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Logistics legislation discussion, supply chain collaboration highlight first day of supply chain conference

drewfergusonsmc19-new_0During the opening day of the Jump Start supply chain conference, panelists discussed transportation infrastructure, logistics collaboration and the ever-present trucking capacity crunch. The more than 550 attendees included shippers, 3PLs, carriers and technology providers who assembled to explore the latest trends in supply chain visibility and AI’s expanding role in the industry, among other topics.

Infrastructure legislation is a priority for the new Congress, but finding a way to pay for it might be a bit tricky, Congressman Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., told the Jump Start 2019 crowd on the first morning of the three-day supply chain conference.

“In Congress right now … there is a sense of urgency about funding our nation’s infrastructure,” he said. “Know there is a sense of urgency. Know there is a willingness from the White House.”

The question is never whether we should invest in infrastructure, it’s about how to do it and when. One of the revenue-generating proposals being kicked around is a vehicle-miles-traveled tax. Ferguson insisted that a VMT implementation would likely only cover commercial vehicles.

So why hasn’t a transportation bill come to fruition so far?

“There seemed to be a lot of different things that kept bumping the priority out,” Ferguson said.

In the midst of trying to get an infrastructure bill together and through Congress, logistics stakeholders at every level of the supply chain are dealing with a year ahead that might be a little bit bumpy. Linda Fonkoue, global supply base manager of logistics at John Deere, told the conference audience that there are a lot of unknowns globally and domestically. “2019 presents a lot of uncertainties because of the current economic and geopolitical issues,” she said.

Fonkoue advocated for collaboration in confronting supply chain issues. Stakeholders, she said, should come together to speak with one unified voice.

During a panel with the winners of the Alliance Award, a designation that celebrates logistics collaboration, Julie Thurston of Unyson Logistics told the audience about the company’s collaboration with Big Lots and Rail Delivery Services. Thurston said there was a bit of a learning curve for the shipper with the new collaboration, but once Big Lots saw the benefit of their collaboration, they knew any initial hiccups were worth the trouble.

The first day of Jump Start 2019 also concerned potential technology disruptions. While artificial intelligence in transportation is still a far away dream, Susan Etlinger of the Altimeter Group discussed the ins and outs of AI with the Jump Start group, noting that the future isn’t too distant. “This is a real thing,” she said of AI. “Yes, it’s hyped, but it is increasingly shaping our reality.”

Etlinger predicted that AI will be pervasive in everyday business and personal interactions within the next decade.

“All of us are dealing with it, and we’re really at the beginning,” she said.

Day One Media Coverage:

The three-day Jump Start 2019 supply chain conference facilitates meaningful knowledge transfer and collaboration between logistics and transportation professionals from carrier, shipper, logistics service provider and technology verticals. To learn more about SMC³ supply chain conferences, visit


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Categories: Education, Supply Chain