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Nuvera Breaks Ground on Automated Fuel Cell Production Facility in China

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Nuvera Breaks Ground on Automated Fuel Cell Production Facility in China

Nuvera Fuel Cells, LLC, a provider of fuel cell power solutions for motive applications, is pleased to announce construction of a fuel cell stack production line in the Hangzhou district government of Fuyang, China. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Dec. 17, 2019 attended by Lucien Robroek, CEO and Jon Taylor, President of Nuvera, along with Fuyang government officials.

In December 2018, Nuvera signed a cooperation agreement with the Fuyang government, located in Zhejiang province, to enable the local manufacture of Nuvera® fuel cell stacks. The agreement provided incentives to Nuvera for the establishment of its production facility. The fuel cells will power zero-emissions, heavy-duty vehicles such as delivery vans and transit buses.

“China is leading the world in the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles, and we are excited to be at ground zero of this transformation,” said Lucien Robroek. “The new manufacturing site establishes Nuvera as a major fuel cell provider both in China and in the entire Asian region.”

The combined market for fuel cell forklifts, passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles in China is expected to reach nearly 50,000 units per year in 2025 and 400,000 units per year by 2030, according to information provided by customers in China. The Nuvera site incorporates equipment for the automated manufacture of up to 5,000 fuel cell stacks per year for vehicle applications. Additional capacity can be added as demand requires.



Nuvera Fuel Cells, LLC is a manufacturer of heavy-duty, zero-emission engines for mobility applications. With facilities located in the U.S. and Europe, Nuvera provides clean, safe, and efficient products designed to meet the rigorous needs of industrial vehicles and other transportation markets.

Nuvera is a subsidiary of Hyster-Yale Group, Inc., which designs, engineers, manufactures, sells, and services a comprehensive line of lift trucks and aftermarket parts marketed globally primarily under the Hyster® and Yale® brand names. Hyster-Yale Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. (NYSE:HY). Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, Inc. and its subsidiaries, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, employ approximately 7,800 people worldwide.

Kenco’s Jane Kennedy Greene Defines Exemplary Leadership

When thinking of logistics leaders, some might not automatically think of the female representation and the impact on the logistics and supply chain sector as a whole. Global Trade  aims to recognize female leaders in the industry who continue making substantial impacts and change the way females in the industry are perceived. Jane Kennedy Greene is a great example.
Kenco’s 60+-year story starts with humble beginnings as a stand-alone warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fast forward to today, and Kenco serves as a leader in third-party logistics. Jane Kennedy Greene, current chairwoman of the board, former CEO and daughter of co-founder, Jim Kennedy Jr., is no stranger to the success Kenco prides itself in. Following her appointment to CEO in 2012, the company was deemed the largest woman-owned 3PL in the U.S and received the Women’s Business Enterprise certification by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
The company is known for its close family ties and dedication to heritage. In a blog titled “Making A Company A Family,” Kennedy Greene writes, “Being cognizant of how our associates are being taken care of was a weekly, if not a daily, concern of my father’s. This dedication to our associates has made us more than a company; I feel it has made us a family.”

Women in Logistics: Wendy Buxton, President of LynnCo.

In 2002, Wendy Buxton began her career as the chief information officer for LynnCo Supply Chain Solutions, moving her way up to her current position as president following the successful development of a web-hosted software package. Additionally, Buxton has been recognized for her leadership and expertise in the logistics sector through awards such as the Women of Distinction and Top 10 Women in Logistics.


Wendy Buxton serves as a prime example that regardless of one’s gender, factors such as talent, intelligence, and determination are what can make or break a career. Buxton boasts active membership with women-centered organizations such as the National Executive Women’s Association and Tulsa Executive Women’s Forum.

“We strive to provide a supply chain management solution that is innovative and enables our clients competitive market positioning through a network that has been engineered and optimized by our team of consultants and operational experts,” she said in regards to LynnCo making an online magazine’s list of Top 10 Most Innovative Supply Chain Management Solution Providers. “We are honored to receive a Top 10 award from Insights Success.”

Schneider Transportation Increases Visibility with Trucker Tools

Trucker Tools’ carrier management and shipment tracking software services has been officially selected by Schneider Transportation Management to provide additional support one of the industry’s largest freight brokerage operations.

