How would you summarize the supply chain in 2021 in five words?

How would you summarize the supply chain in 2021 in five words?

A never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

—Brian Higgins
Principal, Supply Chain & Operations Leader

CHAOS: Challenging Hectic Absurd Obscure Somber

—Jeff Pepperworth
President & CEO
iGPS Logistics

Scale matters for everything shortages.

Home Depot, Walmart, and Costco are among those who can charter entire vessels to ensure capacity. Companies from Nike to Amazon increased air freight, despite costs of up to $2 million a charter.

Large fast-moving consumer goods firms can procure more of everything from raw materials to packaging and transport. Large retailers can purchase "panic pallets" and absorb the inventory costs. They have the means to lessen exposure as compared to the markets overall.

—Susan Beardslee
Principal Analyst, Supply Chain Management and Logistics
ABI Research

Biggest dumpster fire ever.

—Chris Peckham
VP, Operations

Buckle up for the ride.

—Darlene Wolf
SVP, Strategic Partners
Arrive Logistics

One down, two to go.

Supply chains have weathered the first phase of the pandemic—with immediate impacts like manufacturing disruptions and demand swings. We are now in phase 2; we are seeing the non-intuitive impacts resulting from a complex ecosystem, for example, container capacity and raw material supplies. In phase 3, we will understand the new normal and demand will have been adjusted for the abnormal swings experienced in phases 1 and 2.

—Allen Jacques
Industry Leader

Everybody’s rethinking their supply chain.

—Mark Robinson
UPS Capital

Antiquated processes unearthed significant disruption.

—Michael Hung
CBX Software

Strained, unreliable, and under supported.

—Allen Polk
VP, Sales

Unprecedented, volatile, dysfunctional, but hopeful.

—Neil Wheeldon
Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer
BDP International

Evolving at an accelerated pace.

—Greg White
SVP, Corporate Development

Opportunity to improve business strategies.

—Greg Forbis
EVP, Strategy & Business Development
RJW Logistics Group

Bottlenecks, bullwhips lead to resiliency.

—Christina Vali
Director, Client Solutions

A massive broken unpredictable mess.

—Kevin Ledversis
Sales Director
Newcastle Systems

Global, volatile, long, expensive, recovering.

—Arjun Chandar
Founder & CEO

Opportunity to excel and evolve.

—Bruce Lancaster
Wilson Electronics

Unbridled consumerism causing record delays.

—David Bowers
VP, Warehouse Operations
TA Services

A digital revolution is happening. Massive disruption, wild unpredictability, and sky-high customer expectations have combined to produce a perfect storm for global supply chains. Shippers have no choice but to abandon outdated ways of working and get on board with the digital revolution at hand.

—Virgil Ferreira
COO Rate Management

A slow moving goat rodeo.

—Dale Young
VP, Warehousing & Distribution
World Distribution Services LLC

Necessity = mother of invention.

—Tom Martucci
Vice President & Chief Technology Officer
Consolidated Chassis Management

More capacity starts with labor.

—Gregory W. Tuthill
Chief Commercial Officer
SeaCube Containers

Congested. Essential. Gritty. Painful. Heroic.

How people are overcoming the influx of shipments and pain points to fulfill orders is heroic.

—Dustin Hansen

Disruption, uncertainty, watershed, risk-managed, digital.

Over the past 20 months, supply chains have been faced with unpredictability and disruptions on a global scale. 2021 has shown supply chains need to become more resilient and adapt digitally.

—Mick Jones
Strategic Supply Chain Advisor

Pushing limits and prioritizing people.

—Sean Elliott
Chief Technology Officer/Chief Digital Officer
Körber Supply Chain

Congestion, volatility, complexity meet perseverance.

—Patrick Campbell
U.S. Chief Operating Officer
Coyote Logistics

Challenging, underinvested, ripe for disruption.

—Gonzalo Galindo
CEMEX Ventures

Small bottlenecks create major disruptions.

—Nathan Strang
Director, Ocean Trade Lane Management

Ripe for digital disruption.

Particularly for retailers, 2021 revealed the urgent need for innovative supply chain strategies and disruptive technologies.

—Guy Bloch

We need operational resilience now.

—Jennifer Bisceglie
CEO & Founder

High demand, over stressed, lacking.

—Lonny Holston
Export Operations Coordinator

Broken, opportunity, opaque, unsustainable, inflationary.

—Scott Evans

Drinking from a fire hose.

—Patrick J. Allen, CSCP
Client Solutions Director
Transportation Insight

Chance favors the prepared mind.

—Lior Elazary
inVia Robotics

SMBs face threat and opportunity.

—Dennis Oates
Chief Logistics Officer

Much Ado About Nothing Delivered.

—Eric Allais
President & CEO
PathGuide Technologies

Adapt and innovate to survive.

—Alex Wakefield
Longbow Advantage

Crisis exposed need for visibility.

—Sam Lurye
CEO & Founder

Unpredictable, undersupplied, untimely, underappreciated, understaffed.

Jonathan Parks
Senior Vice President, Supply Chain
iGPS Logistics

Delayed shipments requiring urgent delivery.

Adam Whelpley
Transportation Logistics Manager

CHAIN: Cautiously Hopeful Against Increasing Neglect.

It is pretty clear that supply chains for decades have been viewed by finance and hordes of MBAs as cost centers to squeeze out inefficiencies and expenses. A continual neglect in regular investment has come home to roost in 2021. Yet, I’m cautiously optimistic about the role of modern technology to, when applied, fix several of the systematic problems we now face.

Jason Murray

Disrupted, optimized, but still broken.

It needs more attention from IT and logistics professionals to get it fixed.

Dmitri Fedorchenko
CEO and Co-Founder

Inflexible, foreseeable, resiliency, fixable, responsible.

Let me explain. We have experienced the perfect global storm of COVID-induced closure of demand followed by almost overnight exponential increase as restrictions lifted, combined with economic and political trade barriers, years of under-investment in modern transportation innovation, and a few accidents (eg. Evergreen’s Ever Given) thrown in for good measure.

While these specific issues were perhaps not envisaged, issues do happen and should therefore be foreseeable. What it has done is thrown into dramatic spotlight the inflexibility of our global supply chains, and if we have learned anything it is that we must build in better resilience. We have come to accept that redundancy in supply chains must be eliminated for the cost it incurs; we now need to rethink that logic.

The challenges we currently face are fixable, but longer-term it requires a different approach; one that really understands where the weak points are, what might fail before it does, and to be prepared to fix when it does. It will also require a more responsible circular model that has less reliance on sourcing new materials into the supply chain and more focus on retaining materials within it.

Oliver Lemanski

Bring ALL solutions to customers.

Tyler Scogin
Senior Account Manager
Leeds, AL
TA Services

Have a great answer to a good question?

Be sure to participate next month. We want to know:

What is the biggest supply chain lesson you learned over the past two years?

We’ll publish some answers. Tell us at [email protected] or tweet us @ILMagazine #ILgoodquestion.

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