Obama’s Clean Fleet Initiative stirs Companies towards Sustainability

National Carriers United Parcel Service and FedEx are thinking green. Both are part of Obama’s National Clean Partnership, which aims at reducing fuel consumption through measures such as electric vehicles and alternative fuels. FedEx and UPS are rivals in the sustainability movement. Other companies joining the movement include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and PepsiCo. UPS, FedEx and PepsiCo are also members of EPA’s SmartWay Program that focuses on cutting fuel use and greenhouse gases. These companies make up five out of ten of the Nation’s largest commercial fleets.

Obama created this initiative to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. The US consumes 25% of the world’s oil and contains 2% of the world’s oil reserve. In 2008, US imported around 11 million barrels of oil a day. By 2009, 4 billion gallons of fuel was being consumed by over 3 million commercial fleet vehicles. Obama states that the US uses 70% of its oil for transportation. On April 1st near UPS customer center in Landover, Obama spoke about Clean Fleet Partnership. “Even if we used every last drop of all the oil we have, it wouldn’t be enough to meet our long-term energy needs. So, real energy security can only come if we find ways to use less oil – if we invest in cleaner fuels and greater efficiency.”

The five companies operate over 275,000 vehicles. Clean Fleet plans to put an additional 20,000 electric vehicles like hybrid trucks on the road. They also want to conserve around 7 million gallons of diesel by having vehicles rely on electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen or propane. The benefits of switching over to these fuel saving measures include the economy being less vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices and less detriment to the environment. The Department of Energy will assist companies by providing technical expertise and logistical support.

The Coalition’s objectives include reduction of foreign oil imports by 33% by 2025 and a cut in commercial fleet gas consumption of 2.5 billion gallons by 2020. Through fuel-efficient vehicles, AT&T has already saved 1 million gallons of petroleum in 2010. Obama hopes that this partnership “will help reduce our dependence on oil, protect our planet, and spur economic growth.”

The Clean Fleet initiative could usher in a new age of acceptance and interest in alternative energies. One of the reasons the Clean Fleet Movement has not been widespread is due not to concern over sustainability, but the cost of converting to more sustainable means. Most companies do not have access to things such as hydrogen-powered vehicles. The Department of Energy has smoothed the transition to alternative energies for the five charter companies by providing resources. “It’s not that corporations or carriers are against the use of alternative fuel powered vehicles, they simply don’t want to have to bear the costs of converting their fleets” said Brittain Ladd, global supply chain consultant for CapGemini Consulting. “The Clean Fleets program provides the mechanism for increased collaboration among leading carriers”.

Staring March 1st, 2011, LaserShip – an East-Coast based Regional Carrier – has been implemnting eco-sensitive policies such as making employees receive paychecks through direct deposit or accessing payroll-related information electronically. This will reduce the printing of paper paystubs, reducing paper consumption and therefore, saving trees. In March 2008, LaserShip partnered with American Forests to launch the first of the two Ship Green initiatives. The first initiative aimed at converting LaserShip customers from paper invoicing to e-Billing. LaserShip donated a tree to American Forests for every customer that made the switch. “We all have a responsibility to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Blake Averill, Executive VP of Sales and Marketing, back in 2008. “The Ship Green initiative is an opportunity for us to offer an easier and more environmentally friendly way for our clients to receive, review and pay their LaserShip invoice.” Since 2008, over 800 LaserShip customers have converted from paper to e-Billing.

In August 2008 LaserShip launched the second Ship Green Initiative, which started to incorporate alternative fueled delivery vehicles into its fleet. These vehicles include natural gas powered, bio-diesel, and hybrid electric. “Our latest Ship Green initiative shows our commitment to pursue the use of promising technologies that both reduce fuel costs and provide more environmentally responsive vehicles for the communities in which we live and work” said Averill. “Our alternative fueled delivery vehicles will improve fuel economy by 42 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30 percent and cut particulate pollution by 96 percent” added Fred Aryan, President of LaserShip. “Our couriers consume a tremendous amount of energy, and it is incumbent upon us to find better and more efficient ways to provide service.”

Quidsi Expands Its Operations to Include All Of Man’s Best Friends.

Quidsi Incorporated, the company behind Soap.com and Diapers.com, has just announced their newest web wonder: Wag.com. Wag.com will supply customers with everything they could possibly need for their animal companions. The site boasts that it will offer over 10,000 different products for dogs, cats, fish, lizards, birds, and other small animals. Products will range from toys and treats to habitats.

Wag.com will use the universal checkout shared by sister sites diapers.com and soap.com. Universal checkout allows customers to buy from all the sites under the Quidsi umbrella and use the same checkout and shipping. Wag.com will also offer the same 24/7 award winning customer service shared by its sister sites and it boasts a 365 day return policy. In addition, there will be free two day shipping on all orders over $49.

News first broke of the new venture when Quidsi cofounder Marc Lore sent an email on June 6th informing all diapers.com customers that wag.com will debut in just a few weeks. LaserShip, already a proud shipper for Quidsi Inc. is looking forward to providing delivery services for this new website.

MCAA Goes to Capitol Hill

Last week, representatives from the Messenger Courier Association of America (MCAA) – including Fred Aryan, President of LaserShip Inc. and Didier Milongo, LaserShip’s Manager of Risk Management – met with law makers on Capitol Hill to educate them on the courier industry and the importance of the sector to the U.S. economy and the efficient, cost-effective movement of goods.

