By Paul Page 

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Plans for distributing a Covid-19 vaccine remain a work in progress as the shots move closer to approval. State officials and medical-supply experts say critical issues weren't resolved in the federal government's release of two vaccine-distribution plans this week. The WSJ's Peter Loftus and Jared S. Hopkins report the slow ramp-up for a distribution strategy could hamper efforts to get doses quickly to health-care workers and others at high risk of infection. Some states might not initially get all of the supplies they were expecting, or have the freezer capacity needed to safely store their drug allocation.

Transportation and logistics companies have been preparing for the potential sudden rush to distribute doses through temperature-controlled networks with little margin for error. The federal program through Operation Warp Speed sketches out distribution of any vaccine that regulators authorize for use, including starting shipments within 24 hours of the green light. But medical experts say it doesn't detail how cold-storage for some vaccines should be handled, for instance, and that states may be left to create their own separate plans for warehousing and distributing doses.

ECONOMY & TRADE

A decoupling from China trade is coming from a surprising direction. Germany's exporters aren't getting much of a lift from demand in China, the WSJ's Tom Fairless reports, highlighting significant and potentially long-lasting changes in trade patterns since the pandemic began. Germany's exporters are benefiting from a recovery in international trade, but the country's outbound flows to China remain far below year-ago levels. That suggests a possible a tipping point in Germany's relationship with China, its largest trading partner and a big buyer of German industrial robots, factory equipment and vehicles. The trade flows were so strong that German companies took double-digit sales growth to China for granted. Beijing is now encouraging manufacturers to produce more sophisticated machinery that can rival high-end German capital goods. German exporters now are looking at the loss of a lucrative sales channel along with more competition in other markets.

MANUFACTURING

Ford Motor Co. is giving U.S. automotive supply chains a badly needed boost. The car marker is expanding its largest and oldest factory to make electric pickup trucks, the WSJ's Mike Colias reports, a high-profile manufacturing investment that will ramp up assembly lines at a plant a few miles from the company's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. Ford's top executives underscored the company's commitment to American manufacturing in announcing the $700 million investment, which will also take the company deeper into the electric-vehicle market. Ford plans to make battery-powered versions of its flagship F-150 pickup at the plant starting in 2022. Overall automobile sales have been off sharply during the pandemic and companies have been paring production, keeping inventories low and helping prop up pricing. Automotive shipments on U.S. railroads are down nearly 27% this year, according to the Association of American Railroads, but were nearly flat in August.

QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

United Parcel Service Inc. plans to offer buyouts to some management employees in a move to cut payroll costs. (WSJ)

The number of Americans filing new unemployment claims has remained largely steady since early August. (WSJ)

A House panel's investigation into Boeing's 737 MAX provides support for far-reaching changes to air-safety laws. (WSJ)

Top executives at major airlines pleaded at the White House for more job-saving government aid. (WSJ)

Latam Airlines Group Inc. is bringing in hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management to supply loans in a $2.45 billion bankruptcy financing package. (WSJ)

Southwest Airlines Inc. temporarily grounded 115 planes over discrepancies in weight data. (WSJ)

Auto-parts supplier Garrett Motion Inc. is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing amid slowing sales and rising tensions over asbestos injury payments. (WSJ)

A U.S. judge blocked controversial U.S. Postal Service changes that have slowed mail nationwide, calling them "politically motivated." (Associated Press)

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S will cut jobs in a major shakeup that could affect up to a third of the shipping giant's staff. (Reuters)

Amazon.com Inc. plans to open 1,000 small delivery hubs in cities and suburbs around the U.S. (Bloomberg)

Fast-fashion rivals Zara and Hennes & Mauritz are taking different approaches toward inventory management during the pandemic. (Sourcing Journal)

Online pet-products retailer Chewy Inc. added a fulfillment center with only high-demand products to cope with potential inventory shortages. (Supply Chain Dive)

Global exports of refined oil products reached multiyear lows in July. (Lloyd's List)

Job actions by Australian dock workers are causing cargo backups at Sydney's Port Botany. (The Loadstar)

Container terminal operator Hutchison Ports named former U.K. transport minister Chris Grayling as an advisor. (BBC)

Temperature-controlled logistics specialist Lineage Logistics LLC raised $1.6 billion in an equity offering aimed at backing expansion plans. (Crain's Detroit Business)

FreightCar America Inc. is closing a rail equipment factory in northwest Alabama. (WHNT)

Delta Air Lines Inc. removed seats from a 777 passenger jet in the first move by a U.S. carrier to undertake the temporary freighter modification. (Air Cargo World)

Expedited trucker Forward Air acquired the assets of Tennessee-based last-mile company CLW Delivery. (Logistics Management)

French freight forwarder Geodis named Mike Honious chief executive for the Americas, replacing Randy Tucker. (Air Cargo News)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage , @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2020 09:56 ET (13:56 GMT)

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