The Friday Report Blog: November 17th, 2023

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

Meet Titan: Amazon’s Newest Robotic Powerhouse in Warehousing

Amazon is elevating its fulfillment center capabilities with the introduction of Titan, a powerful new mobile robot designed to transport heavy items with ease. Already in action at a San Antonio, Texas, center, Titan boasts the ability to lift an impressive 2,500 pounds, streamlining the movement of bulkier goods like appliances and pallets of pet food.

Engineered in Amazon’s Massachusetts innovation hub, Titan incorporates advanced technologies from its robotic siblings, including Xanthus’ computer vision and Hercules’ battery management. This launch is a part of Amazon’s ongoing commitment to enhancing automation in its fulfillment network, aiming to improve efficiency and workplace safety.

In 2022, Amazon’s robotics-enhanced sites demonstrated significantly lower incident rates compared to traditional sites, underscoring the safety benefits of such technologies. Titan not only minimizes physical strain for employees but also opens up opportunities for them to engage in more skilled tasks.

This heavy-lifter can carry double the weight of the Hercules bot, another Amazon innovation, promising further enhancements in inventory transport and storage. With over 750,000 robots in action globally, Amazon continues to explore robotics potential, including testing the two-legged Digit robot for handling empty totes. This technological advancement is set to redefine efficiency and safety in Amazon’s operations.

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UPS Steps Up for Employees with Game-Changing Childcare Program Expansion

UPS is innovating in the realm of employee benefits by broadening its emergency childcare program, aimed at boosting retention and reducing absenteeism among its frontline workforce. Initially piloted in their Lathrop, California facility, the program in partnership with Patch Caregiving provides on-site daycare as a backup for employees when their regular childcare solutions are unavailable. This initiative addresses a common obstacle faced by logistics workers, ensuring that employees don’t have to miss work to care for their children.

The pilot program, which ran from August 2022 to January 2023, was a success, with 80% of eligible workers participating and utilizing the service multiple times. This led to a significant reduction in unplanned absences. The program also showed positive impacts on employee retention, particularly among parents.

Encouraged by these results, UPS is expanding the program to additional shifts at the Lathrop site and to selected sites in Pennsylvania, with plans to cover more facilities in 2024. The initiative is seen as especially beneficial for women and new employees at UPS, aiding them in balancing career progression and childcare responsibilities.

While the program is more suited to larger facilities that can accommodate childcare centers without safety concerns, it stands as a strategic move by UPS to distinguish itself in the competitive job market, potentially leading to long-term savings and enhanced employee satisfaction.

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Toyota & Redwood’s Vision for a Sustainable Battery Ecosystem

Toyota and Redwood Materials are enhancing their collaboration to revolutionize Toyota’s battery supply chain by incorporating recycled materials. This expanded partnership, announced on Nov. 16, enables Toyota to source recycled cathode active material and anode copper foil from Redwood for its upcoming battery production facility in North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

This initiative marks a significant shift towards domestic sourcing of materials, reducing carbon footprints and reliance on international supply chains. It also aligns with Toyota’s vision of a sustainable, closed-loop battery ecosystem in North America, as the company anticipates an increasing need for recycling with its first-generation Prius vehicles nearing the
end of their life cycle.

The collaboration aims to recycle, remanufacture, and repurpose nearly five million battery units, with Redwood expanding its facilities in Nevada and breaking ground on a new campus in South Carolina. This move signifies a major step in fostering a sustainable automotive future, as more industry players like Honda also engage in similar endeavors to secure recycled battery materials for electric vehicle production.

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