The company will implement Load Track and Smart Capacity – two of Trucker Tool’s cloud-based software applications to support and improve operational processes while providing increased visibility to its carriers.

“We are growing our capabilities with Trucker Tools to deliver a better experience for carriers and easier access to the high-quality loads they expect from Schneider,” said Erin Van Zeeland, Schneider’s senior vice president and general manager of Logistics Services. “With Load Track, our carriers have an easy-to-use platform for delivering quality information on the progress and status of loads in transit as well as visibility to available loads.

“This allows us to more efficiently connect the right loads with the right carriers while enhancing the visibility shippers want. Trucker Tools is also a big selling point, especially with the small and micro-carriers, because of the popularity of its mobile app,” Van Zeeland added.

Additionally, the company announced the implementation of a predictive freight-matching tool for brokers called the Smart Capacity platform.

“We are honored to be selected by one of America’s most respected transportation companies to help them drive further efficiencies and quality improvements into its brokerage operations,” said Prasad Gollapalli,” founder and CEO of Trucker Tools. “Our goal is to enable our broker customers to leverage next-generation technology to improve their competitiveness and increase their ‘stickiness’ with carriers. Through Smart Capacity, Load Track and our mobile driver app, we’re giving them unprecedented, trusted visibility into where and when those trucks are available – today, tomorrow and into next week.”


Source: Trucker Tools 

The stronger dollar impacts lelvel of shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

U.S. Dollar Surges, EXIM Bank Remains in Limbo

This should be a time of financial uncertainty and speculation, as a new president-elect’s fiscal promises and policies are put under a microscope, and the Federal Reserve considers how their implementation and success would impact GDP growth, investments, and monetary conditions.

But the dollar seems bullish on Donald Trump, and the ramifications of that are already being felt a month before the President-elect takes the oath of office.

The U.S. dollar hasn’t been as high as it is now since 2002, and the recent interest-rate increase should make it even stronger.

For Americans that have been putting off that trip to Europe, now is the time, as dollars that once exchanged at a near 2:1 rate with euros have now pulled almost even.

But while American consumers will find lower prices on imported items, U.S. exports will become less competitive abroad.

And in emerging markets, where trillions in loans are made in dollars, those debts will now be harder to pay back.

The impact is also being felt on foreign currencies besides the euro, from Japan to Brazil, and Turkey to India. Higher interest rates by central banks in at least some of these markets are likely to follow.

Americans without a deep financial stake in global markets may wonder if a strong U.S. dollar, which certainly sounds like a good thing, is something worth celebrating, especially given some negative media stories about its surge. The stock market seems unfazed, reporting a series of record highs despite the possibility that a stronger dollar will curb a recovery on corporate profits.

But exports figure to be the biggest potential crisis, with costs impacted on U.S. goods from steel to cattle.

Observers are also taking into account a Trump administration’s position on the Export-Import Bank, which can be a potential boon for exporters if it can ever return to the scope of business it authorized in the past.

Although EXIM was reauthorized by Congress earlier this year, its ability to approve larger deals has been hamstrung by the lack of a quorum on its board as President Obama’s appointment has not been taken up by lawmakers.

The President-elect has yet to make a public comment about the bank, which tends to redraw traditional battle lines in Washington. Among Republicans it has as many detractors and supporters, while Democrats are mostly in favor of a robust EXIM presence.

Trump, who is not a typical Republican by any standard, wants to boost the competitiveness of U.S. exports and create more jobs, both of which can be partly achieved if the bank can start making large loans again. But Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at aerospace industry consultancy Teal Group, has told CNBC that he believes Trump “won’t go to bat for it.”

If the President-elect is not persuaded by the potential market benefits, he may be intrigued by the opportunity to reshape the bank in his own image. It’s dormancy has been forced by having only two board members, when three are required to approve loans of more than $10 million. If Trump can fill those positions with like-minded dealmakers, he may be more enthusiastic about its revival. Any nominees he puts forth, however, will have to be approved by Congress.

Appointment of Branstad as ambassador to China signals a continued flow of shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade between China and the US, as opposed to a trade war.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad Named Ambassador to China

One of the most consistent messages sent by Donald Trump during the presidential campaign was directed at China—and it wasn’t positive. He accused them of unfair trade deals, currency manipulation and dumping products on global markets. That was going to stop if he became the new sheriff in town.