From large regional carriers such as LaserShip to small, family-run businesses, the courier industry plays a major role in the American economy, providing transportation of packages, medical supplies, bulk materials and documents. Its unique contribution to the delivery supply chain is the emphasis on just-in-time delivery of packages in less than 24 hours, based on customer demand. Approximately seven thousand courier companies make up this multi-billion dollar sector.

One of the reasons for the visit to Capitol Hill was to present and explain the Independent Contractor model that underpins this industry. The nature of the industry, with its unpredictable on-demand, often unscheduled deliveries, requires varying numbers of delivery personnel on any given day and time of day in order to be able to fulfill customer needs. This lack of consistency and predictability makes it impractical to hire as many full-time employee couriers as would be required to cover peak days. Staffing only with full-time employees would result in either a deficit or a surplus of drivers at any one time: making it impossible for companies to offer a cost-effective on-demand service.

Independent owner-operator drivers are a key component of the expedited delivery business as they enable flexible scheduling and ensure that companies can quickly scale up and down to meet demand. Industry surveys show that 99% of independent contractor drivers are professionals, proud of the job they do and the service they offer, knowledgeable about the area in which they deliver and often with specialist safety and TSA guideline knowledge too.

The MCAA is reaching out to lawmakers because the use of Independent Contractors has come under increasing scrutiny while at the same time there is a lack of clear and consistent regulatory guidance. Legislation introduced in the last Congress dismantles the current IC system and if it goes forward, has the potential to impact negatively the courier industry and, as a consequence, the tens of thousands of businesses across the U.S. that rely on the flexibility, the service and the cost-effectiveness that the current business model provides.

Said Fred Aryan, President of LaserShip Inc.:

“We are working with MCAA to introduce a bill that will enable the delivery industry to continue to provide cost-effective, time sensitive distribution services and preserve the livelihood of the thousands of independent contractors working in this sector.”

FedEx Announce Expansion of Express Services

FedEx Express announced this week that it is adding new services for customers – notably FedEx First Overnight Freight and FedEx 2Day AM. It will also be making further enhancements to FedEx First Overnight. The aim is to provide customers with faster, time-definite shipping options supported by a money-back guarantee. The new service offerings will be available starting February 28th 2011.

FedEx First Overnight Freight will provide early-morning delivery, with a 9am commitment in most markets, of critical air freight shipments. The service is targeting customers with time-sensitive critical deliveries who have palletized shipments weighing more than 151lbs.

FedEx 2Day AM is a new two-day service that will provide a 10:30am delivery commitment time in most areas of the US. The new service will also be available for return shipments.
There will also be an expansion of FedEx First Overnight to include most dangerous goods types including shipments inbound to the U.S. from Canada, Europe and Latin America. Additionally, the on-call pickup time for FedEx Express will be extended giving customer up to one additional hour at the end of the day to prepare shipments.

Said T. Michael Glenn, president and CEO, FedEx Corporate Services:

““FedEx Express continues to enhance its portfolio, adding new, relevant services to meet customer needs. Customer service is a top priority at FedEx and we are committed to providing an industry-leading suite of shipping options.”

While FedEx remains focused on overnight, for shippers who can’t wait until can’t wait until 9 or 1030 the next day and need same-day delivery, LaserShip offers a cost-effective service. Items large or small can transported across the country in just hours using LaserShip’s extensive world-wide network of expedited couriers and access to thousands of immediate flights daily. As experts in immediate expedited shipping, LaserShip supports just-in-time manufacturing logistics, critical parts replenishment and life science situations which might require an organ, blood, tissue or medical equipment to be in place for a 7am operation or a midnight emergency.

Diapers.com & Soap.com Ship with LaserShip

LaserShip is excited to be delivering for Diapers.com and Soap.com in Manhattan. Both are services of Quidsi – a five year old company founded by two entrepreneurs – Marc Lore and Vinit Bharara – and headquartered in Jersey City, NJ.

Diapers.com is the largest online baby care specialty site in the United States, offering everything moms and dads need for their babies, including diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, shampoo and strollers. Soap.com is the largest online specialty store for health, beauty, personal care and household essentials, offering more than 25,000 products – everything from paper towels and laundry detergent to toothpaste, vitamins, makeup, and shampoo – all shipped for free and overnight to most of the country. The company generated about $180 million in revenue in 2009 and expect to bring in about $300 million in 2010.

To meet the growing needs of their business, the company have built a 1,250,000 sq ft state-of-the-art warehouse in Goldsboro, PA which features 260 robots. Each robot weighs about 800 lbs and can lift 3,000 lbs of merchandise. Shipping boxes are automatically made at the warehouse and delivered to the pickers by the robots. Items are packed in one of 23 different sizes of box with the help of a software program that knows the dimensions of each ordered product and can fit them into the smallest possible box. Quidsi also operate warehouses in Reno, Nevada, and Kansas City, Missouri and are experimenting with local city storage of most-ordered items, so that a case of diapers might appear at the door within hours.

In September, Diapers.com announced same-day delivery in Manhattan and LaserShip is proud to be is the delivery partner making that happen! Said Josh Dinneen, LaserShip’s Director of Supply Chain Solutions:

We’re very excited about the opportunity to partner with Quidsi, the parent company for Diapers.com and Soap.com, as they launch same-day service in Manhattan. LaserShip’s experience in the market and scalability, along with Quidsi’s fast growth environment resulted in a partnership that provides a superior customer experience. We’re keeping up with their pace, adding automation and sophistication to our Manhattan facility. It’s an exciting opportunity to partner with the e-retail potential of Quidsi and LaserShip is also providing overnight delivery service, and with LaserShip’s East Coast reach, Manhattan is just the beginning.

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