It's probably safe to assume that nobody chooses a career in logistics and supply chain management for the fame and the glory. Create a dazzling marketing campaign, perform a feat of financial wizardry, or design a ground-breaking product and you'll earn adulation and renown. Not so in logistics. In fact, the mark of a successful logistics operation—one that gets the stuff where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, damage free and at a good price—is that nobody notices.
Face it. What you do is taken for granted. You don't get a high five because you got the Cheerios to the supermarkets in the Southwest on time, or you helped make sure there was an Xbox under the Christmas tree for every teen-aged boy. When it comes to your job, you might as well be invisible.
That is, of course, unless something goes wrong. When something isn't in the right place at the right time, you suddenly become quite visible.
And so it is with the business as a whole. Think about it: how often do you hear or read anything related to logistics or the supply chain? Outside of media outlets like this one, very rarely.
In fact, if you do hear or read something logistics-related in the mainstream media, it's usually because something has gone horribly awry. The hottest-selling item of the holiday season is stuck on the docks in Long Beach. Or a freight train hauling chemicals derails, putting a neighborhood in peril. Or "one of those damn trucks" is involved in a rush-hour accident, making thousands of commuters late for work.
You get the idea. Logistics and supply chain professionals toil in obscurity. Because the activity goes on behind the scenes, most people are never aware of it at all.
Members of Congress are no exception. They're no more likely than the general public to recognize what takes place in the theater of logistics operations. And they're no more likely to understand the challenges facing people responsible for moving loads of computers, pumpkins, pig iron, windshield wipers, doll clothes, and potting soil from one part of the world to another.
That's why getting attention from Congress has been an ongoing struggle. And why persuading Congress to address critical logistics infrastructure and regulatory issues has been a continuing battle.
Take the proposed development of a national transportation policy, for example. John Ficker, head of the National Industrial Transportation League, has been leading the charge to get Congress to formulate a national policy.He'd like to see a coalition of shippers, carriers, highway designers, and state and federal policy makers, among others, devise a master plan for the nation's transportation system— one whose goals would include cleaner air, safer highways and less road congestion. And importantly, one that produces an efficient transportation network that contributes to the nation's economic health. The plan, he emphasizes, must address all things freight-related. As he puts it: We don't just need a national transportation policy; we need a national freight transportation policy.
He's right, and he could use your help. There are 535 members of Congress. Some of them represent you. Do they know who you are? Do they know your company? Do they understand the critical role logistics plays in the nation's economy? Do they know why decaying roads and bridges put our entire economy at risk? Do they understand that it's more important to decide whether to lift restrictions on LCVs (longer combination vehicles) than whether an old rail bed should be converted into a bike path?
They need to. John Ficker and others like him are working hard to make sure they do. Won't you help?