Well, this year has been frustrating for many of us. The economic recovery has been slow, and many Americans still don't have the kind of jobs they'd like or are qualified for.
With tens of thousands trying to buy or keep health insurance and others curious about who is reading their e-mail, you probably will be inundated with non-supply chain requests this Christmas. Even so, I do have a few things I would appreciate your considering.
First of all, I bet you thought you had the truck driver hours-of-service issue taken care of. The new rules took effect on July 1, and while many are still not happy with them, they have been litigated enough. However, three congressmen are trying to make an end run around the courts and have introduced legislation that would roll the restart provisions back to the pre-July 1 rules until the Government Accountability Office can review the matter. Enough is enough! Please see what you can do to put an end to this once and for all. We should be searching for ways to operate efficiently within the rules rather than trying to change them. I suspect even the reindeer are growing tired of hearing about when their rest periods should take place.
Next year, Congress will be considering a new surface transportation authorization bill, and an 11-member panel from the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee recently issued its report. Problem is, in many respects, the report just gave us a blinding glimpse of the obvious. We know that infrastructure is a problem and that the highway trust fund is almost depleted. What we still don't know is how we're going to fund the needed improvements, nor do the panel members. While in Memphis, they met with FedEx (who let them play with the simulator) and predictably recommended that "adequate funding and programmatic support" be devoted to the air-traffic control upgrade known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Already 10 years and billions of dollars have been spent on this program, and it seems to encounter obstacles at every turn. More budget cuts are likely, but if this panel can make this happen, it will have earned its keep. However, before Congress considers the new funding bill, it is going to need a much better plan than it has now. Your help is going to be crucial. I realize dealing with this Congress on anything is difficult, but as long as you control their toys, you can control them.
On another subject, I just returned from my 45th NCPDM/CLM/CSCMP annual conference. I have never been to a bad one, but the recent Denver meeting was quite different in one major respect—the prominence of technology and technology vendors. Of the 100-plus exhibitors, a large proportion were promoting systems of some type. A number of breakout sessions did as well. I fully realize how important technology is to the supply chain. Without TMS, WMS, and all the other sophisticated tools, supply chain management would still be in the Dark Ages. However, let's not forget our trucks, trains, and warehouses. Without them, we wouldn't need the technology. Perhaps a word to the 2014 program chair might be helpful.
Finally, I'm sure you are aware of the same-day delivery trend being nudged by Amazon, Wal-Mart, e-Bay Now, and others. I'm not sure what impact this will have on you but feel certain it will be an issue for some of the other retailers. In my decades in this industry, I have never seen a better opportunity for a logistics service provider (LSP). By establishing—in a densely populated area—a consolidation program for smaller retailers and offering same-day deliveries, an LSP can fill a major (and profitable) void. I mentioned it to a prominent LSP owner, who said," I agree. It is the wave of the future." Yet he doesn't want to jump on his surfboard. I am betting you can find someone who's willing to make an innovative move. Please see what you can do.
Be sure and tell the reindeer not to keep two logbooks. The CSA 2010 police are watching you.