leader in the warehouse robotics space.

Powered Trailers Coming Soon Thanks to Range

Based in Mountain View, California, Range has created a powered trailer to “accelerate the electrification of commercial transportation” according to their website. Range was founded in 2021 by Ali Javidan, a former head of prototypes at Tesla.

How do They work? Range explains on its site:

  • An “integrated sensor and powertrain system” power the trailer.
  • A smart kingpin unit measures the load the trailer places on the truck.
  • The smart kingpin, sensor, and system communicate with one another, reducing the load on the engine under acceleration and recapturing kinetic energy using regenerative braking.

The trailers use standard interfaces and are compatible with both diesel and electric trucks. Even if the trailers weren’t plugged in, they can still safely haul cargo.

Who’s interested and why?

It makes sense that smaller trucking companies might be interested in this more cost-efficient alternative. The Tesla Semi, which reportedly completed a 500-mile haul, costs $180,000 or $150,000 for the 300-mile-range option.

The FMCSA has made its environmental priorities clear, wanting to curb engine emissions and pushing towards the adoption of zero-emission trucks. California leads the way in electric vehicle initiatives with goals to phase out diesel trucks in the next 20 years.

Range’s powered trailers could really help the little guys…

…stay relevant in this fast-changing industry. Their audience is clear to them. Range markets the powered trailers as a “practical, compliant, near-term solution to emissions mandates.”

According to Range, their trailers “reduce diesel consumption and tailpipe emissions by 41% in combined city/highway driving, with no increase to cost-per-mile.” And for those companies that may already have electric vehicles, the powered trailers extend the miles driven before the EV trucks need their next charge-up.

The company recently raised $8 million in Seed funding led by Up Partners, R7, and Yamaha Motor Ventures.

Latest and Greatest From Around the Freight Web

Somebody Help!: On Monday night, Biden called on Congress to take action to avoid a freight rail strike. On Tuesday, Congressional leaders spoke up, expressing support for legislation on the issue. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Tomorrow morning we will have a bill on the floor.”

Drug Bust: A truck driver was stopped at the US-Mexico border where his load of “surgical kits” turned out to be hiding 22.97 pounds of cocaine (an estimated street value of $291,760). In a statement, the driver said he was “obligated” to move the drugs.

Korean Wave: South Korea’s trucker strike, the second one this year, rippled through the supply chain. The disruption blocked access to two of the country’s busiest container ports. Following a 6-day strike, the truckers have now been ordered back to work.

Final Battle: In the battle of the brokers, many see 2023 as the time to prove yourself or sink. Legacy brokers like C.H. Robinson and RXO have expanded their own automated systems to compete with native digital brokerages like Uberfreight and Convoy. For smaller firms without AI tech…things will get pretty rocky.

Fast Friends: Turvo and DAT have formally announced their partnership bringing efficiency in the form of a “one-stop shop” for freight matching. DAT VP of Sales says their load board network will host more than 535 million load and truck posts.

Freight Demand Continues To Plummet

Freight Demand Continues To Plummet

Written by Adriana Pulley

FreightWaves’ US Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) shows container imports, rail intermodal shipments, and truckload demand have all fallen from their stratospheric heights during the pandemic. According to FreightWaves expert analyst Zach Strickland, these numbers may better indicate how inflation will be tamed in the coming months than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

A Clearer Picture: Pre-Pandemic (November 2019) to Present

  • Container import bookings are ~6% higher than in November 2019 after averaging 80% higher throughout 2021.
  • Loaded intermodal container volumes on the rails (ORAILL) are 7% lower than in November 2019.
  • Outbound Tender Volume Index is just 9% higher than this time in 2019 after averaging 50% above pre-pandemic levels from July 2020 to March 2022.
    (As measured by FreightWaves’ Inbound Ocean TEUs Index)

Macroeconomic data doesn’t tell an accurate story…

…because the dollar figures they use are contaminated by emotion as well as supply and demand imbalances. For example, the scarcity effect is an economic psychological phenomenon that occurs when people believe something has a higher value simply because there is less of it. At the same time, they place a lower value on abundant objects. The scarcity effect has been one of the main catalysts of inflation these past two years.

Things look to worsen for transportation providers…

…as we enter December and January, which are typically the slowest months of the year for domestic freight movements. While truckload and import demand have not yet found their way back to pre-pandemic levels, it won’t be long before they do.

Overall, the trends remain unpredictable. The data we see on the macroeconomic level will take time to reflect what is actually taking place.

Latest and Greatest News From Around the Freight Web

Latest and Greatest News From Around the Freight Web

Written by Adriana Pulley

Check out our latest roundup of the top headlines from around the freight and logistics world. We gather news related to brokers, carriers, shippers, logistics startups, freight tech, and more.

Dancing Man: In what looks to be a social media stunt gone wrong, a man dies after slamming into an overpass while dancing atop a moving 18-wheeler on the highway. 

Paper Due 11:59: A truck driver and his company are looking at 18 charges after the driver was caught completing last-minute paperwork while simultaneously driving a busted truck.

Better Bucks: A technology-driven logistics company focused on rapid parcel delivery, Better Trucks, secures funding of $15 million led by Lobby Capital. 

Getting Greener: Dynamic pricing infrastructure secures a $5 million Series A investment from Tiger Global.

Against Goliath: Modest FL furniture importer OJ Commerce files a complaint against giants Maersk and Hamburg Süd alleging price gouging, collusion, and breach of contract. 

Merry Maine: The state’s only seaport has seen busier waters with more ships from Iceland, and rail, warehousing, and infrastructure expansions on the horizon. 

Gray Skies: Air cargo airline and logistics execs are clinging to a hope for better performance in 2023, following a 10.7% decrease in cargo demand in September that continues to lag.