January 2022

Capable of transporting tens of thousands of 20-foot-long containers, cargo vessels are truly immense. And they need to be, given the fact that approximately 90% of the world's goods are transported over the ocean, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yet despite their hulking capacity — or perhaps because of — shipping ports in 2021 were plagued by spacing issues that prevented businesses from transporting their products in a timely manner.

Their solution? Instead of sharing and taking up what space was left on container ships, many opted to book their very own.

As chronicled by Supply Chain Dive, several household name corporations chartered bulk vessels as a workaround to the ongoing delays and congestion at major shipping ports. Chartering ships for months at a time is a pricey proposition, fetching upwards of $1 million to $2 million, depending on how long the leases are for. That kind of money is cost-prohibitive for most small and midsize businesses. But for the likes of multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Walmart and other major retailers, it was money well spent by avoiding wasted time.

During an August earnings call, Walmart executives said the company went to these lengths due to stocking issues at several of its locations throughout the country.

"We've chartered vessels ... we've secured capacity for the third and fourth quarter and feel good about the inventory positioning particularly compared to last year with inventory up 20% across the segments," said John Furner, CEO for Walmart U.S.

Coca-Cola was one of several major corporations that chartered ships for more timely delivery.Coca-Cola was one of several major corporations that chartered ships for more timely delivery.

Coca-Cola, Costco and The Home Depot also chartered ships
Another company that chartered its own vessels in 2021 was Coca-Cola. Alan Smith, Coca-Cola's procurement director of global logistics, noted on LinkedIn at the time that the soft drink giant chartered three bulk vessels to haul around 60,000 tons of material.

"[This is a] prime example of excellent collaboration between our procurement teams, our supply chain partners and our suppliers," Smith said, as quoted by Supply Chain Dive.

Home Depot, Costco and Ikea are a few other that chartered container ships at least once in 2021.

Despite ongoing efforts from the federal government and other organizations to clear the bottlenecks, port volume was and remains unrelenting. For instance at the Port of Los Angeles, total volumes in the second quarter of 2020 was 1.03 million TEUs. In 2021 during the same three-month period, it was 1.82 million TEUs. And it can take a number of weeks before vessels can reach port to unload. As of Jan. 4, the wait time was nearly 22 days.

Richard Ungo, director of the Maritime, Ports, and Logistics Institute at Old Dominion University, said such investments can be well worth it for the organizations that have the money to spend. Otherwise, they'd be forced to wait, which ultimately affects the customer and retailers' bottom line.

"Even if they're paying more, they're still not getting the goods on time, Ungo explained. "It makes sense to try to take control of the delivery, and that's why the big companies are taking steps to charter those vessels."

From automobiles to gaming consoles to smartphones and tablets, a tremendous number of consumer technologies rely on semiconductors for products to work as they're designed. But a global shortage of these mission-critical components has created production challenges that are affecting the supply chain and, as a result, the availability of said merchandise. And it appears the semiconductor shortfall will continue for the foreseeable future, according to a newly released report from a leading consultancy.

As reported by Bloomberg, Munich-based firm Roland Berger believes the chip capacity constraints that are plaguing supply chains are poised to persist for the entirety of 2022, if not longer. In the consultancy's view, much of this has to do with chipmakers failing to invest in the resources that can upgrade obsolete semiconductors so they have the capabilities that current technologies require.

Because of this, developers need to optimize some of their production processes, Roland Berger advised. Doing so is especially important for automakers, perhaps more than any other industry that relies on semiconductors.

"Most importantly, carmakers need to speed up the transition to centralized electronic architectures and thereby move to advanced and leading-edge nodes," the consultancy advised, according to Bloomberg.

Assembly lines have had to adjust to the ongoing supply chain challenges.Assembly lines have had to adjust to the ongoing supply chain challenges.

New-car prices have soared
Few industries have felt the ramifications of the chip shortage to the extent that automakers have. In many ways, cars have become oversized personal computers; their safety features, the engine and the transmission all depend on semiconductor technology. And since chips are so hard to come by, inventory levels have dwindled considerably for major nameplates like Toyota, Ford, General Motors and Honda, among others. With demand still intense, supply constraints has pushed prices higher. Indeed according to estimates from vehicle valuation firm Kelley Blue Book, average transaction prices among new-car models jumped 13% in November compared to the corresponding month in 2020. Among non-luxury vehicles, the typical new car sold for $43,144, which was approximately $900 more than the manufacturer's suggested retail price.  

The paucity of semiconductors isn't the only challenge for automakers. The same goes for rubber, resins and several metals. At a recent event in Paris, Alexandre Marian of AlixPartners noted that the limited availability of these raw materials have substantially cut into manufacturers' profits, losing billions in sales, Bloomberg reported.

