LM    Topics 

As time goes on, so do supply chain and logistics challenges and issues

In a morbid sense on this gloomy, windy Monday in southern Maine, the current state of the supply chain and logistics sectors, at times, reminds me of the 1980s Kevin Costner thriller “No Way Out.” To be clear, that does not mean our sectors are full of espionage, state secrets, and secret identities, but, at the same, time, given the ongoing pandemic-driven supply chain “chaos,” for lack of a better word (again, it is Monday) seems to fit the bill.

But what it does mean is that while much progress has been made, going back to the onset of the pandemic, there are so many hurdles that still need to be cleared.

As for the hurdles, there are, or remain, more than a few, in the form of—and in no particular order—the following: port congestion and related container backlogs; the ongoing need for more truck drivers to up over-the-road motor carrier capacity; inflation; and the labor outlook i.e. the need for more workers in order to increase throughput and production, among many others, too.

In terms of what could be viewed as a major issue on the immediate front, a front-page New York Times today came with this headline: “Supply Chain Woes Could Worsen as China Imposes New Covid Lockdowns.”

In a sense, that is certain to register very high on our collective supply chain and logistics radar, no question. In short, the article explains that “companies are bracing for another round of potentially debilitating supply chain disruptions as China, home to about a third of global manufacturing, imposes sweeping lockdowns in an attempt to keep the Omicron variant at bay.”

Given that just about every supply chain and logistics stakeholder has been forced to reexamine their collective approaches towards supply chain and logistics operations and related processes, coupled with just exiting what, in many respects, can be viewed as a successful holiday shipping season, the timing of this development is unfortunate. But when would the timing of something like this ever really be viewed as fortunate?

What’s more, this situation, once again, serves as a potential jumping off point for North American shippers, manufacturers, and logistics services providers to again take a hard look at bringing sourcing and manufacturing operations closer to home, in order to help mitigate these types of situations.

This is not to say it would act as a panacea, of sorts; it won’t. But it certainly could help and would not hurt either. We are fully aware of the United States’ import-export imbalance, which has been the case for several years. Instead of tariff implementation and contentious relationships with China, has the time finally come for nearshoring to get a seat at the table? In fact, it could be viewed as a seat at the same table where supply chain and logistics ostensibly finally have been granted admittance, due to the heightened mainstream supply chain and logistics relevance or awakening, of sorts.

That is not meant to be glib, just an observation is all. While we have lived in this Covid-19 world for nearly two years now (wow), the importance of the supply chain and logistics remains in the forefront of our economic health on so many levels. It did before pandemic arrived, too, but now is getting long overdue attention, which has been addressed in this space before.

There is always going to be another issue or another challenge. That is something which may be truer in our sectors than in any other, to be sure. Taking things one day at a time, with a close eye on the future, and also learning from the past is a key part of any supply chain playbook. Let’s see how things go from here.

Article Topics

Supply Chains
   All topics

Latest in Logistics

FTR Shippers Conditions Index remains on a growth track despite sequential decline
Descartes acquires Melbourne-based Localz as part of final-mile expansion
Trinet’s Managed Services: Streamlining Logistics Operations for Enhanced Efficiency
LM Podcast Series: Examining the global trade market with Chris Rogers, Head of Supply Chain Research for S&P Global Market Intelligence
U.S. rail carload and intermodal volumes are down, for week ending May 20, reports AAR
New FedEx offering aids U.S. customers with emissions-tracking efforts
Teamsters union overwhelmingly OKs strike vote against ArcBest LTL unit
More Logistics

About the Author

Jeff Berman's avatar
Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review and is a contributor to Robotics 24/7. 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.
Follow Modern Materials Handling on FaceBook

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine

Subscribe today!
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
Subscribe today. It's FREE.
Find out what the world's most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today.

May 2023 Logistics Management

May 8, 2023 · Here are some of the top digital supply chain trends that shippers need to understand and leverage as they continue along the path of transformation.

Latest Resources

Your Road Guide to Worry-Free Shipping Between the U.S. and Canada
Your Road Guide to Worry-Free Shipping Between the U.S. and Canada
Get expert guidance and best practices to help you navigate the cross-border shipping process with ease. Download our free white paper today!
Warehouse/DC Automation & Technology: It’s “go time” for investment
Warehouse/DC Automation & Technology: It’s “go time” for investment
In our latest Special Digital Issue, Logistics Management has curated several feature stories that neatly encapsulate the rise of automated systems and...

Why accurate, real-time location data is a must for efficient operations
Why accurate, real-time location data is a must for efficient operations
Find out how next-generation workforce management apps use accurate, real-time location data to power successful operations in this webinar with Radar CEO...
Should you lease or buy your lift truck fleet?
Should you lease or buy your lift truck fleet?
Leasing critical equipment like lift trucks can offer flexibility, but some lease terms can be complex and costly if you’re not...
2023 State of the Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Industry Report
2023 State of the Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Industry Report
In this year’s Third-Party Logistics State of the Industry Report, you’ll learn about our top trends for the year and...