Office of Operations Freight Management and Operations

Keeping the Global Supply Chain Moving Video Transcript


Keeping the Global Supply Chain Moving
Speaker Text

Welcome to the global supply chain.

A massive machine that gets things where they're going across the entire planet. It's a sensitive machine, affected by dozens of factors, including weather, congestion, fuel prices, labor costs, and network conditions. Not in months or years, but in days, or hours.

Let's look at an example. This is Justine. She runs a small shoe store in St. Louis. Over the last few years, her knowledge and customer service have earned the loyalty of customers who could buy the same shoes online for less. Justine's shoes come from all over the world.


I don't care how my shoes get here, as long as they get here when I need them.

If my customers can't find shoes here, they'll find them elsewhere.


For the athletic shoes Justine sells, rubber, leather, cotton, plastic, and other materials are shipped from all over the world to a factory in China. Finished shoes travel by truck to Shanghai then cross the Pacific in shipping containers.

The shipping containers are unloaded and a crate of athletic shoes starts a journey by truck to St. Louis where they're delivered to a distributor's warehouse.

When Justine orders more shoes, the distributor ships a dozen boxes across town on a freight service's truck.

Justine also sells high-end orthopedic shoes, designed in Denmark and assembled in Latvia, along with boots made by hand in Montana. Their paths are quite different - but each encounters multiple transportation systems.


Sometimes I'll get a call from a distributor saying my shoes got held up at a port, or that they're sitting on a train track somewhere, waiting to be unloaded.

Sometimes they can't even tell me when I'm going to get them!

What if I just started advertising a sale? I don't have the room or the money to stockpile extra inventory.


Justine's business depends on the transportation systems of 13 states and many countries.

Justine's store isn't the only business that depends on domestic or global lines of supply.

Auto makers, retail stores, power plants, factories, hospitals, gas stations, and many others rely on the global supply chain, and the multimodal transportation network that supports it, to keep the nation's economic engine running.

Janet Kavinoky

A strong and growing US economy requires the safe reliable efficient movement of goods both domestically and internationally.

24 hours a day seven days a week our nation's transportation system moves things like coal and corn all the way to electronics and jewelry.

Today we have just in time delivery. It's an on demand supply chain. So we really rely on an efficient transportation system to get the parts or to get the products where they need to go when a customer wants them. That ultimately helps lower prices and puts dollars back in Americans' pockets. In order to make that supply chain work, it requires close coordination between the public and private sectors.


What happens if the global supply chain slows down, becomes congested or even stops?

Within a very short period of time these impacts are felt locally.

For example within 6 to 12 hours assembly lines will come to a stop, within 24 hours many hospitals will run out of essential supplies; within 48 hours many service stations will run out of fuel; within 72 hours grocery stores will run out of perishables.

Gregory TenEyck
Our stores and our shoppers absolutely depend on an efficient reliable delivery system so that we have fresh fruits and vegetables and groceries in our stores. The US transportation system is critical to a grocery store because of the daily deliveries that we need to keep our stores' shelves stocked so the customers can get all of the products that they need on a daily basis.

It's pretty simple: no shoes, no business.
Bruce Carlton

Our nation's economic competitiveness absolutely depends on a reliable transportation system. You can't have one without the other.

When state and local economic development agencies are developing new projects they need to keep that perspective in mind.

Jeffrey F. Paniati

Today you've heard from the business community about the importance of investment in our national transportation system.

Particularly the movement of freight out on that system and the impact that it has on our economy.

And you've seen what happens when we have an inability to move that freight. The impact it has on our local stores as well as our national companies. At the Federal Highway Administration it's our responsibility to ensure efficient freight movement across that system, and we're working hard to do so.

Our goal is a more efficient highway system and we're working to achieve that goal. At the Federal Highway Administration we are proud to work with states and cities. We are also working hard to engage the private sector to get their opinions and ideas on where we can make investment in the system.

We invite you to join us in this important mission. It is only through working together that we can keep America moving.