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Week in Review: Bobbleheads, Benefit Managers, & Border Battles – A Tumultuous Turn in Logistics

March 21, 2024

March 21, 2024

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Every click and swipe brings logistics news, but a few unique stories stand out this week. First, the U.S. battles a tidal wave of cargo thefts, bleeding businesses of nearly $700 million. Then, in an unexpected twist, John Deere and SpaceX are joining forces, aiming to revolutionize farming with a dash of space-age tech. Meanwhile, we focus again on cargo theft—with hockey fans left reeling from a bizarre heist which ruined Jaromir Jagr bobblehead night in Pittsburgh. In the shadows, the murky operations of Pharmacy Benefit Managers stir controversy while the UK's logistics sector braces for impact, with new EU import checks threatening to disrupt the cold chain and food supply. And now let’s dive into the latest unpredictable, challenging, and resilient updates shaking up the supply chain as we know it.

Cargo Thefts Surge Amid Supply Shortages

As recently reported by Forbes, the U.S. continues to witness a dramatic rise in cargo theft. And with businesses scrambling for high-end and high-demand goods, the trends appear even more alarming than once feared.

A Soaring Threat

In 2023, there was an unsettling spike in cargo theft incidents with 1,183 reports averaging losses of $586,917 each—totaling roughly $700 million in stolen goods. Although these figures mark a 67% increase from the previous year's average loss, the worst may be ahead. Experts from Overhaul Risk Advisory Services project an additional 35% uptick in thefts for 2024.

Technological Defense & Market Pressures

Behind this surge lies a desperate market that is ready to procure goods by any means, often disregarding the legitimacy of sources. Visibility tech solutions like Tive aim to help by leveraging cutting-edge technology and real-time visibility to help secure cargo. However, the persistent supply shortages fuel a relentless demand—leaving businesses in a quandary over meeting customer expectations without succumbing to the appeal of illicitly-acquired products.

John Deere & SpaceX: Transforming Food Production?

On the surface, John Deere and Elon Musk have nothing in common. Yet this odd couple is teaming up to revolutionize food production through advanced automation—bridging the gap in rural connectivity, and offering new horizons for efficient and sustainable agriculture.

A Leap Forward in Farming

With a history spanning 188 years, John Deere has deep expertise in farm machinery. But when you combine that with Musk’s SpaceX's pioneering satellite technology, it promises to address the critical challenge of rural internet connectivity. With this collaboration set to bolster farm operations by enabling precise, real-time coordination between machines and optimizing machine performance, there’s tangible potential for increased efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability through better connectivity.

The Future of Agriculture

This partnership goes beyond just bringing cutting-edge technology into farming; it has the potential to reshape the food supply chain from its very roots. Integrating enterprise-level automation across rural farms around the globe sets out to drastically enhance both efficiency and sustainability—everything from creating exact maps of cultivable land to improving the management of water and fertilizers. Moreover, the collaboration aims to tackle seasonal labor shortages by introducing solutions like robotic farm machinery and massive 10-ton harvesters.

Unexpected Play: NHL Hit by Cargo Theft

Here’s one you might not have expected. Cargo theft has struck the National Hockey League, ruining the Pittsburgh Penguins' planned Jaromir Jagr bobblehead night. Yes, you read that correctly.  

Bobbleheads Go Missing

Jaromir Jagr—a legend among the Pittsburgh Penguins, around the NHL, and in other international leagues—was set to be honored with a special bobblehead giveaway during a game against the San Jose Sharks on March 14. Fans were eagerly anticipating this tribute to one of hockey's legends. But cargo thieves had a different game plan, intercepting the shipment of bobbleheads upon its arrival in California—leaving the Penguins organization with no choice but to give disappointed fans nothing but a voucher and an explanation.

