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Supply chains top concerns: On the horizon

generic truck tractor trailer

For this transportation-themed series, Blueprints hosted a roundtable discussion of crucial issues affecting the sector. Learn what our panel of nine experts had to say, as they offer their perspectives and weigh in on key issues and more.

Given all these challenges, both new and existing, is there hope on the horizon for the logistics and transportation sector?

Will an increase in electric or autonomous vehicles be the way out, or will building more local distribution centers or increased use of intermodal transport provide a solution? We let our panel have the last word.

Jason Furman, president and COO, Sunbelt Logistics Group BB #:135767 in Mississauga, ON
We’ve seen a perfect storm create unprecedentedly high transport prices.

We anticipate the market will remain tight and will not let up until next year at the earliest. Things will continue to get worse before they get better.

Marshall Kipp, president and CEO, Advanced Transportation Services (A.T.S.), Inc. BB #:120506 in Visalia, CA
I think the future of transportation will see a slow implementation of electric and self-driven vehicles. It’s still quite far from attaining a large percentage of how goods are transported.

I believe the ATA is saying we’ll need another million drivers over the next ten years—that hardly sounds like self-driving is going to take over!

Mike Laws, founder and president of Laws Logistics in Naples, FL
I must admit I didn’t think self-driven vehicles would be a factor in my lifetime, but I was wrong. That and other emerging technologies could be gamechangers if properly developed and utilized.

I believe intermodal will be better recognized as a ‘green’ alternative to road transportation, but there are hurdles to overcome with congestion and chassis issues.

Michelle Lewis, manager, Sparky’s Transportation Corporation BB #:170030 in Clarks Summit, PA
While it would be ideal to have electric or self-driven vehicles, I think it will be a while before we get there.

The future is mechanized for sure, but for now, we need to be understanding and all work together to face the challenges that come our way.

Norita Taylor, director of PR, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) BB #:162349 in Grain Valley, MO
More local distribution centers are key. Manufacturers should also be required to be transparent with their safety data.

Ted Prince, COO and EVP for planning, Tiger Cool Express, LLC BB #:290720 in Overland Park, KS
Inflation is the next shoe to drop after the driver shortage and fuel costs.

People talk about ESG [environmental, social, and governance] and green technology, but the only green they care about is money. For produce, the challenge is it has to be a profit-maker for supermarkets or they’re operating at 1-percent margins.

Intermodal can work, but everyone needs to up their game. It’s a viable and environmentally acceptable system in the right lane with the right service.

Michael Miqueli, president, San Antonio Broker Services, Inc. BB #:197829 in Secaucus, NJ
With the way the industry is panning out, intermodal has to become the transportation form of choice. It’s hard enough to find local drivers, let alone drivers willing to go cross-country.

To guarantee freight gets moved, build relationships with intermodal carriers to ensure space.

Lowell Randel, SVP government and legal affairs, Global Cold Chain Alliance in Arlington, VA
The greening of the supply chain will continue, including increased adoption of electric vehicles and electric or hybrid refrigerated trailers.

In addition, policies at the state and federal level will continue to drive companies toward more environmentally friendly technologies.

Joe Rubini, president, Rally Logistics Inc. BB #:209734 in Toronto, ON
I think the trucking industry needs to evolve, like everything else. Years ago, automatic trucks were frowned upon; fast-forward to today, and they’ve become the transmission of choice.

The industry may be a little behind, but as these technologies and innovations continue to evolve, they will eventually be embraced and will make things much better.

This is an excerpt from the Transportation & Logistics supplement to the July/August 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole supplement.