Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ
By Paul Page
Sign up: With one click, get this newsletter delivered to your inbox.
The production pace is picking up at heavy-duty truck assembly plants. North American fleet owners ordered 40,200 Class-8 trucks last month, WSJ Logistics Report's Jennifer Smith writes, extending a rebound for manufacturers that has fleet operators racing to get slots on production lines. Analysts FTR boosted their forecast for truck production this year to 330,000 vehicles. The orders mark a big turnaround for a truck-making industry that was laying off workers less than two years ago but is now scaling up for what could be its biggest production year in more than a decade. Engine maker Cummins Inc. says it expects revenue from its North American heavy-duty truck business to grow 20% this year. Still, it's unclear so far whether the ordering boom that started last year is adding much capacity on the road. Truckers still say they are pressed to find enough drivers to fill seats even as freight demand stays strong.
Zara is turning to robotics to speed up the very last piece of its online sales, the "click and collect" operation in stores. The icon of fashion supply chains plans to automate the service of handing off online orders in its stores, the WSJ's Jeannette Neumann reports, as the retailer steps up the pace of a strategy that's grown so successful that it's causing backups and long lines at its stores. It's a new wrinkle to a distribution strategy that has made the fast-fashion unit of Inditex SA the envy of its more lumbering competitors. The stakes in store-pickup are big: one-third of Zara's global online sales are picked up in stores -- an increasingly popular fulfillment strategy for retailers. Under Zara's automation plan, online customers will scan or enter a barcode at a store, triggering a behind-the-scenes robot to search for the package in a small warehouse, and deliver it quickly to a drop box.
The world's oil supply chains increasingly will run through the U.S. The International Energy Agency says the country will overtake Russia to become the world's largest oil producer by 2023, the WSJ's Sarah Kent and Timothy Puko report, in a stark sign of how a U.S. oil and gas boom is overhauling global energy markets. The industry monitor says the growth in the U.S., which is expected to produce a record of 12.1 million barrels a day in five years, is part of a broader movement away from OPEC countries. The pace is getting the U.S. closer to producing enough crude to meet domestic demand, and it's bringing greater influence in global markets. U.S. oil exports are forecast to more than double by 2023, putting more pressure to expand exporting capacity, including port terminals and shipping. Tanker capacity globally has been on the upswing, and a recent spike in orders for very large crude carriers pushed the backlog at Korean and Japanese ship yards to around 100 ships.
ECONOMY & TRADE
The price tag on new infrastructure projects is rising and could go still higher just as the U.S. is preparing to build more highways and bridges. President Donald Trump's move to impose tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports could end up undermining the president's agenda to rebuild American infrastructure, the WSJ's David Harrison writes, casting new clouds over a building plan that's already facing headwinds in Washington. An improved global economic outlook has already raised demand, and prices, for building materials. One index of prices for a broad set of construction materials rose at its fastest pace in seven years in November, and was up 4.9% in January. Economists don't expect proposed tariffs to have a big impact on the broader U.S. economy, but the construction business is a big consumer of steel and aluminum. Experts say new curbs on imports and rising domestic materials costs mean $1.5 trillion won't buy as much as infrastructure as it used to.
IN OTHER NEWS
House Speaker Paul Ryan broke with the Trump administration in warning that potential tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could trigger a trade war. (WSJ)
Luc Jobin abruptly resigned as chief executive of Canadian National Inc. amid what CN's board said are "operational and customer service challenges" at the railroad. (WSJ)
Growth across U.S. service industries continued at a solid pace in February. (WSJ)
The volume of retail sales fell in the eurozone for the second straight month during January. (WSJ)
The Trump administration is urging the Supreme Court to expand states' authority to collect sales tax on internet transactions. (WSJ)
The head of Kobe Steel Ltd. will step down, taking responsibility for the quality scandal at the industrial metals supplier. (WSJ)
Revenue at toy maker Lego A/S fell 7.7% last year to $5.8 million, pushing earnings down 17%. (WSJ)
Agricultural investment firm Continental Grain Co. is preparing to push Bunge Ltd. to sell itself. (WSJ)
Beijing-based Xiaomi Corp. may start selling smartphones in the U.S. as early as this year. (WSJ)
U.S. maritime regulators will investigate a container shipping carrier practice of assessing shippers with special charges when their shipments are detained at ports. (American Shipper)
The US is offering Britain a more restrictive air services agreement after Brexit than it had as a European Union member. (Financial Times)
Costco Wholesale Corp. will open a national distribution center for Australia on a 35-acre site outside Sidney. (9News)
Fitch Ratings warned that "persistent overcapacity" may undermine a container shipping rebound. (The Loadstar)
TMS Cardiff Gas is adding orders for liquefied natural gas vessels that could double its LNG fleet. (Lloyd's List)
North Carolina officials are concerned growing Port of Wilmington volumes will create longer freight trains that disrupt local business. (Winston-Salem Journal)
The White House nominated Senate staffer Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz, a commuter rail agency attorney, to the Surface Transportation Board. (Railway Age)
Siemens AG will place a rail equipment factory in central England, near Leeds. (Rail Journal)
Former Maersk Line chief executive Nils Smedegaard Andersen was nominated chairman of Danish paints and coatings maker Akzo Nobel. (Reuters)
Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the rest of the WSJ Logistics Report team: @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 06, 2018 06:45 ET (11:45 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.