Chaos reigns in the logistics landscape

Looking at the logistics landscape, it appears that September should be very telling on a number of fronts in terms of how the fourth quarter and beyond may shape up, coupled with numerous legislative efforts on the table (or not, given the current political climate).

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As the calendar is set to turn to September, I am amazed, once again, at how quickly summer has gone. I should not be surprised as this is the case every year but still.

Looking at the logistics landscape, it appears that September should be very telling on a number of fronts in terms of how the fourth quarter and beyond may shape up, coupled with numerous legislative efforts on the table (or not, given the current political climate).

A few things to keep top of mind in the coming weeks and months and beyond include:

  • the expiring gasoline tax on September 30;

  • the expiration of the most recent SAFETEA-LU extension, also on September 30;

  • the next steps in the Hours-of-Service and Electronic Onboard Recorder sagas;

  • oil and diesel prices and the next steps regarding natural gas and its potential impact on freight transportation, specifically trucking;

  • the upcoming Peak Season…is it happening? If so, when?;

  • retail sales growth and consumer confidence trends;

  • increasing intermodal momentum (nothing new there really—it continues to gain steam);

  • the situation regarding the financial travails of the United States Postal Service and YRC Worldwide—the former seems mired in a difficult situation, while the latter is showing decent signs of emerging from the abyss; and

  • the constant focus on GDP growth and economic recovery.

Now, these are just a few of many things to keep an eye on and monitor, but it is merely a start.

There are also things like manufacturing growth, imports and exports, and mode-specific items, too. The list is long and getting longer all the time.

But that should not scare anyone, it is what it is. These are hectic—and often confusing— times we are in. If things are not chaotic enough for you now, just wait until the 2012 Presidential Race truly begins in earnest.

When it comes to the 2012 election, one can only hope Congress gets into gear and truly gets some meaningful work done, especially when it comes to things that will aid the growth of commerce and goods movement, before it becomes “all election, all the time” and everything else falls by the wayside.

Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But I prefer to be an optimist. Things are confusing and much work needs to be done all around. Let’s hope a year from now that we have seen progress and improvement on at least some of things I previously mentioned.

Until then, be prepared for more chaos, I guess.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Not Your Grandfather's Intermodal
Transportation of freight in containers was first recorded around 1780 to move coal along England’s Bridgewater Canal. However, "modern" intermodal rail service by a major U.S. railroad only dates back to 1936. Malcom McLean’s Sea-Land Service significantly advanced intermodalism, showing how freight could be loaded into a “container” and moved by two or more modes economically and conveniently. As with all new technologies, there were problems that slowed the growth, which influenced many potential customers to shy away from moving intermodal.
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