During the past few years, the term “last mile” has become an ingrained part of the supply chain vocabulary. Referring to the last leg of transportation from distribution point to user, it has become increasingly important as service demands have increased.
The beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Tiger on February 1 may have gone largely unnoticed, but it is beginning to look as if this Tiger year will bring some significant challenges and opportunities to the supply chain manager.
Several years ago, I wrote that the four major impacts on the supply chain during my career were deregulation of transportation, technology, globalization, and Walmart. Recently, a colleague asked me if I was ready to add a fifth, which of course would be Amazon.
As we wrote in our last blog, the weaknesses in the current supply chain have been attributed to several factors, one of which is the ongoing shortage of long-haul truck drivers. This is not a new issue. The glory days of Smokey and the Bandit and CB radios are long gone, and driver shortages have been a continuing concern since the 1980s.
Unless you have been residing on Mars for the past couple of years, you are well aware that the U.S. supply chain is in crisis mode. Fifteen years ago, the term supply chain was not a part of many of our vocabularies. Today, the term is being used by every journalist, TV personality, and news commentator, as well as average Americans that are frustrated with empty shelves, late deliveries, and/or no deliveries at all.
On November 5, the House of Representatives passed the long-awaited and long-overdue $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (HR3684). This legislation which was approved by the Senate in August is now on its way to President Biden for signature. It is the largest public works bill since President Eisenhower created the current interstate system in 1956.
Although many outsourcing firms are becoming increasingly dependent on logistics service providers (LSP) to initiate innovations and logistics solutions, too many are still attempting to commoditize LSP services, concentrating primarily on price.
Every fall for the past 26 years, Dr. John Langley of Penn State has published the annual Third-Party Logistics Study. I have followed this report since the very beginning, and have always found it to be a comprehensive analysis of current relationships between Logistics Service Providers (LSP) and their customers. This year’s analysis, sponsored by Penn State, Penske, and NTT Data, was no exception, and once again reflected on the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain.
The past 18 months or so have been trying ones for supply chain managers all over the world. The pandemic has created problems unlike any most of us have ever seen. Although the recently developed vaccines have been a God-send, the virus and its variants are still present and probably will be for the foreseeable future. This is particularly true in the South where vaccination rates are lower than in the rest of the country.
On August 10, much to the delight of the farm, business, and labor interests, as well as most of the general population, the Senate passed the long-awaited and painfully negotiated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. American Trucking Associations president Chris Spear called it a “groundbreaking step toward revitalizing America’s decaying roads and bridges.”