But as our outgoing president once remarked, elections have consequences. And one of the consequences of the November outcome has been a softening of Trump’s positions on several issues, which has disappointed his more ardent supporters but relieved some of his detractors.

That attitude adjustment appears to apply to China as well, with Trump’s appointment of Iowa governor Terry Branstad as ambassador.

It’s a decision that signals a preference for friendlier U.S.-China relations, especially in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial phone conversation with Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen. The previous expressions of concern out of Beijing were followed by a much more positive reaction to Branstad, who has known Chinese President Xi for more than 25 years.

In 1985, while serving his first term as governor of Iowa, Branstad hosted a Chinese delegation that included the future President of China. During that trip he bypassed a hotel suite and instead stayed in the spare bedroom of a family in the town of Muscatine. It was his first visit to America, and left such a favorable impression that, as Vice-President, Xi Jinping returned to Iowa in 2012.

Doing Business With Friends

Branstand has frequently referred to President Xi as “an old friend,” and that likely played a role in Iowa being a preferred provider of corn and pork to China. A positive personal relationship should help to avert the trade war many anticipated after Trump’s victory.

But the issues between the two nations remain, beginning with the trade imbalance that finds the U.S. importing four times as many goods from China as it exports, despite the popularity of a wide range of American products (from Chevy trucks to Victoria’s Secret lingerie) among the growing Chinese middle class.

By 2020 China’s consumer market will reach or surpass $6.5 trillion according to the Boston Consulting Group. Companies like Macy’s, Costco, and Target are eager to gain greater access to that burgeoning market.

And then there are the bigger deals: travel, at a time when China is expected to add more than 6,800 aircraft over the next 20 years, and agriculture, impacting both farming equipment and commodities like soybeans.

On the campaign trail Trump threatened a tariff as high as 45 percent on Chinese exports to force a change in policy. But government officials and diplomats that know China well believe threats are the wrong approach, and certainly won’t help Boeing build planes or Caterpillar build tractors bound for Beijing.

The appointment of Branstad signals a less confrontational opening salvo that indicates a policy of negotiation, not ultimatums. China’s barriers to U.S. exports have been gradually reduced since China’s 2005 entry into the World Trade Organization. It hasn’t been fast enough for American manufacturers, but markets are opening.

High Hopes in Agriculture

Given Branstad’s Iowa roots, agriculture figures to be a priority. The state is already China’s third-largest export market, with total exports of $1.2 billion in 2015.

If the new ambassador can ease lingering tariffs and exclusions on certain agricultural products, enacted after trade disputes dating back decades, that alone would represent a significant new opportunity to reduce the deficit without punitive tariffs. China would get quality products, and Trump would get the “better deal” he campaigned on.

“He’s going to focus on ways parties can negotiate and reach a deal that benefits each side,” said Mike Ralston, president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. “I believe that’s really good for Iowa and the United States to have somebody in this role who is focused on economic development, on job creation and conducting business with each other.”

New transportation secretary will oversee infrastructure spending that will impact handling of shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Elaine Chao Earns Praise from Transportation, Logistics Lobbies

While some of President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet choices have been greeted with skepticism, the selection of Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation has received near universal support – including from those within the industries most directly impacted by her appointment.

The question is whether Chao and Trump will be able to work with Congress to pass the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that was one of the Republican candidate’s most oft-repeated campaign promises. At least she starts with one vote in her favor: Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Praise from Land, Sea and Air

At a time of uncertainty in the trucking business, industry leaders greeted the news with optimism.

“I had the privilege of serving with and working closely with Secretary Chao during my time at the Department of Labor, and I am extremely pleased that she will be taking on this new challenge,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association. “President-elect Trump could not have picked a more qualified, experienced and dedicated individual to serve in this important role.”

Both Daimler Trucks North America and Navistar International Corp. released statements lauding the nomination. And Jim Meil, analyst for the trucking industry research firm ACT Research, described Chao as “a seasoned, experienced veteran of the Washington scene with an impressive track record of public service. Her prior experience means she is well-versed on critical issues for the trucking industry such as infrastructure, regulation, safety, the environment and labor.”

These sentiments were echoed by the American Maritime Partnership: “With vast experience across the maritime industry and prior service at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, and Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), Secretary Chao understands the critical role our industry plays in advancing the nation’s economic and national security.”

