Dynamo Dispatch (11/05/18)

Issue 42 | FoSC Podcast Launch, Grocery Robotics, UPS Fleet Electrification Survey

Dynamo Dispatch. Weekly update from Dynamo covering the latest and greatest in commerce and trade, #logisticstechnology, and building venture-scale businesses.

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Weekly Commentary 💭

After an earlier experiment in podcasting, we launched our podcast series, Future of Supply Chain. On each episode, we sit down with a different entrepreneur, investor, or industry veteran to discuss their story, technologies and opportunities in supply chain, and how we can collectively build the future of supply chain.

Episode 1 is a discussion with Alan Amling of UPS Ventures that’s focused on how the gap between manufacturing and logistics are shrinking as additive manufacturing comes of age.

We're on iTunes, SoundCloud, Overcast, Stitcher, and other major podcast apps. Give us a listen, review, and subscribe + share!

We Are Dynamo,

Santosh 💥

What We’re Reading 📖

Supply Chain

Robotics Enter the Grocery Fulfillment Ecosystem. This week, Albertsons announced that in partnership with Takeoff Technologies, Albertsons will section-off select locations where it will implement AS/RS and conveyors to bring products to an associate who will be responsible for the ultimate preparation. It joins Schnucks, Walmart, Kroger/Ocado, and more in using various technologies to streamline retrieval, packing, fulfillment, and more.

UPS to "Empty" Network as Strike Looms. UPS is telling customers to find alternate carriers as it looks to empty it's network ahead of the Teamsters vote/potential strike. The unit accounts 5% of total sales and is the lowest margin business in the group.

Pfizer's Digital Supply Chain Project. Pfizer has built a visibility system called (leverages GT Nexus middleware) that tracks 15k SKUs and is ramping across product lines and lanes. Interesting to note that the ROI was assumed to be large given the inefficiency in incumbent processes.

XPO to Modernize LTL Pricing. Over a two-year time frame, XPO has ambitions to implement a dynamic, demand-based pricing system for LTL freight. It will mimic those systems found in the travel industry and assume various inputs that make LTL pricing amazingly complex and increasingly difficult for a human to calculate and manage. XPO will also deploy a first/last mile routing system.

The Impact of ELDs, 10 Month Survey. While ELDs are forcing fleets to stay compliant and have spurred the need for more qualified staff but a lack of experienced drivers make it difficult. 77% of fleets are being more choosy about the shippers and facilities they service as they focus on resting and staying within federally mandated hours.

Micropsi Raises $6M for Robot Control Software. Micropsi will ramp the go-to-market of their Mirai suite of tools. Mirai helps robotic systems learn from humans using imitation and transfer learning that allows faster deployment of industrial robots.

Planning is the Precursor to Supply Chain Automation. "A large part of supply chain planning still relies on labor-intensive data aggregation, human analysis, and personal judgment." Automation will be closer to reality if we can standardize data (both legacy and modern), share it, and prepare the analysis. Humans can then exert judgement to make an ultimate decision.

Walmart to Open Sam's Club Now This Week. The new Dallas, TX store will support Walmart's build vs buy strategy as it pertains to retail enabling technology. The location will be a test bed for concepts like vision-based inventory management, in-store navigation, dynamic shelf labels, and more.


Motivations & Barriers to Fleet Electrification. UPS' recent survey of corporate fleets about electrification shows that corporate sustainability (83%), lower TCO (64%), and better PR (30%) are top reasons for adoption. The top 3 barriers include: initial cost (55%); internal charging infrastructure (44%); poor product availability (35%). The good news is that the major barriers are natural in this stage of the technology and will be drastically reduced as time goes on.

VW/Ford AV Partnership Discussions. It's been rumored over the last several weeks that VW and Ford are trying to figure out a structure to jointly advance their AV ambitions. It's been floated that VW could buy a 50% stake in Ford's AV efforts or both contribute all their AV assets into a JV.

Meet the GM eBike. GM revealed two models (one foldable and the other note) that allow it to enter the growing micromobility market but technical specs are scant. It appears that battery capacity is likely limited (and perhaps more of an assist to the pedals).

The Impact of New Auto Technologies on Repair Bills. Shouldn't be a surprise that new technology is costlier to replace. AAA has quantified the replacement and calibration costs in event of a collision. For example, a minor collision in front or rear could require ADAS repairs of $5,000+ (almost double vs legacy configurations).

Uber ATG Safety Report. Uber is attempting to restart it's self driving program and released a new safety report this week. It's a loaded document but worth a scan — some relevant details on technology and approach to testing.

Could AI Help Trains Run on Time?. British researchers believe that an application of vision technology on CCTV output can help station staff ID and remedy problems to keep trains running on time. The product can ID passengers, luggage, wheelchairs, etc; predict their movement; and compare that to key areas such as safety zones and train doors. In rail, delays compound overtime and many are avoidable — over 50% of delays occur due to passengers keeping doors open in an attempt to board after the scheduled departure time.

Waymo OK to Test in California. The California DMV has authorized Waymo to test their driverless vehicles without a safety driver. Waymo can test day and night in rural and urban areas with speeds up to 65 mph. The cars can handle fog and light rain — they will be tested in such environments and congested city streets over-time.

Company Building

Broken Syndicates. Syndicates are important in fundraising and can help bring together complementary investors to support a founding team — through good times and bad. Founders should understand how reserves are unlocked in bridge/extensions especially when times get tough or traction takes more time.

Guide to Raising Seed Capital. Six important questions every entrepreneur should answer to prepare for your pitch, whether you’re pre-product, or bootstrapped and profitable.

Scaling Empowerment. It turns out that growing and scaling a business requires best-in-class talent. An often understated aspect is the ability of the founders to let-go and empower their team.

What We’re Listening To 🎧

Recode Decode: Elon Musk on "Excruciating" 2018. AKara Swisher interviews Musk about the state of his various companies, the future of Tesla, his Twitter following, taking Saudi investment, and more.

The Future of Supply Chain: Alan Amling on 3D Printing & Logistics. Digital foundations are shrinking the gap between manufacturing and logistics. I join Alan to discuss the phenomenon on our new podcast.

Who's Hiring? 👩‍💻

Senior Research Engineer: Localization & Mapping at Gatik AI in Sunnyvale, CA.

Supplier Success at Stord in Atlanta, GA.

BI Analyst at Sennder in Berlin, Germany.

Check out other jobs at Dynamo portfolio companies.