Global logistics exec urges industry not to let ‘good crisis go to waste’
Opening the Georgia Logistics Summit, the top supply chain executive of a major food products marketer says the recent West Coast port congestion crisis provides an opportunity for improvement that should not be missed.
Chris Swartz, director of global transportation and logistics services for Sandy Springs, Ga.-based AJC International Inc., in the summit’s opening session today [March 31] at the Georgia World Congress Center, said he does not believe the longtime leading U.S. import gateway of Southern California will be able to accommodate future volumes.
“I don’t think it works,” Swartz said of the gateway formed by the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “I don’t think it’ll be able to handle the load going forward.”
Swartz, a former executive of Sea-Land Service and CSX Corp., said it would be a shame to “let a good crisis go to waste,” however, urging greater collaborative effort among the more than a dozen separate terminals that make up the Southern California containerport complex.
The West Coast crisis also has brought back to the forefront discussion of development of a robust Mexican West Coast port gateway linked by intermodal rail to the U.S. heartland, but, Swartz said, that would require a $400 million to $500 million investment.
“If the U.S. wants to be competitive, they’ve got to be able to handle the larger ships,” Swartz said, adding, referring to the impending completion of Panama Canal expansion, “Maybe this forces the [U.S.] infrastructure to have to pick up.”
Before an Atlanta audience of more than 2,000, Swartz said Georgia serves as a solid role model.
“Georgia and the GPA [Georgia Ports Authority] have kind of set the standard,” Swartz said, noting the successful 18-year cooperative effort to advance Savannah harbor deepening. “Their footprint, their vision, their investment is really a model.”
AJC is a worldwide marketer of poultry and other frozen and refrigerated protein products, with suppliers and customers across more than 140 countries on six continents.
Full summit coverage is to appear in the April 20 edition of the American Journal of Transportation.