US in need of more strategic inland ports
A growth exports to countries such as China has put a spotlight on the need for strategically placed inland ports across the United States.
US financial and professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle has released a new white paper exploring supply chain dynamics and highlighting the need for more inland ports. Traditionally focusing on moving and handling imports, an increase in exports is meaning that more inland ports are facilitating the movement of goods outside the US.
According to the report, there are three main drivers of inland port demand:
- Exports riding high – shipments to emerging markets continue to rise; U.S. agricultural products are in high demand from China
- Rising fuel costs driving rail and intermodal – inland ports offer cost-effective intermodal access and are critical components in the rapid movement of goods to and from seaports
- Growth in global containerised shipping – Savvy shippers make use of import containers arriving at inland ports to export goods back overseas
“Inland ports are becoming a critical part of the nation’s import/export cycle and the country’s competitive position on the world stage,” said John Carver, Head of Jones Lang LaSalle Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI) group. Inland ports are hubs designed to move international shipments more effectively between maritime ports and locations throughout the U.S. interior. They are connected by dedicated rail lines to one or more seaports.
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“Shippers are using inland ports to move their goods to market as efficiently as possible, and with fuel costs rising, they provide intermodal and rail options to bypass expensive and costly trucking methods,” said Carver. “Given the rise in containerized shipping methods, inland port shippers are also re-using overseas containers after they are emptied, as another method of supply chain optimization.”
One of the fastest growing exports in the US is raw agricultural produce such as what, soybeans, corn and hay, according to report. Producers and suppliers need an effective supply chain infrastructure to manage the growth in export volume, both in the immediate future and long-term.
The new inland ports
Critical to the success of the new inland port is their connectivity to rail and seaports and being able to provide manufacturers with smooth and quick intermodal trans-loading. Their location is vital. Many of the country’s inland ports are located in the Midwest, including Chicago, Memphis, St. Louis and Kansas City. There are a number of new locations under development such as the 4,000-acre Florida Inland Port in St. Lucie, FL., and the 580-acre Inland Port Arizona in Casa Grande, AZ., which will become the first inland port to serve the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“There are multiple real estate prospects as the logistics industry and exporters focus on hubs with immediate proximity to empty import containers, and to distribution hubs for shipment by rail to deep-water ports,” said Rohan àBeckett, Vice President, PAGI. “The trend toward establishing and expanding inland ports will continue, and there are major opportunities for private-sector development and investment to support the country’s growing export trade.”
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.