tv Washington Journal Patrick Penfield CSPAN October 19, 2021 2:22pm-2:36pm EDT
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on our new mobile video app, access top highlights, listen to c-span radio and discover new pad casts all for free. download c-span now today. joining us now patrick penfield, of syracuse university. a supply chain practice professor here to talk about the delays in the supply chain. professor, thanks for giving us your time this morning. >> good morning. glad to be on the show. >> what's the best way to think about the supply chain particularly with the issues that are currently at play? >> yes, so supply chains are pretty simplistic. input transformation output. unfortunately, it's gotten very complicated over the years. and a lot due to cost reductions and trying to get the lowest cost, the best quality. now we have a global supply chain crisis. problems and issues throughout the various parts of the supply chain. >> what's the biggest problems
that are adding up to the crisis? >> yeah, the big one is shortage of materials, base ingredients, chemicals, semiconductor chips especially. that's caused issues. we have long lead times. they keep getting longer and longer. an example if you were to ship something from china last year it would take 30, 35 days. now it will take roughly 73 days to get here. we have congestion at the ports. right now we have 56 container ships sitting outside the port waiting to be unload. we have a lack of workers so 4.3 million vacancies that we're unable to fill. a lot of people have a lack of warehouse space. we have nowhere to put it once we unload it. >> was part of the problem because of the pandemic or were there issues even before that? >> yeah, we have had some issues, underneath issues with infrastructure, and so it's been something that has been happening, but the pandemic has
definitely been the impetus behind most of our problems right now. i would say the pandemic, weather events and then the cyber security attacks we seem to be having lately. >> relate this to the consumer at home. i know the president talked about the holiday shopping season, people reporting things not on shelves. what's the real worry for the consumer at this point in your mind? >> there are two things, they'll see a loft prices going and the second thing is lack of availability. you'll see some stuff there but not the variety we're accustomed to seeing. the hot things that will be selling will be gone quickly. >> our guest until 10:00 to talk about global supply chains and the issues you're hearing about, if you live in the eastern and
central time zones. you can also text us your thoughts. mr. penfield, was the president himself talking a little bit about at least from the government's point of view how they're resolving this issue. i want to play what he said last weekend and get your response to that. >> after weeks of negotiation and working with my team and with the major union retailers and freight movers, the ports of los angeles -- the port of los angeles announced today that it's going to begin operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. this follows the port of long beach's commitment to 24/7 that it announced weeks ago. 24/7 system, what most of the leading countries in the world already operate on now except us until now. this is the first key step toward moving our entire freight, transportation and
logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system. >> so that's part of the proposal, patrick penfield. how much will that do as far as resolving issues? >> i applaud the president for getting involved and trying to fix the situation we have at the ports. it'll help a little bit. it's not going to resolve our issues and problems and that's because the supply chain is so complex. the help that he is stating, it will give us some relief as far as being able to unload some more ships. the problem is you'll have another bottleneck that will form and that's what the ports are now, a bottleneck. the next bottleneck is once you unload the ships, where do you place it and where are the truck drivers to actually move the freight? that's what will happen with that situation. >> so in moving a 24/7 operations, that exacerbates the problem? >> i think it helps the
unloading of the ships but it will cause other issues because now we have all this inventory sitting there that still has to be moved. and that's common. when you get rid of one bottleneck, another forms. >> how does that work labor wise? manpower? use of technology? how typically does it work to have things unloaded on to ports? >> those two ports aren't very well automated. if i were to state or stress in the future we need to do a better job automating those facilities. right now it's very labor intensive and, again, that's an issue. having the labor there and there's only so much you can work people. 24/7 is a lot of hard work for people on a weekly basis. do they have another labor to support that type of operation. >> if i'm the operator i'm increasing my cost.
>> absolutely. you're probably paying time and a half, double time. it will be more costly to run 24/7 operations. >> when you talk operations, a person talked about it and said this. greater automation is the key to speeding up cargo unloading and vehicle assignments, a major bottleneck in the ship-to-shore process. once on land, smart systems like new cargo handling and transport using hyper loops will go a long way to making the process more green and efficient and saying dedicated high-speed lines and lanes should accompany major highway improvements to close the last mile gap. >> yeah, absolutely in favor of that. that is a necessity to be done in those two ports. long overdue and something that hopefully will happen. it will go a long way to helping the situation. >> what's that technology look
like? >> well, again, this is robotics that you would have this place. automated guided vehicles. if you look at some of the ports, particularly in singapore, you'll see a lot of that technology being employed. >> chuck is in jefferson, georgia for our guest. good morning, go ahead. >> caller: good morning. one of the problems we're having is lack of truck drivers, correct? >> you are absolutely correct. >> caller: well, what i don't understand, a truck driver can get drunk as a skunk on friday night or saturday night and he's allowed to drive on monday morning. but if a guy smokes a little pot on friday night or saturday night, he can't drive. what can we do to solve this problem? i know a lot of people who like to smoke a little joint friday night but then they can't drive.
>> yeah, i think, again, that's an issue outside of this. i think for the most part that's something we want to make sure we protect the public safety. understanding the prepercussions of a situation like that. the reason that's being done is to safeguard the public safety for the most part this is one thing that maybe in the future maybe be they can do more studies to understand this. the best way to get more truck drivers is maybe to lower the age limit from 21 to 18. i think another way to get more truck drivers is to use the military truck drivers to help with the shortage. we've had a truck driver shortage for probably the past 20 years.
when covid hit, we had a lot of truck drivers that retired. we have almost an increased shortage of these truck drivers. let's lower the legal age limit from 21 to 18. maybe that would allow us to move some of the freight faster. >> do you think automation will come into play? >> installing automated truck transport is federal legislation. so right now there is no federal laws that allow autonomous trucks to cross state boundaries. you have laws within states but there's no laws, again, going through the different state-to-state situations. that is what's limiting those autonomous kruks.
>> from olympia, washington, this is elaine. >> caller: i used to work for utility transportation here in washington but i have a question. i have heard that some truckers and their rigs were prohibited from going to the ports because trucks were considered old or the driver wasn't unionized. that's number one. the second one you just brought up, can't the carriers get trip tickets if they're crossing from state line to state line? and is there a prohibition on what they can carry? >> okay, great questions. i know there have been port issues and the port authority in long beach will be more lenient in regards to the types of trucks and the truck drivers that come. the problem has been scheduling and so that's what i've been hearing is that when the truck
drivers aren't there for their particular schedule or time then they're told to leave. so i think we have to be a little more lenient, more focused on getting trucks loaded and out. i would suggest they do that to allow for some leniency when people show up for their times. the second thing, as far as state to state, yeah, you can do that but not with autonomous trucks. every state is different. it's difficult to get those waivers, to be almost impossible to make that happen. those are some of the problems that are, again, impacting the trucking situation. >> mr. penfield, how much of a role do labor unions play in this process? >> yeah, labor unions play a big role. longshoremen, the union is very strong and so that's a concern. are they willing to work with
the port authority to get things done faster. they have their agendas and they're focused on making sure that their union membership is protected, they're safe. there's two sides to this equation but, yeah, absolutely if you don't include them, if you don't have their help, it definitely can be a deterrent to what the port authority is trying to accomplish. the other thing to understand, also, the longshoremen contract in long beach and los angeles is up in july. so this could be a contentious situation. i'm hopeful that longshoremen and the port authority will work together for the common good and looking to automate and make sure the union membership is protected, also. >> we have a viewer who asked if vaccine mandates are partially responsible for disruptions? >> to a certain degree, absolutely. we're seeing different types of opio