WERC Delivers on Promise

The Warehousing Education and Research Council conference proved to be a fresh source of market intelligence for port authorities and supply chain managers

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When the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) staged its annual conference in Chicago last week, organizers promised to deliver some fresh perspectives on supply chain management. According to many who participated in the event, they did that much – and more.

“It is always interesting going to conferences pertaining to different aspects of the shipping business,” said Tim Van Wormer, Marine Planning and Development Manager for the Port of Portland. “It is easy to become focused on the aspect of the shipping business that you specialize in and lose track of the bigger consumer and distribution picture.”

Van Wormer, who gave a presentation on “U.S. Port Update: Investing in the Future,” added that he was intrigued with the progress that has been made on what he called “horizontal collaboration.”

“This is the ability to better utilize existing investments by sharing resources between companies,” he added. “Port collaboration has always been an area of interest of mine, and the progress that has been made with horizontal collaboration in logistics could serve as a model for the port industry.”

Co-panelist, Russell Held, Director of Economic Development for The Port of Virginia, said the WERC conference also provided him with new market intelligence.

“We discovered, for example, that shippers may be carrying a little more inventory this spring in anticipation of labor disruptions on the West Coast,” he said. “We also see the trend for near-shoring gaining traction, and a great focus on ocean carrier reliability.”

Like most port authorities, Virginia is paying closer attention to the direct demands being made by “Beneficial Cargo Owners.”

“The carriers pay our bills, but we have to make sure they are serving the end-user,” added Held.

Paul Rasmussen, U.S. trade expert and CEO of Zepol, shared his insights on the nation’s “Top 30” ocean cargo gateways, noting that ocean carrier consolidation and new trade agreements would soon reshape the deployment schedules. Bob Trebilcock, editorial director for Supply Chain Management Review, served as panel moderator.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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