Titans in the automotive world have experienced supply chain frustrations firsthand. In October, for example, Toyota produced a total of 627,452 vehicles, Forbes reported. That's down from 845,107 a year ago. Sales also slumped on a year-over-year basis, falling 20%.

Stakeholders at Toyota are confident the shortage won't persist for too much longer. Marian of AlixPartners is similarly sanguine on this issue, expecting things to normalize in the second or third quarter of 2023. Steady headwinds, however, could frustrate that timeline, as well as other contributing factors.  

"But it's the tree that's hiding the forest and we'll see other shortages emerging," Marian said.

Much like inflation, the supply chain challenges are not transitory; they're persistent, ongoing and don't appear to be nearing an end in the immediate future. Because of this reality, businesses are responding by thinking outside the box to make the best of the hand they've been dealt.  A reliable strategy that companies are increasingly adopting is strategic stockpiling.

What is strategic stockpiling?
Strategic stockpiling involves the ongoing collection of inventory that are uniquely important to a business in terms of sales or movement of a product. For instance, if a particular type of item or flavor is especially popular with the buying public – as might be the case for a soft drink manufacturer or grocer — that business would need to amass those ingredients to keep up with demand. Strategic stockpiling is a go-to strategy for a number of midsize and large organizations that have the means and overhead to store those essentials on a mass scale.

Instead of business as usual, more organizations are adopting strategic stockpiling as a supply chain solution to the conundrums that they're facing. Indeed, in a recent poll conducted by JPMorgan Chase, nearly two-thirds of midsize companies said they were prioritizing this option as a workaround to their situations, making it the most popular choice for supply chain management, ahead of adding a broader array of global suppliers (51%) and investing more in the logistical arms of their operations. 

At a crossroads, more businesses are turning to strategic stockpiling for supply chain normalcy.At a crossroads, more businesses are turning to strategic stockpiling for supply chain normalcy.

Are any risks involved?
But strategic stockpiling does carry some risk, one of which affects the broader economy. That's because amassing certain raw materials, ingredients or parts can contribute to shortages and a growth in prices. Take what's happening with the cost of food. From eggs to beef to corn, staple products such as these are becoming more and more expensive. Dairy prices are skyrocketing as well. For the week ending Dec. 11, the average price of butter reached over $2 per pound, according to federal data compiled by Global Trade. Nearly a month later, AA butter topped $2.65.

Another risk that comes with strategic stockpiling is if demand suddenly changes. One of the advantages of adopting a just-in-time inventory strategy is businesses don't have to worry about not recouping what they spent on their inventory. Keeping just enough on hand solves that.

But if other supply chain challenges manifest themselves of the kind that prevent businesses from using or selling what they've stockpiled, businesses may not earn back what they spent to build up their inventory of mission-critical goods and ingredients, especially if that inventory is time-sensitive.

The domino effect of supply chain pain frequently winds up affecting the consumer public. In other words, when businesses incur higher costs or profit losses, they offset them by charging more for those seeking their services or products. In a recent survey of chief financial officers done by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 80% of respondents said they had raised their prices.

There is no perfect solution to supply chain frustrations, but strategic stockpiling is an alternative that companies view as their best move in an ever-changing and disruptive environment. 

What is the root cause of the supply chain failures affecting the economy? What is the most effective solution? There are no single answers to such questions, nor will there be a silver bullet that leads to a course correction. But that hasn't prevented stakeholders from offering up some suggestions of what corrective action may yield the best results.

One such suggestion is dramatically increasing how much truckers are paid. Since the driver shortage is so large — and the supply chain's health is so dependent on trucking services — supporters of the move believe raising pay may be the linchpin to getting the supply chain moving smoothly once again.

A staunch advocate for raising wages is former presidential candidate and Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg. Now leading the Department of Transportation, Secretary Buttigieg told attendees of the Transportation Research Board at its annual meeting that what will best encourage Americans to go for their commercial drivers licenses is paying them what they deserve.

"Industry estimates that there's a gap of about 80,000 truck drivers right now relative to what we need, Buttigieg said, as reported by FreightWaves. That number is what the American Trucking Associations believes is necessary to adequately address demand.

Buttigieg further stated that increasing truckers' wages will help with retention, which is another issue facing the industry. In other words, once truckers enter the profession, history has shown that they don't stay. This is why motor carriers need to increase drivers' salaries; it disincentivizes truckers to retire early or seek out other opportunities.

"So we have to make sure that not only are we recruiting people into the field but that it's not a leaky bucket," Buttigieg added. "Rather, we make sure that the working conditions and the compensation reflect the fact that those jobs are absolutely essential."

Is raising truckers' pay the grease that will smooth out the supply chain?Is raising truckers' pay the grease that will smooth out the supply chain?

