The Friday Report Blog: February 10th, 2023

Quick wrap up of a few hot topic newsworthy stories in the supply chain logistics industry

Sam’s Club to Expand Automated Fulfillment Operations

Big-box retailer Sam’s Club recently announced plans to invest in automated fulfillment in preparation for the opening of 30 new stores across the United States. The retailer will open five stores in 2023, with the first in Georgia in the third quarter of the year. Sam’s Club has stated that the new stores will be 160,000 square feet. The stores will have space designated for curbside pickup as well as home deliveries. In addition, the new locations will be equipped with walk-in coolers and expanded doors to optimize outgoing truck delivery.

Sam’s Club says that the combination of new stores and automated technology will enable the company to operate an advanced supply chain capable of getting orders to customers faster. Sam’s Club also plans to retrofit several of its existing stores with automation fulfillment technology.

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General Motors Announces Plans to Develop Lithium Mine

General Motors (GM) has announced plans to invest $650 million into mining specialist Lithium Americas to source lithium for its growing electric vehicle manufacturing operations. Under the deal, GM and Lithium Americas will work together to develop the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada. The mine is the largest known source of lithium in the United States and the third largest in the world. The company expects operations at the Thacker Pass mine to begin in the summer of 2026.

Lithium gathered from the mine will be used to manufacture GM’s Ultium battery cells. The electric vehicle battery cells are used in a number of GM’s vehicles, such as the Hummer EV Pickup, Chevrolet Equinox EV, and Silverado EV.

GM currently has enough electric vehicle battery materials on-hand to produce over one million EV’s in North America through 2025. Due to this the company will open four electric battery plants to support its manufacturing efforts. The sites in Tennessee and Michigan are scheduled to open in 2023 and 2024. 

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Maersk To Use Drones for Warehouse Inventory Management

Global logistics provider Maersk will begin using autonomous drones to help shippers track inventory. Drones are currently in use at four warehouse facilities, however the company has plans to expand its use of drones across its entire warehousing network.

The drones, manufactured by Verity, survey stacks of pallets to take pictures of stock keeping units (SKUs). They then compare the captured data against the warehouse management system and automatically send inventory information to the corresponding shipper. Maersk hopes the drones will help identify and prevent any potential inventory errors.

Ingka Group, owner of Ikea, and logistics company DSV also utilize Verity’s drones to manage palletized storage inventory.

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