Pentagon Final Mile & President at ROVA ( Transportation Platform Company ).
Adam Hill , President & Chief Operating Officer for the Scarbrough Group of Companies
agrees that disruptions are here to stay , at least for the near future : “ I expect us to see a least another year of this . I think 2022 is going to give us a little bit of a reprieve but I don ’ t think we ’ re going to see anything approaching ‘ normal ’ until sometime in 2023 . And even then , I think we ’ ll need a new definition of normal .” The Scarbrough Group is a full-service international and domestic logistics provider , and a U . S . and Mexican Customs Broker . The group includes Scarbrough International , Scarbrough Logistics , Scarbrough Transportation , Scarbrough Consulting , and Scarbrough Warehousing .
A Flawed System That Finally Broke
Moyer points out that none of the current disruptions are especially new . Many industry observers pointed out just how frail the supply chain was , even before the pandemic . “ Many of the systems in use are antiquated , lack supply chain visibility and the ability for proactive planning ,” says Moyer .
Moyer also pointed out that there were pre-existing weaknesses in the supply chain that finally gave way when faced with rising consumer expectations intensified by the pandemic . “ What ’ s happening now only exposed the weaknesses in the supply chain ,” he says , “ Everyone in the supply chain knew the ports and labor models were fragile . It ’ s been reported and discussed for many years . What happened with the pandemic just exposed what was already known and the lack of planning . There were problems below the surface , and they just hadn ’ t reached the breaking point yet . We ’ ve been talking about these issues forever , but very few companies have really done a good job preparing and taking a proactive approach in dealing with them .”
It Didn ’ t Start With the Pandemic
Both of these logistics pros saw the roots of today ’ s issues preceding the pandemic by decades . One of the big drivers was the change in consumer expectations . “ It goes all the way back to FedEx and Amazon . They changed consumer expectations ,” says Moyer . “ Before that , the delivery companies would tell the consumer when to expect their orders ( known as the “ push model ”). Then companies like FedEx and Amazon started to put that power into the hands of the consumer ( known as the “ pull model ”). Changing from the shipper telling the consumer ‘ Your package will be delivered in three weeks ’ turned into empowering the consumer and shippers asking consumers ‘ When would you like it delivered ?’ That put stress on the entire supply chain and is here to stay . The expectation of fast delivery , shipment tracking , excellent customer service combined with a flexible return policy and free or low-cost delivery options has everyone reevaluating their solutions .
Hill pointed out that another of the big weaknesses in the supply chain can be traced back to the Recession in the early 2000s . “ We ’ re going have to go all the way back several decades to get a full picture of where we are now ,” he says .
The Pandemic Domino Effect
When COVID hit in China , cancelling Chinese New Year celebrations in 2020 , the final stressor on the supply chain fell into place . “ China was locked down for nine weeks due to the virus ,” points out Hill . “ Factories were shut down . Production ceased . That caused the steamship lines to stop servicing those ports . Then , COVID started making its way around the world . Europe shut down . The US shut down . And just as manufacturing in China picked up again , we started to see skyrocketing consumption in the US fueled by lockdowns . Fast forward now and we ’ re seeing the ports in LA and Long Beach trying to handle a 30-plus percent increase in traffic from their pre-pandemic numbers . Those goods are locked up even now as things ease a bit , but it ’ s still chaos . The warehouses on the coasts are 130 % full . We have more than 20 loads for every individual truck that ’ s available to come out on the West Coast .
spring 2022 customized logistics & delivery Magazine 45