What makes truckers vital to the supply chain?
Truck drivers are extraordinarily important to the health and success of the supply chain, especially when it comes to the movement, unloading and distribution of containers at the nation's shipping ports. Much like the supply chain, the problems at the ports are multidimensional, but central to their health is distribution and flow. Without enough truck drivers in place, activity grinds to a halt. Increasing the supply of drivers would presumably maximize speed and clear bottlenecks.

Raising driver pay is not a novel idea, nor is this solely a suggestion of Buttigieg's; the Department of Transportation announced Jan. 13 that it is poised to launch a number of initiatives in the coming months that will focus on how trucking can shore up its workforce. The initiatives will also involve studies that analyze the impacts of unpaid detention time in particular on the industry as well as raising truck driver compensation.

Not everyone is aboard with the idea of sweeping compensation increases. This includes leaders of the ATA. This past summer, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello told the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee that raising pay may put employers in a difficult position economically if the economy takes a turn for the worse, FreightWaves reported. This is mainly because the profit margins are minimal due to the expenses of operation and fuel.

With annual revenues valued at north of $2.8 billion, Schneider National is one of the largest logistics and intermodal services companies in the United States, currently the 17th biggest according to estimates from Armstrong & Associates. It's poised to move up that list with the recent acquisition of a mid-size logistics firm that's headquartered in the Buckeye State.

On the last day of 2021, Schneider made its merger with Midwest Logistics Systems official by becoming its majority stakeholder. MLS and its 1,000 drivers won't be leaving the region, considering the 900-truck firm is located in Ohio and Schneider National is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It does have over two dozen offices, though, most of which are in the nation's midsection.

Mark Rourke, president and CEO of Schneider, said the company's dedicated workplace culture and values is what made MLS a shoo-in for Schneider.

"Preserving the MLS identity is essential," said Rourke, per Overdrive magazine. "The carrier's family-owned nature combined with its strong culture and customer service make it a valuable contributor for growing Schneider's dedicated operations."

MLS will remain MLS
All told, the all-cash deal is reportedly worth approximately $263 million. Despite Schneider now holding 100% ownership and equity interest in the Celina-based logistics firm, MLS will reportedly retain its name and will operate as an independent subsidiary of Schneider.

"With this acquisition," Rourke added, "we believe Schneider is on track to generate $1 billion in annual revenue in our dedicated operations with over 5,000 trucks."

In terms of annual gross revenue, Schneider is worth $2.8 billion, according to market research firm Armstrong & Associates, behind Penske Logistics ($3.2 billion) but ahead of NFI Industries ($2.6 billion). The single largest third-party logistics provider in the U.S. is C.H. Robinson, whose revenues amount to nearly $15.5 billion.

Rourke noted that with MLS' annual revenues of $205 million, Schneider's acquisition is expected to boost its positioning in third-party logistics space with little delay.   

Schneider has been in the logistics industry for over 85 years.Schneider has been in the logistics industry for over 85 years.

What is dedicated service?
With the acquisition, Schneider will expanding its dedicated services branch of operational offerings. Dedicated services is the equivalent of having a private fleet, supplying organizations that rely on logistics and delivery with a full suite of the equipment, personnel and assets businesses need to remain competitive in time-sensitive environments. Perhaps in light of the supply chain challenges that have manifested themselves over the past year, more logistics providers appear to be more dedicated to dedicated services. As Transport Dive noted, in an earnings call this past October, the chief executive officer of USA Truck said he expects half of the company's cash flow — meaning both profits and revenue — to derive from dedicated servicing by the end of 2024.

"This is the best environment to make that investment and that shift in," USA Truck CEO James Reed said. "As a result, [customers] are more willing to move long-term commitments into dedicated configurations."

A sure sign that it's the new year are resolutions. From a growth in people hitting the gym in January and February to an uptick in deposits to improve savings, goal setting among the consumer public has a way of making itself known.

But business owners are also making some commitments of their own — particularly to their customers. This past year was one of the more challenging ones for the supply chain. With so many parts that are experiencing shortages and inventories depleted, the items that used to arrive by date certain changed to dates uncertain. This left lots of buyers less than satisfied, some canceling their orders altogether because of the time factor.

If the new year's resolution for your business is to recommit to your clientele and service assurance, here are a few things to be mindful of so you can deliver:

Are you recommitting to your customers in 2022?Are you recommitting to your customers in 2022?

1. Turn to your current workers for hiring help
With so many people looking for jobs, a trend that sparked the "Great Resignation," one would think that applicants would be a dime a dozen. But that hasn't been the case, particularly among small business owners. Indeed, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, approximately one-quarter of small-business owner respondents said filling open positions was their biggest challenge in the month of December.

"The labor shortage is holding back the small business economy as owners work to retain their current employees and attract employees for their open positions," said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for the NFIB. 

He added that one of the ways are encouraging more workers to apply is by raising salaries.

