The Whole Picture

A week ago we suggested that decision-makers on the West Coast should turn to “responsible logisticians” for assistance. Perry Trunick of “Logistics Today” is just one of the many specialists in that field who could make some sense of the problems facing the maritime community, and he’d be a great starting point. He has a habit of looking at the whole picture rather than the wheel that’s squeaking the loudest, and it’s this kind of an approach that has been lacking. But it’s not only Perry who’s scrutinizing the logistic breakdowns at terminals, this bottleneck has been repeatedly identified by some of the most respected authorities along the supply chain, like Kurt Nagle, Chuck Raymond, John Vickerman, Douglas Tilden, Ron Widdows, and almost everyone else whose operations have been adversely affected by supply line congestion. The rigid and primitive mind set of those putting the game plan together, however, is the biggest hurdle to be overcome.

Mr. Trunick’s article in the November issue of “Logistics Today” raises some serious questions about the steps being taken to deal with security issues. He points out, first of all, that although no accurate estimate of the cost of maritime security is available, the Port Security Council of America estimates that the port industry will require $ 7.4 billion over the next decade just to comply with mandates contained in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2003, and that’s just on the port and infrastructure side. Dawn Russell, a professor at Penn State, cited an additional price (or loss) of more than $ 150 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

It doesn’t stop there, however. The IMO, the International Maritime Organization, requires the governments, port authorities and shipping companies of its 164 member countries to comply with the ISPS, the International Ship and Port Facility Code. The IMO states that, “The whole idea of the ISPS Code is to reduce the vulnerability of the industry to attack, thus countering the threat and reducing the risk”.

“Reducing the risk”?? Earlier this month the $ 28.9 billion Homeland Security Appropriations Act was signed, and Mr. Trunick noted that it’s still not clear who is supposed to be paying for this heightened security. Well, we know exactly who’ll shoulder the cost of the $ 28.9 billion. John and Jane Doe, of course, will foot that bill as taxpayers, but they’ll also pay the cost, as consumers, for whatever overseas security measures are taken. And this financial burden does nothing more than “reduce the vulnerability”? We’re entitled to more than that.

To begin with, we’re entitled to know why no definitive steps are being taken to combat threats to our nation’s security. Enormous amounts of funds are being appropriated for indefinite and questionable procedures, but the only visible results are escalating costs and a waste of precious time. In spite of all this indecision and guesswork, those who should know better continue to insist that 100% scanning/inspection of containers is not possible. That just isn’t true. This website describes, and offers, a system which makes it possible to scan/inspect, with existing technology and for a fraction of the appropriated funds, every container passing through U. S. and foreign terminals. Wouldn’t it be worth our while to call upon responsible logisticians to evaluate this system?