CHRIS CAPLICE PHOTO: IAN WAGREICH/DOWJONES
Chris Caplice, Executive Director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Matthew Rose, executive chairman of BNSF Railway Co., were interviewed on the subject of US Supply Chains by Gabriella Stern of the Wall Street Journal.
It sure was interesting to see how much dancing was going on. Chris Caplice’s response to the question“What’s your evaluation of the U.S. transportation network?” used an awful lot of words to say “it’s all screwed up.”
When subsequently asked kind of the same question Matthew Rose highlighted the fact (I’m paraphrasing) that when the interstate highway system was built we had a population of 225 million and today we have 310 million. There is more need for freight transportation to service this increased population and the infrastructure hasn’t kept pace.
Is There Political Leadership That Will Reckon With This?
So Ms. Stern asks the $64,000 question “Is there political leadership that will reckon with this?”
Matthew Rose answers (I’m paraphrasing) “Yes – at the state level.”
Chris Caplice answers (I’m paraphrasing) “I agree at the state level. There are also plenty of professionals in the Department Of Transport and Transport Research Board that see the challenge but aren’t empowered to do anything.”
So take these two answers, place delicately in a martini shaker, shake twice and pour. What do you get?
The Answer is No
A huge resounding No to the posed question! There is no political leadership that will reckon with this. The Government doesn’t get it. With political games like this going on all the time what kind of leadership can we expect?
Supply Chain Technologies Bring Some Hope
What really brought this sorry state of affairs home to me was the graphic at the end of the interview. I’ve reproduced it below. It is the result of a survey conducted in 2015 with 1,018 supply chain professionals by SCM World. It’s a survey they have conducted every year for the past five years. I have included the 2014 results for for comparison.
SCM SURVEY 2015
SCM SURVEY 2014
It’s a survey of supply chain disruptive technologies. I’ve mentioned a number of them in past posts, 3D Printing, drones, the Internet of Things etc. Now look at how the percentage of supply chain professionals respond that the respective technologies have become significantly more disruptive and important.
“Big Data Analytics” has jumped from 64% – 77%. “Digital Supply Chain” has made a huge jump from 49% – 71% and the “Internet of Things” has jumped from 45% – 64%.
Supply Chain Professionals Do Get It
This tells me one thing. As a collective industry supply chain professionals “are on it!” There are a whole host of technology advances underway that we can and will utilize to create faster, more flexible and more cost efficient supply chains. We get it!
However, from where I am standing, the Federal Government doesn’t! They need to step up to the plate now, to start building the transportation infrastructure required to support our efforts to service the needs of 325 million US citizens and every hard working US business that ships product.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below.