But to find more outsiders, you may want to turn to those who work for the company now. For instance, if you have employees who have been with you for a number of years, they may have friends who are similarly committed to their employers. You may want to ask your more seasoned staff for referrals or offer certain bonuses to them if the people they recommend join the company and remain aboard for a proscribed period.  A key component to strengthening the supply chain is to increase productivity.

2. Don't make promises you can't keep
When you say that your customers' satisfaction is guaranteed, they're 100% relying on you coming through for them. But if you know you can't, or even so much as question it, it's best to table those assurances. Instead, you may want to provide notices about what's going on with the supply chain so you can better establish and align your customers' expectations. That kind of openness can be effective because they have more context of the situation you're facing.

3. Refine your processes
"Satisfaction guaranteed" isn't something that you say willy-nilly; when you invoke it, you have to know you can deliver because you've mastered a certain process or product. Thus, before you make such a promise, be sure that you have mastered whatever it is you're promising and have a track record of excellence. And in the event satisfaction isn't reached, be sure to come through on what they'll receive, whether that's their money back, a discount on a future purchase or any other commitment.

Here's to making and keeping your commitments to your customers in 2022. You may not be able to please everyone all of the time, but showing your workers that you're really trying will pay off. 

The new year is a time to look ahead and to reflect on where we've come from. And when it comes to the supply chain, it's been every which way but linear. The supply chain's challenges are years old as are the attempted solutions. One of the more recent strategies involved making the nation's two largest ports — those of Los Angeles and Long Beach — 24 hours a day, seven days a week operations. This directive came straight from the White House. In doing so, it provided an additional 60 hours of work to free up the backlog.

Nearly three months since this policy was enacted — and more than a year since COVID-19 largely fueled the supply chain issues in the first place, it raises the question: Have conditions improved? While no one denies that snags continue to exist and the remedies aren't working as quickly as everyone would like, things do appear to be getting better. Here are a few indications that the nation's supply chain is gaining strength:

1. 90% on-shelf availability
From grocery stores to delicatessens, products that are true staples of a business have been temporarily unavailable. But according to President Joe Biden, at a year-end meeting of his Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, "temporary" is the keyword when it comes to merchandise. The current average for products at retailers in 90%. Before the pandemic struck, on-shelf availability was 91%.

Data from the White House suggests the supply chain is showing many signs of improvement.Data from the White House suggests the supply chain is showing many signs of improvement.

2. Dwell times cut in half
A core component to improving the flow of goods and uncorking the bottleneck at shipping ports is speeding up the processes that are occurring there. A combination of carrots and sticks from the port authority and the 24/7 policy seems to be paying dividends. John Porcari, who serves as the port envoy for the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, told Pres. Biden on Dec. 22 that shipping containers are being unloaded and removed from stations much more swiftly. Dwell times now average approximately four days at the Port of Los Angeles. In October, when the task force was first formed, the average was nine days.

At the Port of Long Beach, the wait is slightly longer (five days) but the reduction in dwell time more significant, being down from 12 days.

3. Dip in backlogs
A major concern among both consumers as well as business owners heading into the holiday season was whether gift items would show up before Christmas, a worry fueled by diminished productivity and heavy demand. Here as well, though, backlogs aren't as deep as they used to be. Indeed, according to the Institute for Supply Management, the backlog of orders index in November reached 61.9. That's a marked recovery from 70.6, a record high in May 2021.

4. Ocean shipping prices down 25%
A major trading partner with the United States is not only China, but much of the Asian continent. Higher shipping rates have been passed on to consumers. Those costs are coming down, though. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki informed reporters that containers are now 25% less than what they were in September.

Based on these numbers from the government, 2022 is shaping up to be a year of improvement for the supply chain and the world economy as a whole. 

COVID-19 is a confusing, inconsistent virus. For those that contract the disease, the symptoms can be quite severe; for others, there are next to no physical manifestations to speak of. The efforts to control the contagion — and the best practice recommendations from medical organizations — have also been somewhat inconsistent, given the dynamic nature of a novel virus.

But what COVID has helped to clarify are the weaknesses and fragility of the global supply chain. Because virtually every country was — and continues to be — affected by the coronavirus, business owners have had to wait to receive key materials from other parts of the world to complete production processes. Demand has therefore vastly outpaced supply. This predicament helps explain why close to 85% of manufacturers say they plan on reshoring at least some of their operations in the coming years, according to a poll conducted by Thomas in early 2021. However, even before COVID-19 struck, thousands of companies decided to bring the jobs that they had outsourced back to the United States. And in 2020, reshoring activity rose considerably, with over 160,000 jobs moving to the U.S. according to the Reshoring Initiative.

