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A whirlwind news topic that seems to reveal new headlines and developments each day, technology is changing society more than ever before.  As companies and consumers key in on how technology has the potential to positively and negatively impact their futures, research, testing, and product roll-outs are being conducted around the clock to create new innovations and introduce them to a global market hungry for personalization and advancement.  This blog will aim to shed light on how technology will impact three key economic industries: transportation, 3D printing, and online consumption.

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In the midst of an economic transformation that favors technology, the trucking industry is seeing one of its largest growth years in the past decade. In January, American trucking companies ordered the largest number of new 18-wheelers in about 12 years. This action took place following a tax overhaul that gave them more cash to invest. Trucking companies have also been incentivized to purchase new fuel-efficient trucks in a period of rising diesel costs. In a way, a digital economy has the potential to boost the growth of the trucking industry even further. Heightened packaging volumes have allowed suppliers to employ more truckers, which has boosted margins through their economies of scale. On top of this, more individuals are partaking in e-commerce, which has pressured the shipping industry to have the capability to access customers in rural areas as well as suburban and urban areas.

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Every year, millions of people go shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving.  However, people are choosing to shop online on Cyber Monday rather than visit retail stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was one of the biggest shopping days in the United States.  This year, Americans spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday alone, according to data from Adobe Analytics.  This large amount of online orders so close to Christmas puts extra stress on retailers trying to avoid late deliveries and unfilled orders.  Normally during the holiday season, the number of late deliveries to households doubles, but this year, companies are having a particularly hard time delivering all of their orders on time.  

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As the world is becoming more connected, the courier, express & parcel (CEP) industry is growing and evolving. Online shopping has induced this growth significantly, with companies such as Amazon and Alibaba playing a major role. The ease with which a consumer can find items online from a variety sellers with many delivery options and often reviews and ratings, has shifted the purchasing power significantly to the hands of consumers. This forces retailers to offer better service and cheaper delivery. This, in turn, has created a lot of issues for CEP companies and has forced them to rethink their strategies, as costs have been rising faster than revenues. Also, emails and social media have almost completely replaced the use of mail delivery, which required postal companies to shift their main focus to parcel delivery products, services, and supply chains that would create better revenue streams.

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In today’s blog, we will take a look at the logistics industry and how it deals with the incredible challenges of delivering packages to customers around the world. With the holiday season in full swing and as frantic shoppers look to purchase last minute gifts before Christmas, the shipping industry is forced to work 24/7 to meet demand. The holidays can make or break the year for many retailers and ecommerce websites, and these businesses depend on shipping companies to ensure their customers are satisfied.

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With all the growth in the logistics industries, “several companies are racing to develop airships they hope will transform air travel.” Amazon, for example, has struggled keeping up with the high demand, especially with Prime members who get free two day shipping. Using airplanes to transport items will significantly increase the company’s shipping speed and help Amazon continue to grow.

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Disruptions in supply chains are unwanted, but can sometimes be unavoidable. New technology introduced to logistics functions has helped to lessen these disruptions, increase efficiency and responsiveness, and also meet the ever-growing expectations of customers. Since the affordability of these technologies has also increased, they are becoming more and more available to companies wishing to improve their logistics functions. Experts anticipate that over the next few years, the Transportation Management System (TMS) will become more heavily used, autonomous vehicles and drones will increase, and the use of robots will also increase.

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Companies’ supply chains should be strategic, analytical, total value systems that are focused on bottom-line profit. The days when supply chains were an operational activity to get a truck from point A to point B are long gone. The leverage that supply chains need to give companies and, by extension, customers is telling.

Nowadays, depending on where you live, some 70 to 90 percent of what we buy for regular consumption and use are not made in our local area. And supply chains are increasingly becoming more strategic; companies leveraged supply chains for 17 percent of their strategy in 2005 and now that number is 21 percent.

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Warehouses are becoming increasingly more complex according to a report by Zebra Technologies, a company which sells bar code scanners and other technologies. These products allow companies to track and manage their business operations in an efficient manner. In its most simple terms, warehousing is the process of storing materials and filling orders from one end of the supply chain to the other.  In response to the growing needs of e-commerce, major changes in labor and technology will be occurring within these warehouses. According to the report, in 2015, it took 60.4 hours to train new staff to “full productivity”, up 26% from 2013. This figure just further demonstrates that companies are already adjusting their supply chains to meet demand for faster delivery by consumers.

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In Freilassing, Germany, the traffic along one of Europe’s most busy expressways backs up many miles due to a newly installed checkpoint, where German police screen vehicles for hidden migrants. The traffic used to flow unaffected, but now, Austrians who work in Germany are having a harder time than ever simply traveling to their workplaces. Companies in Germany also must wait days longer to receive food and other goods deliveries. In addition, shoppers no longer travel across the borders because it has become too much of a hassle. These border controls are already causing a negative economic effect on all European countries involved, and this could only become worse as more border checks are implemented.

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With diverse ecosystems, the ocean is a key source of marine life and resources. Because the Caribbean region is surrounded by ocean, exporting marine resources could potentially be a key driver in the region's economy. However, because of overexploitation and poor management, many Caribbean countries have not made full use of their marine resources, which has limited their ability to expand economically.

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When out shopping and buying clothes and other apparel merchandise, a lot of people forget how far a product has come.  The supply chains of the apparel and textile industry have been under a lot of scrutiny and are in need of change.  Whether this change is for the rights and conditions of workers or to accommodate the ever changing online market, current conditions will not last much longer.

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The security of shipping containers carrying products overseas is a very sensitive issue internationally.  Since the smallest margin of error can lead to a devastating act of terror, policymakers want to do everything in their power to guarantee the safety of products shipped across the ocean.  The port of Los Angeles alone received 330,000 containers in January.  The risk of one dirty bomb getting past cargo inspections led the United States to pass legislation stating that every container entering the country must be scanned for weapons.  Is this practical, or is it an unreasonable expectation for security officials to execute? 

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One of the fundamental rules of logistics is to avoid shipping air and water whenever possible. Packages and vehicles are optimized to reduce the amount of wasted space that could be used to ship additional products. The weight of water is so expensive to transport that many industries design an entire supply chain around reducing the distance that liquid goods must travel from the point of production to the point of sale. For the flower industry, in which the quality and lifespan of goods are often dependent on the presence of air and water, logistical challenges of doing business on a global scale are of high importance.