The Penguins Respond

Kevin Acklin, Penguins' president of business operations, quickly announced the engagement of state and federal authorities to recover the stolen goods. While it's commendable that the Penguins are taking action, this cargo theft episode teaches us a valuable lesson. Cargo thieves aren't picky; the time is now to get proactive. They don’t care whether they’re stealing high-value goods, hard lemonade, or Jaromir Jagr bobbleheads—as long as they can profit.  

Unseen Forces Shaping U.S. Pharma Pricing

Now, let’s shift focus to U.S. pharmaceuticals to discuss a critical—but often overlooked—component dictating drug prices and availability: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Initially designed to save costs, these entities' current operations are sparking widespread concern and debate.

The Controversial Role of PBMs

PBMs, operating between insurers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, profoundly impact which drugs are covered and their costs. However, profit-driven tactics—such as favoring expensive medications and cutting drug reimbursement rates—harm patients and small pharmacies alike. Despite bipartisan efforts and the support of 39 state attorneys general aiming to regulate them, a staggering $50 million in industry lobbying has put potential reforms—and the future of pharmaceutical pricing and access in the U.S.—at risk.

Dire Consequences for Independent Pharmacies

The practices of PBMs also threaten the survival of independent pharmacies. With reimbursement rates often failing to cover the costs of purchasing and dispensing medications, these small businesses face the grim prospect of closure—especially with the number of independent pharmacies already plummeting by nearly 50% from 1980 to 2022. If unchecked, the continued dominance and unregulated practices of PBMs could lead to even more closures by the end of 2024, leaving many communities without vital access to healthcare services and personalized care.

Cold Chain Challenges: The UK at a Crossroads

The Cold Chain Federation recently voiced concerns over the UK government's plans to enforce rigorous border inspections on EU imports. With the spotlight on the potential headwinds for temperature-sensitive goods, the logistics sector braces for a transformative period.

The Impact on Temperature-Controlled Logistics

At the heart of the federation's worries are the administrative and financial strains these new checks could impose—particularly on EU food businesses. Chief Executive Phil Pluck warns that smaller producers might halt exports to the UK altogether, leading to a direct hit on consumer prices. The federation's critique extends to the preparedness of Border Control Posts for temperature regulation, the oversight in accommodating same-day deliveries, and the overall readiness to handle the details of temperature-controlled shipments.

Calls for Adaptation & Support

In response to these impending challenges, the federation proposes pragmatic solutions, such as expanding the “trusted trader pilot” to mitigate the impact on the industry. It also stresses the importance of simplifying paperwork and inspection protocols to secure the fluidity of haulage operations in maintaining the UK's food supply chain. By advocating for assistance in issuing Export Health Certificates, the federation aims to secure a seamless transition—and maintain the continuity of food supplies without compromising quality or availability.

Brace for Today's Logistics Challenges with Tive

As we've seen, modern logistics has challenges running the gamut from theft and supply chain disruptions to the evolving demands of agriculture and healthcare. These stories from the past week not only highlight the vulnerabilities inherent in our interconnected world—they also stress the urgent need for innovative solutions that can secure and optimize our global supply chains. That's where Tive comes into play:

  • Trackers: Revolutionize your shipment tracking with Tive's advanced Solo 5G trackers, offering real-time location and condition monitoring to ensure the security and integrity of your cargo.
  • Tive Tag: Enhance perishable shipment protection with Tive Tag—an affordable and reusable paper-thin temperature logger—to verify that your delicate goods remain pristine throughout transit.
  • Platform: Streamline your supply chain management with Tive's intuitive cloud platform, offering comprehensive visibility, analytics, and integration capabilities for seamless shipment tracking and monitoring.
  • Industries: Tive caters to a diverse range of industries, ensuring tailored solutions for unique supply chain challenges—from perishables to high-value goods to transportation and logistics to pharmaceuticals… and beyond.
  • 24/7 Live Monitoring: The Tive team is available to help ensure your shipments are constantly watched and managed—to ensure timely and secure delivery.

Arm yourself with innovation: let Tive lead the way in transforming your supply chain operations. Embrace the future of logistics–get started with Tive today.

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