All this being said, there may still be some utility in the status quo, assuming offshoring is what you're doing now. Here are a few reasons why you may want to hold the line as it pertains to your supply chain and where your parts, assembly or processes currently derive:

1. Helps reduce expenses for the business
Perhaps the biggest, most obvious positive to outsourcing is from a cost perspective. As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money and production expenses can be considerable when adding them all up, from overhead, to labor and more. But according to the International Organization for Standardization, the typical business owners saves, on average, 15% by outsourcing.

Outsourcing may be out of vogue but sticking with it may be in your best business interest.Outsourcing may be out of vogue but sticking with it may be in your best business interest.

Staunch advocates of reshoring say outsourcing winds up taking job opportunities away from Americans. But as the Congressional Research Service has discussed in a research paper, there is little in the way of conclusive evidence showing that domestic investment leads to reduced work opportunities or lower salaries.

2. Efficiency
Another potential advantage of outsourcing is in terms of work efficiency. Depending on your industry and what processes are occurring overseas, it may make more sense for those activities to take place there, where certain raw materials or expertise could be in greater supply.

In some instances, the geography or climate of the area is such that the activity or deliverable can't be done anywhere else. To take an agricultural example, this explains why a number of fruits and vegetables come from places like Florida or California, which has the warm climate that foods like oranges, grapefruits and avocados need to thrive.

3. Common among small businesses
Some are of the mind that outsourcing is solely the province of large corporations. But it's very common among small businesses as well. Indeed, according to a new report from research firm Clutch, 80% plan to outsource in 2021, if they aren't already.

None of this is to say that outsourcing is necessarily or always better than reshoring or nearshoring. But if it's working for you and your supply chain now, it may be best to avoiding fixing what isn't broken.

Much like parents do to their young children, the Port of Los Angeles is reminding ocean carriers to be sure to pick up their belongings once they're no longer used — or there will be consequences. But in this case, those belongings are empty shipping containers and the consequences will come in the form of $100 fines.

Effective starting on Jan. 30, the Port of Los Angeles says it will charge ocean carriers that are delinquent in retrieving empty containers at area unloading locations. That's according to a press statement from the port authority that was unveiled on the penultimate day of 2021. Assuming the penalty is approved by the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, the fees will start at $100 per container if they've been there for nine days. The penalty will then increase by an additional $100 for each day that they remain uncollected.

Gene Steroka, the executive director at the Port of Los Angeles, noted that although congestion levels have gone down, simple actions — like being mindful of other users' needs — can help to reduce bottlenecks more swiftly.

"While we have seen significant success reducing import containers on our docks the past two months, too many empty containers are currently sitting on marine terminals," Steroka said. "Just like the import dwell fee, the objective with this empty container program is not to collect fees but to free up valuable space on our docks, clearing the way for more ships and improving fluidity."

" A number of strategies are improving the flow of goods coming into shipping ports."

Lawmakers, business owners and supply chain stakeholders have gone to a number of different strategies to improve the flow of goods coming into shipping ports. This includes keeping the nation's largest trade ports (Los Angeles and Long Beach) open 24 hours a day, imposing dwell fees, productivity-related incentives and leveraging real-time data to identify supply chain inefficiencies.

Container dwell times are down substantially
These remedies seem to be working. Indeed, the dwell time for import containers has diminished across the board, down 42% for containers dwelling between zero and four days, 44% five to eight days and 52% for containers dwelling for nine days or more.

The waiving of traffic mitigation fees on weekend also appears to have had its intended effect, as traffic has picked up during hours that typically aren't as busy.

That being said, the amount of time vessels are idling remains considerable. According to the most recent estimates from the Port of Los Angeles time tracker, the current average is 23.4 days. Some vessels have been waiting for much longer than that, including 40 for the Navios Amarillo (arrived Nov. 27) and 44 days for the Ren Jian 27 (arrived Nov. 23).

Overall import volumes have trended downward fairly consistently, suggesting that demand may have finally reached its peak. This is part of the reason why some economists and logistics firms are optimistic about the supply chain flows improving in the second half of 2022, assuming the trends continue.

When it comes to the supply chain and how it performed, 2021 was a year that few will ever forget — and unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. From product shortages in grocers' back rooms to congested shipping ports creating severe backorders, just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

With a brand new year underway and the promise that a fresh start engenders, business owners can't help but wonder: What will the supply chain be like in 2022? Here's what the experts are saying about what to anticipate.

1. Challenges will persist
The supply chain problems didn't happen overnight; they won't resolve themselves that quickly either. Kevin Beasley, chief information officer for a prominent cloud solutions provider, noted in Forbes that some of the more highly used materials — such as paper and plastic — are in short supply. This fact will have a domino-like effect on the availability of other merchandise because those materials are needed for manufacturing. Combining this reality with industry struggles to fill open positions — particularly in the manufacturing and warehousing space — translates to "continued order delays, supply shortages and potential unhappy distributors, retailers and consumers."

