Supply Chain Expert Robert Handfield on the Nation’s Current Supply Chain Crisis and How It Should be Addressed

BALTIMORE, MD, November 17, 2021 – New audio is available for media use featuring supply chain expert Robert Handfield on the nation’s current supply chain crisis and the actions that need to be taken to address it. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. All sound should be attributed to Robert Handfield. He is the executive director of supply chain resource cooperative, and he’s the Bank of America University distinguished professor of operations and supply chain management at North Carolina State University. There are 4 questions and responses. These responses were provided on November 12, 2021:


Question 1: What are the major contributing factors to the current supply chain crisis in America? 

Time Cue: 00:40, Soundbite Duration: 00:35

Transcription: “The factors that are really contributing here is a combination of different things. First of all, it’s the COVID-19 cases that have stopped production in manufacturing and imports, a lot of energy disruptions especially in terms of manufacturing hubs around the world, labor shortages here in the U.S., lack of capital infrastructure investment in the semiconductor industry, and some huge bottlenecks in terms of transportation resources, a lack of containers, ships, and trucks. And when you put surges in consumer demand on top of that, it’s a really bad situation.”


Question 2: What are the common myths or assumptions about the supply chain crisis that need to be dispelled?

Time Cue: 01:24, Soundbite Duration: 00:39

Transcription: “Well the first is that we can replace drivers with automated trucks. Automated trucks are not a possibility. The second myth is that we can move supply chains from China to the U.S. That’s going to take a lot of time. People also think we have lots of production capacity to meet global demand. We’re actually short on capacity, especially in semiconductors. We can’t solve the port problems by having them operate 24/7 in L.A. They’re already operating 24/7. And the last myth I would say is you need to start ordering for Christmas or could wait until the last minute. Don’t wait. Start doing it now.”


Question 3: What are the most immediate actions that should be taken to alleviate the crisis?

Time Cue: 02:09, Soundbite Duration: 00:33

Transcription: “In the short term we’re not going to be able to alleviate the crisis. I think it’s likely to go until 2022. In the longer term, we need to digitalize the Los Angeles-Long Beach Port. That means connecting the inbound containers coming in from the ocean to the hinterland resources such as trucks and trains, and to coordinate the scheduling of these different resources to alleviate the bottleneck at this major port. The L.A. port takes in 40% of the imports in the United States.”


Question 4: How would you describe the long-term actions that need to be taken to prevent future supply chain crises?

Time Cue: 02:48, Soundbite Duration: 00:29

Transcription: “Well I think the global supply chain and especially our transportation resources infrastructure is a national treasure. It’s something that we need to nurture and grow. I think there’s a role for the federal government to develop standards, to develop the digital infrastructure to be able to better coordinate and develop the resources to make the supply chain smoother. Longer term, I think we’ll need to start building some of these products closer to home instead of mainland China.

Supply Chain Expert Robert Handfield on the Nation’s Current Supply Chain Crisis and How It Should be Addressed

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