About what the average crew costs per day are on a ocean container ship - costs that could be dramatically reduced if the concept of “drone cargo ships” gets traction. News was out this week that Rolls Royce is working on the idea, in conjunction with a Euro group that is actively researching unmanned ships, with hopes of a prototype late next year. The unmanned ships would not require a traditional bridge, and all the support systems needed for a crew, so they could fit more containers on a ship in addition to reducing staffing costs. But labor and other forces are already lining up against the concept. Ships would be managed/controlled by on-shore pilots with joy sticks and other tools.
The wage rate increase that unions representing Japanese manufacturing workers are requesting in 2014 – amazingly the first time they have proposed a wage increase since 2008. In general, manufacturing wages have fallen in Japan since the late 1990s, as a terrible deflation has ravaged the economy ever since. New Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is trying to change that condition, in part by easy money policies such as those used by the US Federal Reserve in recent years to add cash to the economy, drive down interest rates and lower the value of the yen to boost exports. Manufacturers such as Toshiba are actually supportive of the wage hikes, in hopes it will stimulate the economy there.
Number of hours in which Walmart's higher end Mexican grocery chain Superama can often deliver on-line grocery orders, according to reports this week. The program has been a big success, and Walmart intends to expand the service to many of its supercenter stores later this year. Customers are charged about $3.00US for the service, while Walmart pays contract drivers about $1.50 per delivery, after picking the orders in-store itself. About 20% of Superama's orders are now coming on-line, as it caters to Mexico's wealthier consumers. The majority of the grocery deliveries in Mexico come from supermarkets that are open to the public. But in the future, Wal-Mart de México plans to deploy more "dark stores" - former stores or other spaces used exclusively to fulfill online orders - as it does now in the UK.