2. Automation to pick up the slack
Because of workplace shortages, automation is poised to expand. Beasley said 2021 saw a dramatic rise in automation technology implementation, particularly in warehousing environments. Combining artificial intelligence with automation is a cost-effective way for companies to accomplish certain rote tasks that don't require much in the way of thought, such as stocking and inventory counts.

Factories and warehouses have increased their utilization of automation and artificial intelligence.Factories and warehouses have increased their utilization of automation and artificial intelligence.

3. Supply chain kinks could clear in the back half of 2022
While the first several months of 2022 will feel like history repeating itself in terms of the supply chain's overall performance, disruptions could dissipate as the year progresses. In a report published in December, trade credit insurer Euler Hermes said a combination of factors point to a healthier supply chain in the second half of 2022, according to CNBC. These factors include a more normalized rate of consumption (the report suggests demand has reached its peak), inventories returning to where they were prior to the pandemic and shipping vessels being able to transport more goods than they do currently thanks to increased capacity.

"The rapidly growing new transportation capacity orders … should turn operational towards the end of 2022, which should significantly ease shipping bottlenecks," CNBC cited from the Euler Hermes supply chain forecast.

However, it's worth noting that certain economists believe the supply chain challenges will remain constant for the entirety of 2022. Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of the tech giant Intel, has said as much, particularly as it pertains to the availability of computer chips.

4. More regular use of data to guide decisions
From key performance indicators to customer feedback from online reviews, data comes in all forms and formats and provides the visibility businesses need to see how things are going. Agnes Schliebitz-Ponthus, senior vice president of product at Fluent Commerce, said she anticipates companies will double down on data so they can keep their supply chains running smoothly, IndustryWeek reported.


Both consistent and chaotic, 2021 was as strange as years come. Whether or not this is the year COVID-19 finally ends, 2022 should be an eventful year for Accounts Payable professionals who embrace change and think ahead.

Supporting a Hybrid Workforce

It should be obvious by this point that “business as usual” is never coming back. The number of full and part-time remote employees has risen steadily over the last decade and, with COVID-19 still raging, it looks like there’s no turning back. 80% of workers between the ages of 22 and 65 expect to work at least three days from home this year and their numbers should grow as the years go on. In fact, Future Workforce predicts we’ll see the remote workforce double in size by 2025.

It’s more crucial than ever for businesses to employ cloud-based AP solutions that connect their teams to a central source of information, wherever they are. Though digitization is nothing new in AP, 2022 should be the year that even laggards recognize the transformative powers of tech.

AI and Machine Learning Make a Real Impact

For over a decade now, each New Year has presented AP professionals with new reminders that game-changing technologies are on their way. 2022 could prove an important year for many, the year terms like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence finally evolve from buzzwords into core components of daily business. Process automation has become far more than a luxury and now these more advanced technological capabilities are here to stay as well.

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities are at the heart of Corcentric’s Core Framework, the foundation of our modular S2P and O2C solutions. They not only ensure that Procurement, Finance, and AP teams are ready to overcome obstacles today, but prepare customers to keep getting better and better.

AP Fights for a Seat at the Table

In their most recent “Metrics That Matter” report, Ardent Partners identifies four primary challenges facing Accounts Payable professionals. Three are obvious, and directly related to manual processes and subpar solutions:

       60% of surveyed organizations say their invoice and payment approval process takes too long

       48% are dealing with too many exceptions

       31% are buried by the tedium and waste of their paper-bound processes 

The fourth challenge has more to do with AP’s place within the organization than its day-to-day concerns. 33% of the AP professionals Ardent Partners surveyed reported that a lack of respect and status within the organization holds them back. Fortunately, the same solutions that help address those other challenges can, by extension, help AP elevate its role and stake its claim to a seat at the executive table. With fewer papers to sort through and manual processes to carry out, AP can feel empowered to adopt a new role and begin advising the organization from a more high-impact, strategic perspective.

Many organizations can’t wait for AP to step up. New supply chain disruptions brought by the ongoing pandemic mean protracted processes and fraught supplier relationships. An empowered, tech-enabled AP function is equipped to address these challenges and help build a more resilient and adaptable business.

Transform AP in 2022

Corcentric customers are well prepared for whatever the weeks and months ahead bring their teams. When organizations trust Corcentric to digitize and optimize AP, they can:

       Eliminate 100% of paper from AP’s processes

       Process invoices up to 70% faster thanks to fewer manual tasks

       Reduce the cost of processing invoices by as much 80%

Corcentric’s solutions are constantly improving to suit the needs and address the challenges of today’s leading businesses. Contact Corcentric to learn more about how our solutions for AP and Finance can empower you to tackle both familiar and unexpected challenges in 2022 and beyond.

