Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Paul Page Features Dow Jones Newswires

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Amazon.com Inc. is betting that taking the last mile of delivery the final steps right into consumers' homes will give the company a new edge in online sales. The company is starting a connected door-lock and security-camera system dubbed "Amazon Key" to let package carriers in out of customers' homes, all of it controlled by an app. The plan plays to the online retail giant's package-delivery ambitions, the WSJ's Laura Stevens writes, enabling indoor drop-offs to customers as the company handles more of its own shipments. It's a step beyond the lockers Amazon is adding at various sites, including apartment buildings, and it looks to redraw both sales and delivery by embedding the company more completely in the daily lives of its customers. For parcel operators, the plan would shake up calculations on the costs of deliveries since Amazon would expect customers using Amazon Key to spend far more than usual online buyers. That would also mean consumers would have to recalculate expectations they have for privacy they may expect when locking the front door.

CSX Corp. may be trying to fix short-term and long-term concerns with a management shakeup. The freight railroad is bringing in a veteran of Chief Executive Hunter Harrison's past makeovers as chief operating officer, the WSJ's Paul Ziobro reports, as the carrier tries to repair service problems that have grown out of Mr. Harrison's efforts to reset the CSX network. Former Canadian National Railway executive James Foote is taking the key post as questions have grown over leadership succession plans at the railroad under the leadership of the 72-year-old Mr. Harrison. Mr. Foote is taking over all the duties now overseen by longtime CSX executives Cindy Sanborn and Fredrik Eliasson, currently chief sales and marketing officer. Mr. Harrison pointed to Mr. Foote's deep understanding of the precision railroading philosophy in bringing him in. Quieting customer complaints about service problems in putting the plan into place would likely put Mr. Foote in a good position to run the business over the long haul.

Toyota Motor Corp. is scaling back production plans in Mexico even as the company moves to make the supply chain there move faster. The seemingly contradictory actions are part of the auto maker's broader effort to make its manufacturing more nimble, helping the company respond more quickly and with less cost to shifting market demands. In Mexico, Toyota is cutting its production target to 100,000 Tacoma pickup trucks at its new Guanajuato plant, the WSJ's Sean McLain and Chester Dawson report, allowing the smaller plant to start the Tacomas rolling off the assembly line sooner. Toyota is trying to get more of its manufacturing to move more quickly, and it's expanding a revamped process from its core sedan models world-wide to light trucks. The idea is standardize production and share more components among vehicles, making assembly lines more flexible while cutting development times for new models because they use so many common parts.

SUPPLY CHAIN TECHNOLOGY

Blockchain technology may be on the table during the upcoming Thanksgiving Day holiday in the U.S. Agricultural conglomerate Cargill Inc. is test-driving the digital tool to let shoppers trace turkeys from the store back to the farm that raised them, the WSJ's Jacob Bunge reports, the latest attempt in the food industry to unravel the complicated distribution networks for farm goods. Blockchain consists of cloud-based records that can be shared across networks and can't be changed or removed, and it's being used in a growing array of fields, including financial transactions and health records. It's getting more attention in agriculture: In August, International Business Machines Corp. started working with food makers such as Dole Food Co. and Tyson Foods Inc. and retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to figure out where blockchain can improve food safety and reduce waste. Cargill says attaching the technology to its birds will help "bring the digital supply chain to life."

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

Demand for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose a robust 2.2% in September. (WSJ)

U.S. new-home sales rose in September at the fastest rate since 1992. (WSJ)

The White House launched a pilot program expanding commercial drone operations by using test sites with shared government oversight. (WSJ)

Boeing Co. raised its full-year profit and cash-flow guidance even as quarterly earnings fell from a year earlier. (WSJ)

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. is close to resolving class-action lawsuits concerning the safety of Chinese-made flooring. (WSJ)

Argentina's state-run YPF SA plans to invest more than $30 billion over the next five years to boost oil production. (WSJ)

U.S. hospitals are coping with worsening shortages of key medical supplies made in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. (New York Times)

Third-quarter profit at Norfolk Southern Corp. rose 10% to $506 million as the freight railroad posted its best-ever operating ratio. (Reuters)

Canadian National Railway is adding hundreds of workers after seeing service falter because of crew shortages. (Financial Post)

Direct ChassisLink Inc. will acquire rival TRAC Intermodal's fleet of 72,000 domestic chassis, consolidating the market for leasing port-trucking equipment. (American Shipper)

Container lines are changing schedules more frequently, adding to difficulties for customers in managing supply chains. (Journal of Commerce)

Central California's Merced County wants to put a cargo processing center connected by rail to the Port of Los Angeles at the former Castle Air Force Base. (KSFN)

WH Group Ltd.'s Smithfield Foods unit will sell and distribute pork products in China through JD.com. (National Hog Farmer)

Scorpio Bulkers Inc. abandoned plans to issue 10 million shares of common equity, citing weak pricing. (Lloyd's List)

Lufthansa Cargo swung to a $115.7 million profit in the first nine months of the year on strong gains in shipping volume and pricing. (The Loadstar)

India's Mahindra Logistics Ltd. plans to launch an initial public offering next week. (The Hindu)

France is coping with a butter shortage, leading to reduced pastry production. (The Guardian)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin , @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 26, 2017 06:31 ET (10:31 GMT)