Research Center for Critical Supply Chain Issues

The RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, Calif.) has created a research center to help the public and private sectors more effectively deal with some of the key challenges confronting worldwide freight transportation, said RAND president and CEO James A. Thomson.

“The RAND Supply Chain Policy Center will examine the critical issues facing thetransportation and global logistics industries as companies work to move goods by land, sea and air in an increasingly complex global economy,” Thomson said.
Martin Wachs will serve as director of the RAND Supply Chain Policy Center, which will employ the expertise of researchers based at RAND headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., as well as offices in: Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh, and Cambridge, U.K. Wachs is director of the RAND Transportation, Space and Technology Program.

Before joining RAND last year, Wachs was professor of civil and environmental engineering and city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He was director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at Berkeley for six years. He previously spent 25 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served three terms as chairman of the Department of Urban Planning.

“Nearly everything we use and consume comes to us from somewhere else – whether from across town, across the country or across the world,” Wachs said. “The prices and availability of all these items depends on how quickly, efficiently, safely and cheaply businesses can move them through the supply chain that connects fields and factories to stores in communities around the world.”

The growth in international trade is overwhelming intermodal freight capacity, Wachs said. Congestion at critical ports, borders and urban areas is slowing the flow of freight throughout North America and other major gateway locations worldwide, he added.

Speeding the flow of goods through the supply chain is a difficult task, further complicated by labor shortages, security concerns and safety and environmental issues like noise and air pollution, Wachs said.

The RAND Supply Chain Center is a member-sponsored research initiative, with the executive committee of sponsors directing the center’s agenda. The center’s founding partners include The Dow Chemical Company, the Port of Los Angeles and The UPS Foundation.

“As the world's largest chemical manufacturer, Dow Chemical depends on a complex, global supply chain,” said Dow Global Director for Infrastructure Cindy Elliott. “The sustainability of not only our company, but the global economy, depends on the efficient, secure, and reliable flow of goods notwithstanding ever-increasing demands on the world's transportation infrastructure. We are honored to partner with RAND in the formation of the Supply Chain Policy Center to help advance sound public policy to ensure such a sustainable future."

“As a port that is leading the industry in sustainable ‘green growth’ strategies, we see our member affiliation with the RAND Supply Chain Policy Center as a win-win opportunity for the RAND Corporation and the Port of Los Angeles,” said Geraldine Knatz, executive director of the nation’s largest container port. “From an industry standpoint, the Port of Los Angeles can offer RAND a broad depth of understanding about the toughest issues facing maritime trade and goods movement. In turn, RAND can conduct research that will probe for the most meaningful solutions to the biggest challenges we face.”

“Giving back to the communities is an important part of UPS’s nearly 100 year-old culture that’s embraced by our employees through volunteering, making donations and sharing their unique skill sets,” said Lisa Hamilton, president of the UPS Foundation. “As a global leader in supply chain services, we’re proud to be a founding partner in the Supply Chain Policy Center.”

The RAND Supply Chain Policy Center’s research topics will include examination of:

  • Infrastructure finance. With funds from sources like motor fuels taxes on the decline, how can government and businesses pay for the critical investment in new roads, and better and more secure air and sea ports?
  • Rail capacity needs. What is the actual rail capacity in North America? Where are the key bottlenecks? Where should future rail investment go?
  • Mitigating highway congestion. Can options like congestion tolls, expanding general purpose highway lanes and truck-only toll lanes ease congestion for the trucking industry as well as the traveling public?
  • Supply chain risk analysis. Examining “what if” scenarios such as a disaster or terrorist strike causing a major port complex to shut down, disrupting freight flow patterns and causing severe shortages of critical goods and supplies.

    Source: RAND Corp.
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