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Suggested Citation:"Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Freight Transportation Resilience in Response to Supply Chain Disruptions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25463.
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Page 125

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125 GUIDANCE FOR STAKEHOLDERS TO MITIGATE AND ADAPT TO DISRUPTIONS TO SUPPLY CHAINS INTRODUCTION Headlines throughout the world often highlight one of the new realities of today’s world—extreme weather is affecting the performance of the nation’s transportation system. Such nature-related disruptions are not new, but the frequency and magnitude of weather events continue to set records each year. In addition, several well-publicized terrorist and cyberattacks against transportation agencies and firms over the past several years illustrate how vulnerable the owners and operators of transportation systems are to man-made disruptions. Given the intermodally connected nature of the transportation system, disruptions to one part of a network often have a domino effect across the entire modal network and ultimately to the much broader transportation system. In addition, the cascading effects of transportation disruptions to other sectors such as public health, agriculture, and social services can create serious consequences beyond just the transportation sector. A range of economic activities (e.g., manufacturing) depend on this freight transportation system to supply needed resources and to distribute final products along a supply chain that often crosses continents and oceans, includes a multitude of stakeholders and is dependent on many different entities for the infrastructure and services needed to complete the necessary transactions. Disruptions and their aftermath can have serious implications for both public agencies and firms. For public agencies, expeditious supply chain recovery means the companies and households that depend on the delivery of goods will receive what they need to continue functioning. Given that the transportation system is often viewed as a "means to an end" (or in technical terms, a derived demand), creating a resilient system helps achieve the public transportation agency's role of providing mobility and accessibility. In addition, there are many examples of where transportation agencies were blamed for perceived inadequate response to disruptive events. Enhancing system resilience is thus an important concern to public officials for the credibility and image of the agency itself. For companies and firms, concerns can include a range of issues, including ensuring employee safety, supporting local community health, maintaining customer relationships whose products and goods are being delayed, and ultimately preserving the financial standing of the firm. As noted in a supply chain journal, "In today’s increasingly dynamic and turbulent world, one where the supply chain plays an increasingly more important role, numerous events occur each day that threaten to disrupt operations and jeopardize the ability to perform effectively and efficiently. These events include natural and man-made disasters such as equipment failures, fires, labor disputes, supplier defaults, political instability, and terrorist attacks. Each can have devastating effects on a firm. Such disruptions reinforce the insights that not only can supply chain disruptions affect operations; they often result in financial damage well beyond the immediate operational impacts".1 The purpose of this guidance is to recommend actions to key public and private stakeholders in the supply chain to mitigate and adapt to logistical disruptions with the overall aim of enhancing freight transportation system resilience. The target audiences include decision makers from freight carriers and shippers, state transportation agencies, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), freight advisory councils and other organizations interested in a resilient, sustainable and robust multimodal freight transportation system. This project is particularly important and timely given the recent emphasis on freight transportation and system resiliency in the transportation and logistics fields. 1 Melnyk, S., D. Closs, S. Griffis, C. Zobel, and J. Macdonald. 2014. "Understanding Supply Chain Resilience." Supply Chain Management Review," http://www.scmr.com/article/understanding_supply_chain_resilience

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TRB’s National Cooperative Freight Research Program (NCFRP) has released a pre-publication version of Research Report 39: Freight Transportation Resilience in Response to Supply Chain Disruptions. The report provides guidance to public and private stakeholders on mitigating and adapting to logistical disruptions to supply chains resulting from regional, multi-regional, and national adverse events, both unanticipated and anticipated.

The report, which makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on freight transportation and system resiliency:

(1) assesses research, practices, and innovative approaches in the United States and other countries related to improving freight transportation resiliency;

(2) explores strategies to build relationships that result in effective communication, coordination, and cooperation among affected parties;

(3) identifies factors affecting resiliency;

(4) analyzes potential mitigation measures;

(5) characterizes spatial and temporal scale considerations such as emergency planning and response timeframes;

(6) prioritizes response activities by cargo types, recipients, and suppliers;

(7) identifies potential barriers and gaps such as political boundaries, authorities, ownership, modal competition and connectivity, and social and environmental constraints; and

(8) examines the dynamics of supply chain responses to system disruptions.

The report also includes a self-assessment tool that allows users to identify the current capability of their organization and institutional collaboration in preparing for and responding to supply chain disruptions.

Disruptions to the supply chain and their aftermath can have serious implications for both public agencies and companies. When significant cargo delays or diversions occur, the issues facing the public sector can be profound.

Agencies must gauge the potential impact of adverse events on their transportation system, economy, community, and the resources necessary for preventive and remedial actions, even though the emergency could be thousands of miles away.

Increasing temporary or short-term cargo-handling capacity may involve a combination of regulatory, informational, and physical infrastructure actions, as well as coordination across jurisdictional boundaries and between transportation providers and their customers.

For companies, concerns can include such issues as ensuring employee safety, supporting local community health, maintaining customer relationships when products and goods are delayed, and ultimately preserving the financial standing of the company.

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