Opinion: We’re All in It Together
By Joel Anderson
International Warehouse Logistics Association
This Opinion piece appears in the March 26 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
It has become something of a cliché that what followed the economic deregulation of trucking in the early 1980s was even more regulation, albeit in different forms.
The readers of this newspaper are well aware of the many burdens that have been placed on trucking and other parts of the supply chain in the form of new hours-of-service rules, antiterrorism security measures and “green” fuel laws and restrictions. But readers primarily involved in hauling may not be aware of the full extent to which the mushrooming growth of regulation in other parts of the supply chain has affected all of us.
Here is what happens: Congress reacts to the latest news stories by passing more laws, and the bureaucracy reacts to that by writing new regulations to implement those new laws — and by finding ways to shift resources to enforcement in the new target areas. So even though neither the trucker nor the warehouseman had anything to do with impurities in the supply chain that originated elsewhere — think E. coli in lettuce or foreign substances in over-the-counter drugs — the resulting laws affect every part of the supply chain, trucking and warehousing included.
Complicating things even more, it is common these days for trucking companies to perform warehousing services, while many warehouses operate truck fleets — with both offering many of the same services. Sometimes, the only way you can tell the difference between a trucking concern and a warehouse operation is by looking at the company histories on their websites. In reality, both are asset-based third-party logistics providers.
Unfortunately, in their haste to target issues of public concern, lawmakers and bureaucrats forget the years of written law and legal precedent that have built up around the practice of logistics, and all too few of them even know how the supply chain functions in sourcing and delivering products to the customer.
These officials react to situations by developing solutions with minimal input from the industries whose work is being regulated. And they also fail to take into account that truckers and other supply-chain partners are offering solutions to time and distance problems for many different businesses, both foreign and domestic.
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