Lessons Learned: Supply Chain Risk Management

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Unusually cold and icy winters in the eastern half of the continent in 2013-14 and 2014-15 disrupted supply chains all the way back to West Coast ports and contributed to congestion there. Chassis shortages and dislocations that resulted from carriers selling their assets to chassis-leasing companies contributed to increased storage charges and fees for returning equipment late, adding to port congestion problems in Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey, the two largest U.S. port complexes.

1. Exporters who this past year suffered huge losses during the more than four months of West Coast port congestion associated with the ILWU contract negotiations learned the hard way that in addition to basic supply chain logistics drivers such as cost, location and transit time, they should have built closer working ties with ocean and overland carriers long before the ILWU job actions began, said Donna Lemm, vice president of global sales at Mallory Alexander International Logistics. “When you’re a latecomer to the game, it’s hard to get enough capacity,” she said.

1. Candace Holowicki, director of global transportation and logistics at Trimas Corp., said the weather and labor events reinforced the need to have backup plans for cargo routing as well as procurement, while Bradley Parkhurst, transportation sourcing leader at Owens Corning, said having a backup plan is not good enough unless the logistics department “pulls the trigger fast enough.”

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