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Freight

In these trying times, supply chains prove how essential they are….and always have been

While it really should go without saying, the importance of the supply chain to basic tenets of both economy and society have long been understated and underappreciated to a very large degree.

That is not said as an attack on anyone that has a differing opinion, not by any stretch at all. It simply comes from some observations and reports that have been made more and more clear, especially now, as we are embarking on our fourth (by my count anyhow) week of a “new normal” of getting through the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic, which, at this point, still has no clear end in sight.

On a personal level, the impact of this situation has been mixed, in that I have been working out of my home for about a decade, at this point, so that part is not different. What is different, though, is sheltering in place and social distancing, two terms I likely would have never thought of ever, to be sure, as well as the travails of home schooling our fifth grader. Let’s just say it is not my forte by any stretch.

From a supply chain perspective, it is clear as the day is long that an already incredibly difficult situation that we are all in, due to coronavirus, would be infinitely more challenging, were it not for supply chain strength and resilience that is on display all day every day. That is not just during a pandemic, that is also the case during normal times, too, something I know we are all longing for in a major way.

The last I checked we are still getting mail from the United States Postal Service (USPS) every day and we are still getting packages delivered by UPS and FedEx and DHL, among many others and I shudder to think where things would stand without their vital services.

What’s more, supermarkets remain open, and while it can be nerve racking to enter one, it cannot be avoided for many. But let’s not forget that every single item on every single shelf in those stores is, in one way or another, a byproduct of the supply chain at work. That has perhaps never been more apparent than it is now, during these chaotic, uncertain, and surreal times.

Behind most items you pick off a store shelve, there is some sort of combination of a truck driver, warehouse picker and packer, 3PL, ocean carrier, rail or intermodal provider, freight forwarder, and many more factored into that equation, no question about that.

Given you and I are heavily focused on all things supply chain and logistics, these takeaways, in many ways, are viewed as common knowledge to us. But, for many others, that was not the case until now, for many. This is not taking away from the courageous medical professionals and first responders that are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to flatten the curve and keep people safe. But, at the same time, it truly goes without saying that supply chain and logistics are as essential as it gets, and that is something that should be known and appreciated by those outside our world, too. I think it is fair to say that message is sinking in.


Newsroom Notes says THANK YOU to all of the supply chain and logistics professionals out there keeping people fed and stocked with the things they need. I would say that is pretty essential.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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