Air cargo is happy too, according to the industry trade organization Airlines for America. “Elaine Chao is an outstanding pick to be the next Secretary of Transportation,”A4A said in a statement, while also getting a head start on suggesting items for her to-do list.

“We look forward to working with her, and the Department of Transportation under her leadership, to usher in a new era of innovation, smarter regulation, and transformational reforms to modernize our nation’s antiquated ATC system that will ensure our infrastructure in the sky is ready to meet the demand on the ground,” reads an A4A statement.

Now, Get to Work

As indicated by Airlines for America, such industry praise also comes with high expectations.

Start with that infrastructure bill, which everyone seems to like but no one seems to agree on how it’s going to be funded.

Ten years and $1 trillion are nice round numbers, and there is clear consensus that something needs to be done now to fix the nation’s roads, bridges, transit networks, airports, water and sewage systems, and electrical grids. But analysts from both parties have questioned President-elect Trump’s plan to pay for the measure largely through private investment, in exchange for tax credits.

“In certain parts of the country, those kinds of private financing work,” said Ed Mortimer, infrastructure director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “In other parts of the country we need to use general funding.”

Another expectation of the new administration is a rollback of the thousands of pages of new government regulations instituted over the last eight years under President Obama.

Many of these regulations “hinder small-business truckers and undermine overall transportation efficiency,” according to Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. The organization is particularly concerned about an Obama-proposed rule that would require the installation of a device on heavy-duty trucks that limits their top speed.

Speaking of trucks, what about all those new ones that drive themselves? President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal includes nearly $4 billion over 10 years for pilot programs testing connected vehicle systems.

When Chao offers answers to such questions it will provide some indication on how she will lead the department.

Unlike most of Trump’s other cabinet appointments, Chao held a previous cabinet-level position as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Labor. Based on her tenure, it’s reasonable to expect a more pro-business outlook weighted toward the concerns of management than labor. Chao opposed a raise in the minimum wage and championed several proposals described by the Teamsters as anti-union, including changes in union financial disclosure regulations that made them more transparent.

Keeping carrier in the US will reduce shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Trump’s Carrier Deal: Positive or Dangerous Precedent?

It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans on the campaign trail attacked Democrats for destructive interference in the private sector. They cited President Obama’s support for the Solyndra Corporation as an example of the government picking winners and loser—and not doing it particularly well.

In recent days, many of those same Republicans have praised President-elect Donald Trump for reaching an agreement with United Technologies to keep 730 Carrier Corporation jobs in the U.S., after the company announced plans to move its Indiana manufacturing operations to Mexico.

It seems everyone has an opinion on the deal that has been described as a godsend and a swindle. Not surprisingly, long-time Trump supporters are ecstatic about a bold effort to put America first by a man who hasn’t even been sworn in yet; while those in the #notmypresident camp are questioning everything from the number of jobs saved to the future ramifications.

However, this is one case where party lines don’t tell the whole story. House Democrat Adam Schiff of California called the Carrier deal the smartest thing Trump has ever done. Sarah Palin, one of the candidate’s earliest and most ardent supporters, described it as the kind of crony capitalism that Republicans traditionally oppose.

But voters like it—and, as everyone was reminded in November, theirs is the voice that matters. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, six out of 10 voters now see Trump in a more positive light. It was well received by a surprising four out of 10 Democrats surveyed, and about one-third of Hillary Clinton voters.

The President-elect’s popularity is at 50 percent according to Bloomberg, up from 37 percent at the time of the election. Certainly at least some of this can be attributed to the Carrier deal.

A New Normal?

Carrier is just one of thousands of U.S. manufacturing businesses, and the jobs saved are a minuscule percentage of tens of millions. If this were an isolated incident it could be viewed as a feel-good story and nothing more. But Trump seems to have other ideas, and no one will be surprised if he takes direct action again the next time a company threatens to move to foreign shores.

He still has a majority of voters with him; that same Politico/Morning Call survey found that more than half of respondents see nothing wrong with such direct negotiations with private business on a case-by-case basis, and in the offering of tax breaks or other incentives to keep jobs here.

What is not known is how many other companies will seek similar concessions. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stated that United Technologies “took Trump hostage and won.”

Other Democrats were equally dubious, but there was non-partisan concern as well. Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, released a statement warning that the U.S. “can’t just lurch from deal to deal,” and that the Trump administration must “go beyond individual deals and focus on creating an overall economic ecosystem that incentivizes these companies to call the United States home.”