A very brief history of 911:

In the United States, the first 911 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama in 1968 by Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite and answered by U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill. The second call was six days later and was placed in Nome Alaska!

Since the 1960’s NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has supported public safety efforts to connect emergency services and communities. In the 1970’s, AT&T spearheaded the sophistication of the 911 calling system to work in all 50 states.

Our 911 system is not 100% government funded. As of August 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced more than 109 Million dollars in grants was dispersed to 34 states and two tribal nations as part of the 911 Grant Program for the upgrade of 911 call centers to the next generation of capabilities (NG911). For additional information on the history and growth of the 911 system please visit 911.gov.

When 911 was created with a simple goal - easy-access:

  • Connect callers via 9-1-1 (3-digit dial or touchtone button pressing)
  • Termination at the correct Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)

The information transmission needed to include call back information:

  • Automatic Location Information (ALI)
  • Automated Number Identification (ANI)

Effective on-site Notification and Response:

  • Procedures to facilitate first responders reaching caller
  • Management of on-site Private Emergency Answering Point (PEAP)

We have grown with technology since the 1960’s – these advancements with mobile phone, VOIP/SIP phone systems, Fiber Optic connections between buildings and states created a problem for sending and receiving accurate ALI and ANI; dispatching help can be a nightmare.

Roughly 8 years ago, I called 911 from my cell phone – a car on the side of the highway was on fire, a person was injured. My cell phone area code is 973 (N.J.), I was in Florida off I275… I was transferred 3X before landing with the correct police 911 to have help dispatched.

What is the real problem? – wireless devices

911 system does not have access to the internet or Wi-Fi (like UBER works to connect to your mobile device location).

The deadline for the mobile carriers to be 80% compliant is January 6, 2022. According to FCC.Gov The FCC's wireless Enhanced 911 (E911) rules seek to improve the effectiveness and reliability of wireless 911 services by providing 911 dispatchers with additional information on wireless 911 calls. The FCC's wireless E911 rules apply to all wireless licensees, broadband Personal Communications Service (PCS) licensees, and certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees.

The FCC has divided its wireless E911 program into two parts - Phase I and Phase II. Under Phase I, the FCC requires carriers, within six months of a valid request by a local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), to provide the PSAP with the telephone number of the originator of a wireless 911 call and the location of the cell site or base station transmitting the call.

Under Phase II, the FCC requires wireless carriers, within six months of a valid request by a PSAP, to begin providing information that is more precise to PSAPs, specifically, the latitude and longitude of the caller. This information must meet FCC accuracy standards, generally to within 50 to 300 meters, depending on the type of technology used. The deployment of E911 requires the development of new technologies and upgrades to local 911 PSAPs, as well as coordination among public safety agencies, wireless carriers, technology vendors, equipment manufacturers, and local wireline carriers.

Below is a more common than reported/exposed scenario

From the Washington Post… February 22, 2020

Yeming Shen called 911 on Feb. 10. He was alone in his Troy, N.Y., apartment, dying of the flu. But the garbled call was unintelligible to the operators, and police couldn’t pinpoint the phone’s location.

For 45 minutes after Shen called 911, five police officers, three firefighters and a police dog searched in vain for the student. All they had was a general area encompassing two apartment buildings. They eventually gave up without finding Shen.

Six hours later, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student’s roommate discovered his body, the Times Union first  reported.

The case highlights issues that have plagued 911 phone systems across the country since the advent of smartphones. Cellphone privacy settings and outdated dispatch mapping systems continue to frustrate first responders when they can’t find callers.

Where does E911 and Mobility today?

The answer – in progress…there are many cracks to still be filled for smooth working system.
  • Not every user has a mobile device that is ALI and ANI compatible
  • Not every call center is fully e911 compatible
  • Cellular dead zones still exit
  • 80% required compliancy, isn’t 100% available

* I recently attended a webinar from LB3&TC2 and some of content provided in this post is thanks to their presentation.

If you have Wireless/Mobility Sourcing questions, or questions about any blog post from Corcentric please reach out, we would be happy to chat with you.

One of the largest and longest-running shipping companies in the world is about to get a whole lot bigger with the recent acquisition of an omnichannel fulfillment organization.

Maersk, otherwise known as A.P. Moller Maersk A/S, is joining forces with LF Logistics Holding Limited, the Danish shipping supplier and provider announced in a company press release. Headquartered in Hong Kong, LF Logistics is a privately held business that specializes in providing contract logistics to customers primarily in the Asia-Pacific region and is a subsidiary of Li & Fung. Partnered with Li & Fung, the goal is for Maersk to expand its logistics solutions capabilities for more global, end-to-end supply chain capabilities that customers can leverage.

Spencer Fung, who serves as group executive chairperson at Li & Fung, noted that the pairing is a watershed moment for both organizations and will help to make supply chain optimization a reality for other businesses in various industries.

