By Paul Page 

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Planning and tracking technology is forming around the sprawling supply chain for prospective Covid-19 vaccines. Data-mining company Palantir Technologies Inc. is helping the federal government set up the system that will track the manufacture, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines, the WSJ's Peter Loftus and Rolfe Winkler, even as big drugmakers continue to develop and test hoped-for medical solutions to the pandemic. The tracking system, dubbed Tiberius, would build on work that Palantir has been doing for federal health officials tracking coronavirus hospitalizations. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are already using their more focused supply-chain technologies and visibility tools to manage the transport progress of vaccines from sourcing to distribution. The Tiberius platform would take data from those companies, distributors and others involved with vaccines and integrate it with demographic and other health data to help health authorities make decisions on where to send doses and to track the results.

TRANSPORTATION

A new report details a dramatic and lasting slowdown in mail delivery after former logistics executive Louis DeJoy became postmaster general. The report by the U.S. Postal Service's inspector general says actions Mr. DeJoy initiated or which were accelerated after he took office in June resulted in widespread pileups of mail. The WSJ's Rebecca Smith and Joe Palazzolo write that the report says backups at processing facilities and post offices still haven't been eliminated, casting a shadow over the Postal Service because of the heightened role mail delivery plays this year during the presidential election and the pandemic. The problems are adding to the headaches of shippers this year as the surge in digital commerce has stressed parcel networks. The report said on-time delivery of first-class mail plunged below 80% in July and was 86.8% as of Sept. 3, still well below an internal target of 96%.

TRANSPORTATION

Megaships were supposed to bring a new shine to the bottom lines of container ship operators and stimulate a new era of fast-growing international trade. Economist and historian Marc Levinson argues in a WSJ essay that the opposite has occurred, with the behemoth Emma Maersk that launched in 2006 and the larger vessels in the ship's wake making freight transportation slower and less reliable. Mr. Levinson, author of a new book, "Outside the Box: How Globalization Changed from Moving Stuff to Spreading Ideas," have helped stifle globalization by slowing the movement of industrial commerce and undermining confidence in tightly organized supply chains. Shippers have borne a burden by keeping more inventory, reversing a decades-long focus on minimizing production, transportation and inventory costs. Some shipping experts will argue with that assessment but container lines may be more measured. They're making big profits this year, after all, operating with less capacity.

QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

New U.S. applications for unemployment benefits fell but remain far above pre-pandemic peaks. (WSJ)

Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. rose to a 14-year high in September. (WSJ)

Turkey's currency fell to a record low against the dollar. (WSJ)

Persian Gulf waters off Iraq have become an important waypoint for Iranian oil smugglers looking to avoid U.S. sanctions. (WSJ)

Walmart Inc. is suing the federal government in a pre-emptive move against what it said is an impending opioid-related civil lawsuit. (WSJ)

United Parcel Service Inc. plans to offer nearly 100,000 of its workers a way to save for emergencies within its retirement plan. (WSJ)

A California court says Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. must comply with an order that requires them to reclassify their drivers as employees. (WSJ)

American Airlines Group Inc. lost $2.4 billion in the third quarter and Southwest Airlines lost $1.2 billion despite an uptick in passenger traffic. (WSJ)

Pandemic-driven consumer purchasing drove Unilever Ltd.'s North American underlying sales up 9.1% in the third quarter. (WSJ)

Coca-Cola Co. expects to see growth this year in China, even as global sales decline. (WSJ)

Gucci's third-quarter sales fell 12%, lagging other big luxury labels. (WSJ)

Apparel retailer Gap Inc. will close about 350 U.S. stores as it focuses on growing digital sales. (CNBC)

Huawei Technologies Inc. has stockpiled chips as it launches a smartphone amid U.S. sanctions on the Chinese company. (Washington Post)

Airbus SE has told suppliers it expects to boost production of its A320neo aircraft by nearly 18% next year. (Financial Times)

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is close to halting development of a regional jet. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Shippers are paying record fees for empty containers because of a steep imbalance in trade in and out of China. (Lloyd's List)

Loaded container imports into the ports of Seattle and Tacoma reached their highest level in a year in September but were off 6.8% from last year. (Port Technology)

An investigation concludes that decaying dangerous cargo caused the 2018 fire that heavily damaged the Maersk Honam and killed five seafarers. (ShippingWatch)

Scorpio Bulkers Inc. is on pace to shed the last of its bulk ships by the end of the first quarter. (TradeWinds)

Union Pacific Corp.'s freight volumes rose 19% from the second quarter to the third quarter while costs rose 11%. (Dow Jones Newswires)

CSX Corp.'s third-quarter operating income fell 11% to $1.1 billion. (Trains)

Wales will nationalize its passenger rail service. (BBC)

E-commerce facilities represented 37% of all new leases for Prologis Inc. in the third quarter, above the historical average of 21%. (Supply Chain Dive)

Amazon.com Inc. is building a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Hagerstown, Md. (Herald Mail)

Sam's Club will have its store robots take inventory while they scrub floors. (Progressive Grocer)

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

October 23, 2020 10:54 ET (14:54 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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