Picture Credit: Anthony Bernier/Renault
Welcome to the April issue of “Across Logistics” Innovation News Release, where we are presenting you the latest innovative technologies and important news in logistics that happened over the last month.
Here is the list of topics in this issue:
- Nikola Unveils New Emission-Free Trucks
- Alphabet’s Wing Aviation Goes Ahead with Drone Deliveries
- KeepTruckin, Nautilus Labs, and Flowspace Raise New Funds
- Renault Trials Compact Electric Van for Urban Logistics
- MSC Pioneers Digital Industry Standards in the New Container Line Association
- ZIM Joins Maersk’s Blockchain Shipping Platform TradeLens
Nikola Unveils New Emission-Free Trucks
On April 16th, during the Nikola World event, Nikola Motor Co. presented its updated hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric Class 8 truck models for the North American and European markets – Nikola Two and Nikola Tre.
The Nikola Two is the sequel to the Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell truck that made its debut in December 2016. The vehicle can accelerate and stop faster than any existing truck on the market and offers up to a 960-km range. It is projected to be ready in 2020 and also aided by the planned development of a hydrogen fueling network that will reach an estimated 700 stations across the United States by 2028.
Another announcement of the event was never-before-seen Nikola Tre, which the company calls the “new standard in trucking across Europe.” Tre is expected to be ready for customers in 2023, with the range of up to 1200-km and more horsepower and torque than any traditional cab-over diesel truck.
Both trucks are being designed to ensure they are compliant with Level 4 and 5 automated hardware in order to offer autonomous solutions in the future.
Alphabet’s Wing Aviation Goes Ahead with Drone Deliveries
Alphabet’s Wing Aviation has launched their first air delivery service in Canberra, Australia. The service allows customers to order a range of items such as fresh food, hot coffee or over-the-counter chemist items in a mobile app, and have them delivered directly to their homes by drone in minutes.
Wing Aviation has been testing drone delivery in Australia since 2014. Over the past 18 months, Wing has delivered food, small household items and over the counter chemist products more than 3,000 times to Australian homes.
In addition to that, Wing Aviation became the first drone delivery company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao.
The new entrants to the drone delivery market is always a good sign, as it is constantly growing. This April, for example, UPS has also announced a partnership with a drone delivery company Matternet to transport medical supplies in North Carolina, US.
KeepTruckin, Nautilus Labs, and Flowspace Raise New Funds
This year has already been extremely rewarding for the logistics startups in terms of new rounds of investments. This month was not an exclusion from this pattern.
KeepTruckin, a San Francisco, CA-based fleet management company that connects the world’s trucks, secured $149m in a Series D funding. The round, which brings total funding to $228m, was led by Greenoaks Capital, with participation from existing investors IVP, GV, Index Ventures and Scale Venture Partners.
Being of the best trucking startups out there, the company intends to use the funds to accelerate its growth through hiring talent, investing in hardware, building partnerships and furthering advancements in machine learning.
Another company, Nautilus Labs, one of the best and most forward-looking maritime logistics startups, which develops an automated vessel performance analysis solution has secured $11m to boost AI development in Series A funding led by M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, along with Root Ventures. The current round of investment brings Nautilus’ total funding raised to $14.5m.
In addition to that, an on-demand warehousing and fulfillment technology company Flowspace has raised $12M in Series A funding led by Silicon Valley-based Canvas Ventures. The new capital will enable the startup to advance its cloud software platform, expand the network and accelerate growth.
Furthermore, OOIL, the parent holding company of Hong Kong container line OOCL, Cosco Shipping Logistics and JD Logistics, the delivery arm of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, have signed an agreement, to jointly invest in Shenzhen-based online logistics platform Eshipping. The joint venture will be set up in Shanghai with an initial investment of $38m.
According to OOIL, the set up of the joint venture will allow the company to leverage on JD Logistics’ advanced technology to gain wider exposure in the e-commerce segment, and actual experience in handling both B2B and B2C international e-commerce logistics, and to drive for future growth in these markets.
Renault Trials Compact Electric Van for Urban Logistics
This month, Renault presented EZ-FLEX, an experimental electric and connected light commercial vehicle that is both compact and agile. It was created and designed for sustainable mobility and delivery in urban areas. It is more than a vehicle: it is a real work tool for deliverers.
The vehicle designed to enable a wide variety of adaptable rear space configurations, designed to meet the different needs of the last-mile logistics providers. Being an electric vehicle, EZ-FLEX can access city centers, offering a range of 150 km adapted to the needs of urban delivery.
In order to conduct the experiment, a dozen Renault EZ-FLEX vehicles will be lent to various professionals, companies, cities, and municipalities in Europe. During the experiment, the logistics professionals will enrich the different data types collected through sensors (geolocation, range, use of openings, speed, stops, etc.) with their feedback. This data will then be transferred via the vehicle’s connected system, either in real time or once per day, to understand the reality of daily uses. The experiment is expected to last about 2 years.
This concept proves one more time that innovative city mobility and logistics projects are in high demand, especially after such projects announcements as operations of ONO’s electric cargo bike on the streets of Berlin and e-cargo bike initiative from DPD and Electric Assisted Vehicles Limited which will be launched in July 2019 in the UK.
MSC Pioneers Digital Industry Standards in the New Container Line Association
After gaining regulatory approval from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) last month, four container shipping companies – MSC, A.P. Moller – Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express – officially established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) on 10 April 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The aim of the association is to create common information technology standards of digitalization and interoperability, to make the industry more efficient for both customers and shipping lines.
“For the first time in twenty years, the container shipping industry has come together with a common goal to move the industry into the digital era. With the regulatory approval in place, we look forward for the association to take up work and to begin to collaborate with multiple stakeholders from the entire value chain,” stated André Simha, Chief Information Officer of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DCSA.
ZIM Joins Maersk’s Blockchain Shipping Platform TradeLens
TradeLens uses blockchain technology to enable trust between multiple trading partners – from carriers to freight forwarders, customs officials, port authorities and more — when transacting in a digitized global trade documentation process. The ecosystem’s members get a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality and can collaborate more efficiently and with greater certainty through real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents.
“We are very pleased to join TradeLens, as part of our vision to be at the forefront of digital innovation in shipping. ZIM endorses a proactive approach of promoting and investing in innovative digital solutions, such as the pioneering blockchain-based electronic Bill of Lading initiative, in collaboration with Wave Inc, and the recent investment in Ladingo, a ground-breaking e-commerce solution”, added Eyal Ben Amram, ZIM CIO.