A post Labor Day look at logistics
September 04, 2012
An election awaits us, political promises are being made and the calendar turns to September. That is one way to surmise the post-Labor Day landscape as we shake the long weekend cobwebs out of our heads and come back to our desks rested and refreshed, of course.
It is not an understatement to say that the homestretch of 2012 could very well be one to remember for the logistics landscape for a variety of reasons. That said, I thought it might be a good idea to see where things stand for us supply chain- and logistics-thinking types of people:
-The Presidential election looks pretty even at this point, depending on what polls you look at and what day it is—no surprises there, really. If you are looking for a prediction, you have come to the wrong place;
-Freight transportation volumes are flat to mildly up or down. If you remove intermodal’s potential record breaking year in 2012 (it is looking good at the moment), there might be cause for depression, considering that trucking volumes are mostly flat, air cargo is way south of flat, and ocean carriers are still dealing with the harmful effects of overcapacity and do not appear to be in a meaningful rush to change that;
-Regulations are and continue to be a “theme du jour,” given the recent changes announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding CSA, and the expected mid-2013 changes to motor carriers Hours-of-Service, among others;
-the ongoing “buzz” (with good reason) regarding natural gas as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. While this is still in the early innings—or spring training, really—in terms of its development and utilization, it is on nearly everyone’s radar for good reason. We have covered a lot about natural gas and its role in freight transportation and expect that will continue to be the case, no doubt;
-next steps for transportation infrastructure development as Congress “figures out” how to generate capital for badly-needed projects as the Highway Trust Fund remains mired in the red; and
-the economy—there is plenty to be concerned about here i.e. sluggish GDP and job growth numbers, lower-than-expected retail sales numbers, and a slowdown in domestic manufacturing output in recent months to name a few.
There is a long way to go to get out of our now five-year economic funk, which has had several stops and starts and is nowhere close to where we need to get to or where we have been for that matter.
Well, I hope I have not thoroughly bummed out anyone; that was not my intention. I am just taking stock of some of the things we are dealing with in the supply chain and logistics worlds we live in. Please continue to stay educated on these issues—and many others—in the print pages of Logistics Management and on this Web site, too.
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