4 Supply Chain and Logistics Trends to Watch in 2022

It’s been a historic and challenging couple years in supply chain and logistics. As we approach 2022, we’re still facing extraordinary demand, fleets are doing the best they can short-handed, and the current infrastructure is backed up, leading to delays and rising prices.

I wish I could say we’ll round the corner once we get past the holidays, but it’s more likely the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better.

The good news is that many companies still haven’t maximized the capacity they have. By taking the right steps, you can position your company for success despite the many challenges.

Watch these four trends in 2022, each of which offers opportunities for greater productivity and efficiency.

1. Plan for a prolonged talent shortage

Everyone is learning how to do more with less through the current driver shortage, which will continue to delay companies looking to expand their fleet or increase capacity. Unfortunately, we won’t see relief any time soon, with nearly a quarter of the trucking workforce expected to hit retirement in the next decade—retirement accounts for 54% of the driver shortage, according to the National Transportation Institute (NTI).

It’s not just drivers, either. With so many container ships waiting off the coast of Long Beach, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a stevedore strike in the coming months. Supply chain professionals, who are seen as the gurus who can help organizations thrive through this crunch, remain in high demand.

With competition for talent so fierce right now, do everything in your power to do right by your people: If you own a fleet, make sure your drivers are feeling loved; if you’re a broker, make sure you’re treating partners with respect.

In addition, seek out ways to maximize the time and resources you have. Expanding your headcount could certainly help you meet demand and grow, but you can likely find opportunities to save your drivers time and use technology that allows supply chain professionals to focus on more strategic tasks.

2. The crunch for capacity will continue

Right now there’s too much demand and not nearly enough capacity, a perfect storm that’s been approaching for years and has only been exacerbated by the growth in shipping volumes due to COVID-19.

Rental prices per ship can be blown out to $200,000 a day, and some brands are paying a premium to move product by air—in 2020, Apple chartered 200 private jets to ship devices, a new company record. It’s going to take time for capacity to catch up to demand, and companies will need to make the most of the capacity they have by keeping a close eye on asset utilization and prioritizing shipments.

3. M&A will increase

Global shipping companies and manufacturers alike are investing in visibility through M&A, with deal value rising 86% year over year in the first half of 2021. UPS recently acquired Roadie, both for its technology and ability to expand the existing UPS network, while Panasonic acquired Blue Yonder, an AI-driven, end-to-end supply chain management service.

Given the shortages in talent and capacity, situational awareness can reveal opportunities to add capacity and manage growth sustainably. Visibility is now accepted as a strategic way to drive increased efficiency and utilization, and we can expect to see more companies acquire these capabilities throughout 2022.

4. Investment in infrastructure could pave a path forward

We need new ships, new trains, new planes, new ports, and if we could create supply chain infrastructure overnight, that would relieve a lot of the capacity crunch.

There is no magic wand, and it’ll take time to catch up to the infrastructure we need. Here’s hoping that Congress gets past its deadlock and passes the infrastructure bill so we can start to build out capacity. Until then, we’ll continue to seek out new efficiencies to do more with what we have.

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