Going back to the onset of the pandemic, there was a true feeling of helplessness (in a way), as well as a healthy dose of uncertainty, in that there was so much that was unclear and the path to normalcy was largely unknown.
There was also what could be called a healthy dose of sentiment towards how the pandemic was forcing logistics and supply chain operations onto a path of the new normal, or future normal, or whatever you want to call it.
Well, more than 20 months later, how has that premise panned out? In a sense, it really depends on who you were to ask. A motor carrier may have a different take than a port operator, and a retail shipper and an agriculture shipper would have different views, too, for some things.
But there are some things that represent a common bond among supply chain stakeholders, whether they be a shipper, carrier, or 3PL.
The impact of the Covid-19 on labor availability has been—and continues to be—significant, to say the least.
The examples are plentiful, of course, and that common bond is apparent, even across such a fragmented marketplace as ours. Is there one which is more fragmented? I honestly cannot think of one that is, but I bet some healthcare and financial people have their hands raised.
What’s more, while the pandemic has brought about some major changes in how we view and approach certain things, there are other things that we were all keeping an eye on and monitoring that are still top of mind for many industry stakeholders today.
A “short” list includes things like the speedy pace of M&A activity, which clearly has been accelerated over the course of the pandemic. Others include: the ongoing push for autonomous trucks; an industry-wide push to lower CO2 emissions; the state of global trade as it relates to trade imbalances and tariffs; the never-ending debate regarding nearshoring or globalization; the ongoing advent of robotics, machine learning, AI, and 3D manufacturing; and the ubiquitous push for ever-shorter e-commerce delivery times and windows.
Other things include policy and regulations, with the Senate’s recent introduction of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and the upcoming Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) hearing on reciprocal switching.
We all know first-hand just how hectic logistics and supply chain operations are in these interesting times, of course. It is not like supply chain and logistics operators were sitting around and moving shipments from one place to another, of course. It is more that now everyone knows about the supply chain and logistics sectors, due to things going especially haywire at the beginning of the pandemic.
While we all obviously cannot wait for things to return to “normal” (remember those days?) sooner than later, the importance and relevance of the supply chain is and will be etched in everyone’s minds going forward. As the supply chain goes, the world subsequently goes along with it for the ride, make no mistake.
Things remain challenging and concerning, for a whole host of reasons, but, at the same time, there is a like to look forward to and be excited about, too.
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