It is now more important than ever for American companies to accurately oversee their supply chain with automated data collection tools, as the volume of goods entering the United States by boat increased 1.2 percent in 2012 over the previous year, Supply Chain Brain reported.
Over the last 12 months, 17.6 million twenty-foot equivalent unit boxes came into the country, which is about 200,000 more containers than were imported in 2011. While this growth is not as significant as the increases in 2009, SupplyChainBrain noted that the increase is significant considering how the tumultuous events of 2012 disrupted the global supply chain.
"In the past 12 months there have been strikes at the ports, hurricanes, and shifts in manufacturing," said U.S. trade expert Paul Rasmussen, according to the news source. "Not to mention that in a post-recession economy, U.S. companies are running their businesses much more conservatively. It's no wonder that 2012 imports were less than dramatic and certainly not back to the massive consumption seen in 2007."
Not only is growth less significant than it has been in the past, but the amount of money companies could expect to get from their imports has dropped over the past nine months. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, import prices fell 1.5 percent in 2012. The last time prices dropped over the course of a full calendar year was during 2008.
To Combat Risk, Turn to Better Data Collection Methods
However, in spite of natural disasters and falling import prices, the fact that the total amount of imported goods did rise during 2012 stands as testament to the benefits companies are realizing by importing goods. Yet many concerns remain, underscoring the need for organizations to implement supply chain software to better manage imports and realize improved profit margins.
According to a report from Supply Chain Management from Ernst & Young and the University of Virginia's Robert Spekman and Niklas Myhr, traditional siloed approaches to supply chain management are no longer sufficient to oversee increasingly complex systems. Instead, companies will find they are better off leveraging the latest supply chain software to more effectively guide their decisions in the wake of decreasing margins and increased risk.
"Because supply chains may be long and complex and may involve many different business partners, we frequently see problems in the operation of the supply chains," the University of Northern Iowa's Roberta Roth wrote. "These problems may result in delays, in customers' dissatisfaction, in lost sales, and in high expenses of fixing the problems once they occur. World-class companies, such as Dell Computer, attribute much of their success to effective supply chain management (SCM), which is largely supported by IT."