However, Republicans liken the Carrier negotiations to those that happen all the time among state politicians and economic development agencies, as they attempt to lure companies out of states with high tax rates to more favorable locations. That’s how Florida Governor Rick Scott convinced rental car giant Hertz Corp. to move its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Estero, Florida.

It’s also nothing new for Indiana, which under the leadership of Vice President-elect Mike Pence prided itself on offering targeted tax reductions to attract companies from neighboring Illinois and Ohio. As a result, manufacturing in Indiana has increased 20 percent since 2009.

So was it crony capitalism and overreach, or classic supply-side economics, where tax cuts result in higher tax revenues?

Time will tell whether Trump’s approach to Carrier is sustainable—but if as president he is successful as reducing corporate tax rates, health care costs, and federal regulations, perhaps such deals will no longer be necessary.

The Arctic will be seeing more traffic of shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

Cashing in on Climate Change

In December, kids envision Santa Claus loading his sleigh at the North Pole, ready to deliver toys on Christmas Eve.

This year, and in years to come, he may notice some extra traffic in the Arctic, as more countries and companies utilize the ultimate northern shipping route.

It was a trend that first peaked back in 2013, when more than 70 ships sailed through the Northeast Passage across the top of Russia and Siberia. One of the route’s greatest appeals is that it takes about 10 to 14 fewer days to get from Asia to Europe this way than through the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal.

But that number quickly declined to just 18 vessels in 2015 due to lower oil prices and higher insurance costs. The closing of Canada’s only Arctic port also made sailing near the top of the world less advantageous.

However, judging from preparations now underway in Russia, China, Canada, and the United States, business is about to pick up once again.

Two months ago, at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland, there was much shared enthusiasm for returning to the Northeast Passage. Despite the prospect of weather delays and visibility issues, the benefits of significant time and cost savings are too inviting to ignore.

China, not an Arctic nation, is already in the process of building ships for the journey, as well as icebreakers and ports.

“As the climate becomes warmer and polar ice melts faster, the Northeast Passage has appeared as a new trunk route connecting Asia and Europe,” said Ding Nong, executive vice president of the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO). “COSCO Shipping is optimistic about the future of the Northern Sea Route and Arctic shipping.”

In Russia, which already has eleven Arctic ports, construction is now underway on new shipping facilities, including a liquid natural gas port at Sabetta. The country’s State Commission on Development of the Arctic Regions has plans to establish a single company to oversee all future logistical operations.

Closer to home, Senator Angus King, an Independent from Maine, is spearheading plans to turn the city of Portland into an Arctic hub.

Thank You, Global Warming

Climate change has been blamed (or credited) for making this nautical shortcut more desirable. Lower ice buildup in the Northeast Passage along Russia’s northern border allows for passage from late summer through early fall. That’s a short season, but global warming has added a few weeks of additional access.

And that’s just one route. There are others, which is not surprising as explorers have been searching for Northwest and Northeast Passages since the 1400s. Norwegian Roald Amundsen is credited with the first successful transit of the Northwest Passage in 1906, though it took him three years to make the trip.

The Northeast Passage, also known as the Northern Sea Route (NSR) holds the most potential – it was used regularly by Russia as far back as the 1940s, as a military supply conduit during World War II. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 6.5 million tons of cargo traversed the passage, with no traffic to avoid since foreign ships were not granted access.

The Northwest Passage, by contrast, has not been as developed, in part because of the navigational hazards of Canada’s Arctic archipelago, which is comprised of 36,000 islands, islets, and rocks. However, in 2013 one Danish carrier shipped 15,000 metric tons of coal from Vancouver to Finland this way, saving four days of transit time and $200,000. China is already taking a closer look.

Another option is a Transpolar Route that takes ships directly across the North Pole. It’s gaining interest because it would allow ships to avoid passage rights fees charged by Russia for use of the Northeast Passage, since that part of the Arctic doesn’t belong to anyone (unless you still believe in Santa).

Environmental Concerns

Ironically, for a route made possible in part by the environment-altering impact of fossil fuels, more than 65 percent of the cargo transported through the Arctic is oil. On the other hand, use of the northern routes reduce the fossil fuels that would otherwise be burned by vessels on alternative routes.

