Few other industries are as in tune with the nation’s infrastructure as the logistic industry. Our existing transportation infrastructure hasn’t kept up with our growing and shifting consumer economy.
Two-day delivery is the new norm and businesses like Kroger and Walmart are requiring their suppliers to deliver goods on time in full (OTIF) or suffer the consequences. Soon we might see one-day delivery as the shipping method of choice. The idea of rapid turnaround time sounds great: theoretically less trucks should be parked, more freight is in transit, and everyone is happy with the flow of services and cash exchanged.
But this utopic dream isn’t exactly the reality. It’s almost impossible to advise carriers on how they can accomplish OTIF. We all know that most of the factors that affect OTIF are entirely out of the driver’s control.
One of the problems is efficiency at the loading docks.
Other hindrances to delivering OTIF are the conditions in trying to get the freight to its destination.
Planning delivery routes is crucial so trucks don’t get wedged under bridges, exceed the weight capacity, or get stuck on train tracks (came up behind that one the other day). But drivers also have to worry about debris kicking up from the roads or crumbling down from overpasses, hitting pot holes, and avoiding aggressive merging traffic. Need we even mention the time and money lost in traffic jams from accidents, construction, or rush hour?
All these problems affect carriers, shippers, customers, and brokers. We can tout improved industry technologies such as TMS, capacity matching, and ELDs, but without an efficient infrastructure, tech can only do so much.
Infrastructure Week promotes advocacy and education of our national infrastructures so these issues can be properly discussed and addressed. It aims to bring together businesses, laborers, and elected officials to spotlight the need to revitalize, modernize, and invest in infrastructure.
This week-long event does not only highlight our roads, but also draws attention to our outdated airports, our archaic rail system, and suffering water, sewer, and energy infrastructures. Abby Gardener, the Communications Director from Infrastructure Week, pointed out that “every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues its Infrastructure Report Card, giving the nation’s aviation systems, roads, drinking and wastewater, ports and much more near-failing grades that should at least embarrass us, if not spur national leaders to action.” Everything needs our attention.
The grade is not good, as the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card (the most current as of this publication) was a D+. This means that a majority of our infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and nearing the end of its service life.
It’s not only the ASCE who have identified serious issues, either. When the Trump administration published the Fourth National Climate Assessment, they found that the current weather and climate projections are going to further exacerbate “existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure.” This in particular has garnered the attention of Democrats, Republicans, and the president.
Not only does our poor infrastructure effect the logistics industry, but it directly costs everyone in the US. According to the ASCE, the current state of our infrastructure is costing each American family thousands of dollars a year in damages or lost productivity.
The more we engage in bringing these issues to our representatives, the more likely positive economic change will happen. As Gardener put it:
Smart investments in transportation infrastructure not only create good-paying jobs in construction, but also expand access to jobs and affordable housing across cities and regions. Better transportation infrastructure shortens commutes, reduces health-threatening congestion, and increases both worker productivity and family and leisure time. Affordable, reliable, clean water attracts new businesses from breweries to manufacturers. Modernizing and maintaining ports and supply chain infrastructure increases productivity, mitigates business risk, and lowers the costs of raw materials, food, and consumer goods. Investments in resilient infrastructure allow emergency responders to get to areas impacted by hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters faster, helps communities recover faster, and, of course, it is more fiscally responsible to build once the right way instead of rebuilding repeatedly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
In honor of Infrastructure Week, and hot on the heels of the Trump/Pelosi infrastructure talks, you can submit a letter to your representatives through the ASCE to show your support of infrastructure improvements for the sake of our industry. There is a letter template, and you are welcome to edit it as you see fit. You can also attend or host an Infrastructure Week event in your area, and offer to bring in your local stakeholders to learn more about these issues. Visit https://infrastructureweek.org/resources/ for more ideas and information. Let your representatives know how the poorly graded infrastructure affects you, your business, and that you want improvement.
If you need all the support you can get in running your freight brokerage, contact us today. Our business developers are available to hear your needs and help support your business with technology, back office support, and mentorship.