14 DC VELOCITY AUGUST 2019 www.dcvelocity.com
DHL report: Global trade on track
for mild decline
The volume of worldwide trade is on track to post a mild decline
in the third quarter of 2019, due to prevailing negative sentiment
in the private sector and the brewing trade war between the U.S.
and China, according to a forecast released by German transport
and logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL Group.
The June version of the quarterly “Global Trade Barometer”
(GTB), which is produced for DHL by the consulting firm
Accenture, reports a combined global index value of 48 for the
seven nations tracked. Index values below 50 forecast a contraction in world trade within the next three months.
Compared to the previous report, the number is an eight-point drop, marking the index’s first decline since its launch in
January 2018, DHL said. The overall decline was driven by significant losses for both air and containerized ocean trade, which
are the GTB’s two fundamental components.
The latest developments continue a downward trend that the
GTB has been recording for several quarters since mid-2018,
DHL said. The current contraction is also the first one since
2015, when the GTB—which takes into account historical data
from 2013 onward—measured more than a month-long decline
in global trade volumes in the middle of the year.
DHL said one significant factor in the slump was the ongoing
trade war between the U.S. and China, which has been exacerbated by the recent tariff increases. “Amidst rising U.S.-Chinese
tensions, the slightly negative outlook for global trade for the
third quarter of 2019 does not come as a complete surprise. The
latest GTB clearly illustrates why trade disputes create no winners,” Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, Freight,
said in a release.
The next version of the quarterly report will be released in
ShipBob, a privately held technology company that provides
fulfillment services for e-commerce businesses, has opened a
150,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Bethlehem, Pa. …
Geodis, a global supply chain operator, has opened a new
517,000-square-foot logistics campus in Douvrin, Hauts de
France. A team of 300 Geodis employees will be stationed at
the site, which will primarily serve retail and textile customers.
… Pelican BioThermal, a manufacturer of temperature-controlled packaging, has opened a network station and service
center in Dublin, Ireland, as well as a new facility in Mexico
City. … Penske Logistics has celebrated the grand opening of
its 606,000-square-foot build-to-suit standard freezer/cooler
distribution center in Romulus, Mich. The facility serves the
food-distribution needs of its customer The Kroger Co.
Warehouses and distribution centers will focus on
worker mobility and partial automation strategies
as they work to enhance facility efficiency over
the next five years, according to a recent study by
The findings of Zebra’s 2024 Warehousing
Vision Study indicate that companies will use
automation to augment the human labor force,
not replace it. Three-quarters of the logistics IT
(information technology) and operations professionals surveyed by the technology firm said
that human interaction remains a key part of
their “optimal operation balance,” noting that
automation strategies that require some human
involvement or that augment worker performance by equipping them with mobile devices is
the preferred way forward.
Mark Wheeler, Zebra’s director of supply chain
solutions, pointed to the use of robotics and
automation to reduce transportation and non-val-
ue-added walk time in the warehouse as one
example, adding that the use of sensor technolo-
gy and intelligent automation to enhance worker
performance will also grow in the years ahead.
“The hard stuff, for the most part, is still being
done by human labor,” Wheeler said, empha-
sizing the need for flexible, scalable technology
that can help accomplish complex warehousing
and distribution tasks. “It’s more critical than ever
[that workers] have the right technology to do
Although the study revealed a clear consensus
on the need to automate in the warehouse, it
also showed that many professionals don’t know
where to begin. Study findings showed that:
b More than three-quarters (77 percent) of
respondents agree that augmenting workers with
technology is the best way to introduce automa-
tion in the warehouse, but only 35 percent said
they have a clear understanding of where to start
b By 2024, 61 percent of decision-makers plan to
enable partial automation or labor augmentation
with technology in the warehouse; and
b Three-quarters of respondents said they
believe human interaction is part of their optimal
operational balance, with 39 percent citing partial
automation (some human involvement) and 34
percent citing augmentation (equipping workers
with devices) as their preference.
Warehouses are eyeing partial
automation, Zebra study shows