As New Jersey and across the country grapple with supply chain delays and hiring shortages, some prominent figures from these industries here say now is the time to rethink the approach to these industries. problems. “A lot of people talk about ‘let’s get back to normal.’ I don’t mean. Normal failed,” John Kennedy, who heads the New Jersey manufacturing expansion program, said at a conference Dec. 1. on Supply Chain Shortages, organized by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.
According to McCarter and his UK partner Ron Leibman, many segments of the global manufacturing and shipping supply chain have become accustomed to maintaining “lean logistics.”
“As a country, we decided that the best way to ship goods was the cheapest, the best way to manufacture was the cheapest. There was no resilience, there was no redundancy, ”he added. Leibman leads the transportation, logistics and supply chain management practice at the Newark law firm.
“All we needed was something to trigger it,” Leibman said, and it turned out to be the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused widespread factory closures, epidemics in the shipping and trucking industries; and retail disruption.
But a number of geopolitical disputes – tariffs or trade wars – could have triggered the same avalanche. But the results are the same: Freight takes weeks longer to reach destinations, adding thousands of dollars in costs, said Jimmy Shee, president of Granwell Products, a West Caldwell wholesaler of paper and synthetic film. .
President Joe Biden has implemented some measures to alleviate the delays, such as extended trucking hours and a federal investigation into allegedly excessive shipping charges and other activity in the gas and oil markets.
Some large retailers say these actions are working.
“We are seeing progress. Delays in port and transit are improving, ”Walmart chief executive Doug McMillion told Biden at a virtual White House summit in late November.
“Because of what you all did to help with the nighttime hours and because of the team’s work to redirect to other ports, to extend our deadlines and to have other creative solutions, we found an increase in throughput over the past four weeks of around 26% nationally in terms of shipping containers to ports.
MADE IN AMERICA
Some proposals have been around for some time. For example, many industry leaders and experts have called for greater national capacity, citing patriotic and national security reasons. To that end, US Senator Bob Menendez and a group of bipartisan and bicameral lawmakers are submitting a bill to Congress that would create a national supply chain database.
Supporters argue that during the early stages of the pandemic, officials understood what personal protective equipment or PPE components were produced locally, but had no knowledge of what was available in neighboring states and across the country.
“We have a database with over 9,000” manufacturers and companies, but “our databases weren’t talking to each other,” Kennedy said at the CIANJ event. “Here we’re trying to put the parts together here to try to figure out who’s making parts for certain types of PPE and ventilators, and that was taking us weeks.”
New Jersey has tried to develop its own capacity to manufacture PPE – masks, gloves and face shields, for example – but progress has been slow.
As part of the Menendez-led proposal, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership – a public-private partnership based at the National Institute of Standards and Technology – would create a national MEP supply chain database. There would be funding of $ 31 million in upfront costs and $ 104 million to keep the database running.
The database would consolidate information from manufacturing records kept in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico. It would include basic information about the company, as well as an overview of capabilities, accreditations and products. The database would allow manufacturers anywhere in the country to find domestic alternatives for raw materials and other goods, rather than depending on imports.
“What is happening is we are going from panic to panic,” Kennedy added. “Ida was not the first storm – it’s been 16 years since Katrina, 10 years since Sandy – yet we are coming back to the same normalcy and it is not working. “
Lack of trucking and warehouse personnel, as well as containers rumbling in the supply chain for days or weeks, have disrupted supply chains across the country, including areas served by the authority. Port of New York and New Jersey, which encompasses most of the Northeast and Midwest. .
“We don’t promote truck driving in the industry,” said New York Shipping Association president John Nardi. His organization represents the Port Authority workforce. “When you talk to your friends, if you say, ‘My son or my daughter, they’re going to be truck drivers,’ you’re no longer invited to the local cocktail party. “
Thus, the domestic network has not been able to keep up with the flow of goods, essentially the same issues that disrupt ports along the coasts.
Warehouses are struggling to keep up with demand, both in terms of available storage space and the workers to keep them running. The problems have been particularly acute with the explosion of online shopping and e-commerce.
Building more warehouses per se is problematic. They disrupt traffic in local communities, require a lot of space, and create impermeable surfaces like parking lots, which increase local flooding.
The state legislature is considering a bill that would control this “warehouse sprawl”, allowing local municipalities and the state government to further contribute to how these developments move forward.
“New Jersey is proud to be known as the Garden State, but we risk becoming the warehouse state,” said the bill’s main sponsor, outgoing Senate Speaker Stephen Sweeney, D- 3rd district, in a press release.
Sweeney, who lost his re-election bid last month, said the measure would give host communities and neighboring towns the ability “to have a voice in the process and the ability to reject proposals that cause them wrong ”.
New Jersey Future Research director Tim Evans said the bill would essentially create a “regional approach” that would ensure the protection of land “best used for agriculture, recreation or some other non-industrial use.”