It’s not just the semiconductor chips in our cars, the lumber for our homes, or the steep food prices at the supermarket checkout. Supply chain touches nearly all aspects of our lives — and people everywhere are starting to understand precisely how and why. Of course, ASCM’s global community of dedicated and talented professionals has long known this fact, which is why we strive every day to make an impact with all that we do.
Often, this requires a little out-of-the-box thinking, as recently demonstrated by Walmart. The retail giant has taken the concept of a pop-up store and applied it to its logistics near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “Check this out: This was an empty lot near the LA/LB ports just four weeks ago,” writes Walmart Supply Chain Operations Executive Vice President Joe Metzger in a LinkedIn post. “Now it processes over 500 containers per day.”
In another show of ingenuity, a 32-car, 1,600-foot-long “traveling wine rack” has taken to the rails in the United Kingdom. It transports as many as 650,000 bottles from the port of Tilbury 100 miles to a depot in central England. “This is the latest, and one of the more creative, answers to the supply shortages,” write Stephen Castle and Jenny Gross for The New York Times. They add that the wine train reduces reliance on truck drivers, who are in short supply.
On the subject of our global ports, the Port of San Diego has announced that it will have only zero-emissions trucks and equipment at its terminals by 2030. Port Commission Chair Michael Zucchet says the ambitious goal aims, in particular, to address the needs of neighboring populations: “The portside communities … are objectively some of the sickest communities,” he admits.
California Air Resources Board research reveals that the supply chain bottlenecks caused by recent port slowdowns are leading to a significant increase in emissions. In fact, since the port blockages, the pollution is roughly equal to emissions from 5.8 million passenger cars. This, of course, has real health consequences for people living in these areas: “For years, portside communities in California have suffered from polluted air — which is linked to high rates of asthma, cancer and other problems,” the report states.
Furthermore, the surge in Omicron, which the World Health Organization has deemed a variant of concern, could lead to additional delays. Analysts from TS Lombard state that it poses a serious threat to the recovery of regional exports. And Per Hong, senior partner at consulting firm Kearney, told NBC that Omicron will be yet another test of resilience for already-stressed supply chains.
The supply chain stress is real. But there are ways to identify gaps and refine strategies in order to alleviate the pressure. The free, fully open ASCM Enterprise Certification for Sustainability Standards are an established method for empowering organizations to make an impact through supply chain excellence. More importantly, by using the framework, supply chain professionals can pinpoint areas where inspiration and imagination can make a real difference ethically, environmentally and economically.
I invite you to take the Enterprise Supply Chain Maturity Assessment today. The 30-minute evaluation is a simple way to advance your supply chain and ensure that all the people touched are better for it.