Inbound Logistics | January 2022


Drained Lithium Batteries Get a Life A team of scientists from the Department of Energy and Stanford found a way to revive dead lithium-ion batteries, extending their battery life up to 30%. The lithium-ion batteries found in most modern electric vehicles (EVs) tend to lose energy capacity as they get charged, spent, and re-charged. That happens because small bits of lithium get cut off from the battery’s electrodes during the charging process. The scientists discovered how to reactivate the “dead” lithium that causes EV batteries to lose capacity. The diminishing usefulness of its battery is a major criticism of EV adoption. If this new technology can extend battery usefulness, that means fewer emissions and lower-priced EVs that are more accessible to shippers. The scientists validated the results of their study with multiple test batteries and through computer simulations. The results also demonstrate how isolated lithium ions could be recovered in a real battery by changing the charging protocol.

FedEx Aims for Anti-Missile Lasers In a new move for a carrier, FedEx has requested permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to equip a eet of its Airbus A321-200 aircraft with an anti-missile laser system that disrupts heat-seeking missile tracking. FedEx referenced prior incidents in which attackers used portable air defense systems against civilian aircraft, such as Iran shooting down a Ukranian airliner in January 2020, reportedly due to mistaking the jet for a cruise missile. The Federal Aviation Administration says it’s open to approval, but outlined special conditions FedEx has to meet before the system can enter service, including fail-safes to prevent activation on the ground and not causing harm to any aircraft or people. This type of defense isn’t new—some commercial aircraft in the United States have used anti-missile systems since 2008, and FedEx helped trial a Northrop Grumman defense system around the same time. Israel’s El Al airline has used anti- missile systems since 2004.

1. Supply chain disruptions will continue to plague the industry through much of 2022, creating more pressure for 3PLs to provide strategic insight into inventory and risk management and provide greater demand planning sophistication. 2. Omnichannel fulfillment will become even more prominent as companies seek to expand sales channels and leverage the same inventory to fulfill across all channels, pivoting to support where demand is highest. 3. 3PLs and 4PLs will need to collaborate with other warehouses to create integrated ecosystems that support the level of sophistication in today’s supply chain. 4. Technology is transforming rapidly, with companies shifting to more highly adaptable cloud-based software that leverages fulfillment innovations and integrates with the broader logistics ecosystem.

4 Trends for 3PLs in 2022

Order volumes grew for 79% of third-party logistics (3PL) providers in 2021, but that growth was tempered by inventory availability and disruptions that cost the U.S. economy $228 billion, says a report from 3PL Central. Disruptions, technology innovations, and consumer demands will persist in 2022. These are the four key trends impacting 3PLs in the coming year, the report says:

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