I am co-Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting, and during our Annual Meeting, I facilitated a panel with Cindy Allen, VP Regulatory at Fed Ex Logistics, Alan McCorkle, President & CEO of Yusen Terminals, Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, Fran Inman, Sr. VP Majestic Realty and Former Transportation Commissioner of CA, and John Tulac, International Business Attorney about the state of supply chain. Thank you to the panel & Elizabeth Warren for helping make it a reality.
Expert Panel’s View of the Global Supply Chain
As Fran Inman always says, the supply chain is a system of systems. That is a good summary of the state of supply chain. For example, although the ports were largely able to catch up with incoming containers (handling more volume than ever before), the bubble has moved to rail. Intermodal congestion continues as warehouses are full, chassis shortages persist, staffing issues remain, and supply chain disruptions continue.
The system of systems is complex with many different companies and perspectives involved, trying to coordinate as one. Progress has been made in collaboration and coordination although several perils exist. High inventory levels of the “wrong” items (as consumers expectations change and evolve) are creating retail and supply chain issues. Inflation continues to persist even with lighter demand. And, more importantly, there are vast concerns about relying on China for essential goods, the future of trucking and energy, and the mismatch of energy needs vs. capabilities and policy.
Opportunities in the Supply Chain
A few of the common themes that arose during the discussion include the following:
- Energy: It was abundantly clear that we must get on top of our energy policy and infrastructure. It is not as simple as it is on the consumer side (drive a Tesla or add solar panels). Trucks require significantly more energy, and as much progress that has been made, there is much more to go. There are tight to impossible timelines with policy changes, electric grid and infrastructure issues, concerns about dependence on China for critical materials and more.
- Data & predictive analytics: Every panelist saw huge potential and opportunity in using the data available in the global supply chain. There is much to work through in terms of sharing data; however, it is a key priority.
- Technology & sharing of data: There are projects underway to share data among supply chain partners including ports, terminals, container ships, transportation partners, etc. Visibility is essential in the supply chain. There are also advancements being made in warehousing to automate, better support e-commerce needs, etc.
- Inland Port (Integrated Rail Complex): Exciting news from BNSF – they are building a new integrated rail complex in Barstow to increase supply chain efficiency nationwide
- Reshoring & Near-shoring: Companies are realizing they need more control over their supply chain and the US must get better control over the supply of medical products, products related to national security, and food.
The bottom line is you must take control of your supply chain. Get in touch with your partners and make sure you are set up to succeed no matter the environment.
Please keep us in the loop of your situation and how we can help your organization thrive during these times of volatility and disruption. There will be more winners created than at any other time than since emerging from the Great Depression. To gain additional ideas and insights on how to best navigate these volatile times and thrive, read our new eBook Thriving in 2022. Learning from Supply Chain Chaos. Download your complimentary copy.