In a sign of its commitment to hydrogen fuel cell lift trucks, Amazon last week announced that it has started producing its own hydrogen at one of its fulfillment centers. Amazon says it has worked with Plug Power – a company that markets a variety of hydrogen-related products – to install its first electrolyzer, a system that splits water molecules to produce hydrogen, at a fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado. Plug Power also sells what it calls hydrogen engines that can fit into existing electric fork trucks. The Amazon announcement says the electrolyzer is supporting the needs of about 225 fork lift trucks deployed at the facility, though it actually has the capacity to power as many as 400 hydrogen fuel cell-based lift trucks. This is the first time Amazon has tried to make its own hydrogen on site. The alternative is to have hydrogen trucked into a facility, as has been the case at Amazon until now.

The National Transportation Institute (NTI) recently released Q4 2023 driver pay data that shows driver earnings continue to climb in spite of the freight market undergoing a correction. Drivers’ base mileage pay brackets saw a shift, with the 40-to-50-cents-per-mile pay bracket falling 5.2 percent year over year as fleets raised wages to attract and retain drivers. The 50-to-60-cents-per-mile bracket saw a 6.1 percent y/y increase. Fleet wage growth also saw changes with cap pay. The report noted, “From 2020’s Q4 to 2022 Q4, drivers with 1 year and 3 years of experience saw the biggest per-mile wage gains. Since late 2022, however, the trend shifted. Cap earners, those with the most experience and highest base pay have seen the biggest percentage wage gains through 2023.” The report adds that new drivers to the industry with one year of experience are now earning more per mile in Q4 2023 than drivers in 2020 who had the most experience and base pay.

Americans are estimated to buy more than $5 trillion of goods this year, making the retail sector a crucial piece of the economy. Yet shoppers last year returned 16.5 percent of items they purchased online and in stores, valued at nearly $817 billion and double the percentage of goods returned in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. For many retailers, that is a major problem, and will take over much of their attention after the holidays trigger a costly returns hangover. The returns eat into profit margins and force merchants focused so tightly on selling toasters, sweaters, washing machines and the other mainstays of store showrooms to cope with the unwieldy and unpredictable flow of goods coming back.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Barbie World by Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice.

The post This Month in Logistics News (December 30 – January 5) appeared first on Logistics Viewpoints.