On The Same Page

A few days ago, in Article 9, we commented on the many national associations that have been set up to promote the interests of concerned members, but we noted the absence of an umbrella-like intermodal supply chain association that would serve to link the links, so to speak. The growing need for such an alliance becomes more and more obvious as the transportation industry muddles through one crisis after another, each one more severe than the one preceding. What is also quite obvious is the subliminal emphasis that has been placed upon this need time after time by so many transportation officials these past few years. It might be worthwhile at this point to review recent statements made by some of the industry’s foremost spokesmen citing the need for coordinated efforts and a sharing of information with respect to forecasting and developing trends. Here are just a few quotations that bear repeating, and we can begin with the AAPA’s S.H.A.R.E initiative.

• Kurt Nagle said that this initiative, “… promotes both the principle and the process of banding together and pooling resources for greater muscle, which will serve to the greatest benefit for each of us individually and the entire industry collectively”.
• Chuck Raymond, at MARAD’s Short Sea Shipping Conference, said, “The U.S. has yet to achieve a truly intermodal national transportation system. The system today represents an aggregate of public and private modes of freight and passenger delivery, each with its own stovepipe areas of interest and funding.”
• John Bescec, VP of Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters, said, “We have serious intermodal problems and we need collective solutions, rather than individual finger-pointing. We want to bring everyone to the table to find solutions – the shipping lines, the ports and their terminals, the railways, trucking, importers and exporters, warehousing, and the federal, provincial and local governments.”
• Dr. Andrew Traill, the Freight Transport Association’s Head of Maritime Cargo Policy in the UK, stated, “This is something that cannot be solved by any single group. Shippers, ports, shipping lines, rail freight operators, Network Rail, the Highway Agency, and others all need to work together to sort things out, planning together appropriate actions to ensure the traffic keeps moving.”
• Hallock Northcott, President of the American Association of Exporters and Importers, says, “This may be our industry’s last best window of opportunity to help craft an effective and productive national response to today’s global trading and security challenges. We must work toward a coordinated and multidimensional response that balances national security with trade facilitation and economic security.”
• Steven R. Blust, Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission, says, “One of the greatest challenges facing the industry is to ensure that our transportation system is capable of safely, securely and efficiently accommodating the requirements of ever-expanding trade and global supply chains … The creation of forums for communication and discussion among the industry segments should be promoted and facilitated. Active collaboration among cargo interests, carriers, ports, intermediaries and government entities will be a key element in reaching effective solutions.”
• Ron Widdows, Chief Executive of APL Ltd., says, “There is no doubt about the scale of challenges in front of us, and the need to think differently about our business. But by working together in 2005 and beyond, we can positively influence the environment, and find solutions that minimize the impact on service reliability.”
• Tony Scioscia, President, APM Terminals North America, says, “To handle this growth, we must lead changes in the national transportation infrastructure, the productivity of waterfront labor and cargo-handling capabilities at our container terminals. New efficiencies, stronger teamwork and innovative approaches are needed industrywide.”
• Adrian Gonzalez, Director, Logistics Executive Council, of the ARC Advisory Group, says, “Although the need for better collaboration among shippers and carriers is a recurring theme, maintaining the status quo will be impossible in light of physical constraints and more demanding service requirements. Although this prediction has been made in the past, you will see better collaboration and more “outside-the-box” thinking between shippers and carriers in 2005.”
• Zhang Bing, President of China Shipping North America, says, “All responsible maritime carriers wish to assist in the evolutionary process of providing smooth and effective surface transportation to the shipping public.”
• Henry F. White, President, Institute of International Container Lessors, says, “There is no single answer, but if no solutions are sought through organizations or governments in 2005, we can foresee the usual political rhetoric forcing governments to act and undesirable solutions imposed on the maritime industry.”
• Edward J. Kelly, Executive Director, Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, says, “As transportation congestion creates a negative impact on the general populace, our transportation industry will become a target on every politician’s radar screen. The industry must collectively and creatively create internally formulated solutions, or an irate public will initiate their own solutions.”
• James J. White, Executive Director, Maryland Port Administration, says, “Increasing international cargo could potentially overload the inland transportation systems in delivering goods in a timely manner. Best practices, technology and innovative cargo handling can only take us so far. However, as an industry we need to collectively determine a long-term strategic plan.”
• John B. Ficker, President, National Industrial Transportation League, says, “There is still value to be gained in transportation and logistics, but it will require even more effort and collaboration. That collaboration must be on many fronts: Between shipper and carrier; Between the departments within carriers and shippers; Between the public and private sectors; Between the modes of transportation; Between labor and management … That will be the challenge of 2005.”
• Sandy Kennedy, President, Retail Industry Leaders Association, says, “Stakeholders (carriers, terminal operators, truckers, unions, etc.) need to work together to develop an industry-wide solution that works for everyone instead of relying on governments on how the ports should operate. For the longer term, industry, transportation providers, unions, ports operators, importers-exporters and other players in the supply chain need to work together to solve the more critical issues facing port congestion …”

Let’s nominate these 15 officials to be board members of the industry’s “umbrella association”.