"With Li & Fung's upstream digital and sourcing expertise and Maersk's downstream logistics capabilities, we will begin to offer our respective customers the opportunity to take advantage of this unique end-to-end value chain proposition anchored upon operations excellence, technology, and sustainability," Fung explained.

$3.5 billion deal not yet final
The deal is reportedly worth over $3.5 billion (all cash) and will make Maersk the 100% stakeholder in LF Logistics. However, once the deal becomes official — slated to occur in 2022 upon regulatory approval — Li & Fung will reacquire LF Logistics, but only its global freight management division. Maersk may change its company name, but until then, it will remain Maersk and LF Logistics will continue to operate on its own.

Vincent Clerc, chief executive officer of ocean and logistics at Maersk, said he is eager for the deal to be finalized.

"We are excited, and we look forward to strengthening our global logistics business and welcoming 10,000 new logistics experts from a customer-centric culture with well-executed operations," Clerc said in a statement. " With the intended acquisition of LF Logistics, we will bring in an extensive warehousing network covering the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets; all underpinned by a best-in-class operational and technology platform which we can scale globally across our network."

Maersk to become 7th largest logistics provider
From a sheer dollar perspective, it's among the biggest that Maersk has made in its storied history. But it's also stretching its physical footprint, which is expansive as it is. Indeed, Makersk is poised to become the seventh largest contract logistics provider in the world by acquiring 10,000 employees who work for LF Logistics and its 223 warehouses in more than a dozen countries, Supply Chain Dive reported. At present, Maersk Group has 76,000 employees in 130 nations. The acquisition makes for newly charted territory for Maersk.

M&As have been business as usual for Maersk Group. In 2019, it acquired customs broker Vandegrift and in 2020, Maersk purchased Performance Team and KGH Customs Services for $545 million and $281 million, respectively.


Telecommunication technology has significantly changed the communication landscape for deaf and hearing impaired (HOH – Hard of Hearing) individuals. For more than 40 years, text telephones (TTY) and amplified phones were their only options. Today, videophones, Smartphones, and instant messaging most often replace the TTY as preferred communication tools.

Roughly 600,000 people in the United States are “functionally” deaf according to Gallaudet.edu.  I, myself, am not classified but am 100% deaf in my right ear and have severe hearing loss in my left from contracting a virus 6 years ago.  The creation of this blog post is to share general information and to review practical applications.

The TTY (TeleTYpe), TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf), and TT (Text Telephone) acronyms are used interchangeably to refer to any type of text-based telecommunications equipment used by a person who does not have enough functional hearing to understand speech, even with amplification.

In 1964, Robert Weitbrecht, a deaf electronic scientist, developed an acoustic coupler that converted sounds into text. Signals received by a standard telephone handset placed on a coupler were translated into a printed text message by the teletype machine. A flashing light alerted the deaf person receiving a call that the phone was ringing. Access to this telecommunications device, also called a "TTY" or "TDD," meant deaf people could place a phone call to a friend, a club, or anyone who also had a TTY. Before TTYs, deaf people had to go in person to see if friends were home, make appointments, or do any of the things hearing people did effortlessly by phone. For deaf people, TTYs became a tool for change.

Like today’s cellular texting there are “short cuts” … TTY technology use this method starting back in the 1970’s.  For ex: “GA” – “Go ahead” or “It’s your turn” because the system worked over pots lines and two-way simultaneous communication was not available.
Fast forward to today:
With cellular units and texting communication accessibility combined with visual communication for the deaf and hard of hearing has become easier.  With programs such as WhatsApp - lip reading is possible however, according to the NDC – National Deaf Center, only about 30% of English speak sounds are visible under the best of conditions in the best environments with no visual distractions.
  • Open Market Video Calling Software: Due to the user restrictions placed on videophones, deaf and hearing individuals often use Skype, FaceTime, Fuze along with a myriad other video calling software applications available to converse in real time.
  • Open Market Texting Software: In addition to taking advantage of current mobile phone texting capabilities, sign language users are increasingly using software programs such as YouTube and Glide to “text” messages in sign language.
911 (United States and Canada) – texting is advancing with E911- location services attached to the number called from.  This system isn’t 100% perfect within the United States and location identification is not available in all areas.

Did you know???
999 began in 1937 and today is available in 25 countries (unfortunately the United States is NOT included) – For the deaf and hearing impaired this has evolved into a texting emergency services for registered cellular units and TTY connected units.

Countries and territories using 999 include:
Telecommunication has progressed by leaps and bounds during the past 40 years but there is a long way to go for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Corcentric specializes in supporting telecommunication connectivity for the healthcare and manufacturing amongst other industries. These two niche sectors combined with telecommunication carrier and cloud-based application providers open the world of communication for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired individuals, communities, and businesses.