I’ve been receiving an increased number of calls lately about impacts from the ports – some referred potential clients trying to figure out how to survive through the port slowdown to client concerns about components and equipment expected to come through the port to impacts on inventory costs and customer service levels.  Although there hasn’t been a strike, the port slowdown has impacted countless manufacturers and distributors.

I heard so much about it that I called my colleague who is an expert at international freight to understand the latest thinking on the topic and whether there is anything you can do if you haven’t planned well all-along.  For example, I’ve heard of countless stories of folks being concerned about $5 fees by brokers who offer value-added service…..I wonder who is thinking $5 is relevant when it comes to handling this type of crisis?

He sent me this link with pictures of LOTS of freight waiting in limbo at the ports.  I also read an article that said that if the ports are down for 10 days, it could cost over $2 billion a day.  Not pocket change!

One tip to implement this week:
Whether you have supplies or products waiting at the port, I’d take this as an opportunity to be strategic in thinking about supply chain design.  Do you understand your supply chain and the likely risks?  Few do.  Gather your executive team and key supply chain leaders and discuss your supply chain design.  The first step is to understand your current setup, likely risks, challenges and inherent cost structure.

Although this comes to light with the recent events, it is always a good idea to understand your base (whether supply chain or any topic).  I’ve seen TOO many clients skip this critical step to waste many thousands if not millions in profit – and, worse yet, these are fundamental to customer service, lead times and growing your business.