The Friday Report Blog: September 16th, 2022

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

Amazon Agrees to Purchase Cloostermans to Boost Robotics Business

Last week Amazon agreed to acquire Belgium-based mechatronics company, Cloosetermans, a made-to-order manufacturer of mechatronics that offers manufacturing and assembly technology. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies have partnered since 2019, with Amazon using Cloosterman technology in its warehouses to move and stack pallets as well as to help package products. Amazon plans to incorporate Cloostermans and its 200 employees into its robotics division, Amazon Global Robotics, to support employees, improve safety, and reduce packaging waste.

Currently, Amazon Global Robotics utilizes over a dozen different robotics systems within its warehousing operations. Cloostermans joins Kiva Systems and Canvas Technology as companies that have folded into Amazon.

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Employers, Unions Reach Tentative Deal to Halt Rail Strike

President Joe Biden announced that a deal has been reached to stop a rail shutdown that would have disrupted supply chains across the country. The tentative deal was reached after 20 hours of discussions. The agreement, representing 115,000 railroad employees, is now under a vote by union members. During the vote, employees will not strike. The deal includes a near 24% wage increase over a period of five years, with 14.1% of that increase coming immediately. In addition, there will be $1,000 lump sum payments to employees in each of the five years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of U.S. railway workers has decreased from 600,000 in 1970 to 150,000 in 2022. In the last six years, the railroad industry has cut nearly 30% of its workforce, even while profits and stock prices have skyrocketed.

The impact of the rail shutdown would have stretched from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico and could have halted 30% of U.S. cargo shipments. This would have affected industries such as energy, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, costing the U.S. economy more than $2 billion per day.

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Bosch to Invest in Electric Vehicle Fuel Cell

Bosch has announced plans to invest over $200 million into its Anderson, South Carolina facility to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells. The fuel cells will be for heavy-duty electric trucks. The expansion will build its fuel cell stack manufacturing capacity, which also includes key sub-components. It will also add 350 jobs.

The company’s plans include an additional 147,000 square feet of warehouse floor space to build fuel cell stacks. The space will be climate controlled for quality assurance. Production on the fuel cells is set to begin in 2026.

Bosch has committed to spend over $1 billion by 2024 to develop mobile fuel cell technology. The company currently supplies technology to electric truck manufacturer, Nikola. Bosch joins Toyota as one of a handful of companies that has announced plans to build fuel cells. Toyota plans to build heavy-duty truck fuel cells at its Kentucky plant starting in 2023.

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