The prospect of seeing greater numbers of cargo vessels in the Arctic has scientists and environmentalists concerned for the future of the region. Alaska is still recovering from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, and there are even fewer resources in the Arctic to handle not just cleanup but search and rescue.

What impact will more Arctic traffic have on polar bears and other marine mammals? Will the black carbon emitted by ships further accelerate sea ice retreat? These are just some of the questions now being debated by public and private sector entities worldwide.

The Canadian government recently issued an Ocean Protection Plan that will include Arctic marine installations to support safer unloading of resupply, real-time information on marine shipping activities, a new chapter of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a seasonal in-shore rescue boat station in the Arctic, and as many as eight vessels for incident response.

The International Maritime Organization has called for a phase out of heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic to reduce black carbon emissions. The Polar Code, an international framework drafted to provide a code of safety for ships in polar waters, will be officially adopted on January 1, 2017. And in 2019 the United Nations will launch a three-year project to gather ship-level fuel use data that will likely result in stricter energy efficiency standards.

However, these potential impediments, along with those caused by weather, remoteness, substandard charting, spotty communications and WiFi, and the fact that it’s really, really cold, have not cooled enthusiasm for heading north. According to World Maritime News, vessel traffic in the Canadian Arctic will double from 2010 to 2020, and double again in the next decade.

The fourth industrial revoliiution is having an impact on deliveries of shipments of export cargo and import cargo in international trade.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Benefits and Challenges

Many of us learned about the Industrial Revolution back in high school. We had to memorize the names of a lot of inventors (Robert Fulton – was he the steamboat or the cotton gin?) and discuss the ramifications of factories taking precedence over farms, and how automation can simultaneously make life easier, and more challenging.

But much has changed since the 1800s, when water and steam power were first used to mechanize production. And it may surprise some to learn there were actually three industrial revolutions – and we’re now in the midst of a fourth.

Following the original that brought Fulton into our history books (and yes, if you guessed “steamboat” you were correct), the second was ushered in by the harnessing of electricity. The third, which began not that long ago, focused on information technology.

And the one some say we’re in now? It’s a revolution in which physical, digital and even biological technologies have been fused in a way that has transformed not only how we work but also how we live, play and communicate.

Everything is connected

The biggest difference between the current revolution and those that preceded it is how quickly its changes have been adopted on a global scale, and the impact they have had on every type of industry. Billions of people now have a phone in their pockets that provides instant conversation, negotiation, contract signing and transmission of funds with anyone anywhere in the world.

What does that mean for business and trade? It will take less time to do a lot of stuff, which is more efficient – and more efficient means more productive. It will cost less to send goods from one place to another, and for the sender and recipient to negotiate the deal. Logistics and global supply chains will both benefit as a result. And when the overall cost of trade drops, it opens up access to new participants and new markets, resulting in a rising tide of economic growth.

There isn’t a single aspect on the supply side that hasn’t been transformed, from research and development to marketing, sales and distribution. Many of these changes have been triggered by developments from the demand side, where more transparency and greater insight into consumer engagement have shaped the way products are made, sold and delivered.

Companies are being compelled to take a closer look at how they do business. Putting the customer first was always a good slogan but now it’s a necessity, as they have a world of goods to shop from and prices to compare instantly with the touch of a smartphone screen.

The downside

With this revolution, as in the past three, technology and automation now completes tasks that used to require a salaried employee.

In the long run, the employment market may shift toward better, safer jobs; but in the short term there will be fewer available positions between the executive boardroom and the minimum wage laborer.

That may be one reason why we saw the presidential election outcome that we did.

The only constant: change

There were likely people after each of the previous industrial revolutions that believed automation and technology has gone as far as it can go. But that’s probably not the case this time, given the rapidity with which new technology breakthroughs are occurring.

Just ten years ago we could not have envisioned the processing power and storage capacity of devices we now take for granted. 3-D printing and nanotechnology have segued from sci-fi to reality. Logistics companies are already looking into trucks that drive themselves. Heaven knows where artificial intelligence will one day take us—hopefully not into those dystopian futures so often portrayed in summertime movies.

The challenge, as it has been before, will be finding the right balance between human and technological resources. Our closer reliance on technology and the innovative ways in which it serves our business needs may, some fear, turn us into automatons—just one more wirelessly connected cog in the digital supply chain.