WT100 Blog

A Job For All Seasons

The logistics community steps up in times of need.

November 30, 2012

The last weeks of the year are always busy, but it’s a good time to reflect on the year.

Supply chain professionals face some of their biggest challenges in the final weeks of the calendar year as they are either part of the retail peak or they are trying to keep their supply chains running smoothly around the demands retail places on logistics capacity.

This year, the season got off to a rough start with the threat of a port strike that could have affected the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. But supply chains adapted and moved shipments ahead or shifted some volumes to other ports to avoid disruptions. That may have turned out to be an even better plan than expected when Hurricane Sandy rolled along the eastern seaboard and then turned inland.

Logistics professionals everywhere were doing what they do best. They watched these events develop as they put their own contingency plans into motion and then they responded as events unfolded. The drill has become a bit too common, though there has been little complacency exhibited when disruptive events either occur or fail to materialize.

There are two stories that often go untold or under reported. One is the supply chains that continued to function with little interruption. That only makes exciting headlines within the logistics community. The other is the selfless response in the aftermath of a catastrophic event like Hurricane Sandy.

Companies stepped up and, without expectation of recognition, simply went to work helping the devastated communities recover. Detergent maker Tide’s Loads of Hope trucks provided mobile laundry facilities, Tyson Foods rolled into the disaster zone with a truck to provide hot meals and Coca Cola bottling plants switched to bottling water for delivery to the affected areas.

Many companies continue to provide relief aid to the storm ravaged neighborhoods and, as the holiday season comes and goes, there will be plenty of stories of kindness and generosity.

While it’s impossible to recognize all of those who have helped and continue to help, there is one group I’d like to single out – not because they did any more than anyone else, but because they have volunteered to make relief their job. The needs don’t go away after the storm has passed. The post-Sandy effort will continue long after the holiday season and it will, unfortunately, be joined by other events that require the attention and efforts of the logistics community. So, throughout the year, remember the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) and offer your support. They are there the whole year around, even if they may only get noticed for a few days or weeks at a time. Check them out at www.alanaid.org.

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