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Small Business, International Trade, and the Blueprint Forward

Interrnational trade is becoming an increasingly large factor in the operations of small businesses. Advances in technology provided by computers and mobile communication devices have allowed small businesses to tap into this lucrative market. The internet provides a platform to gain access to markets all over the world that previously only large scale firms had the resources needed to tap into. The internet has numerous directories which list the resources available to help small businesses find information on how to locate markets abroad, and the methods needed to provide them with products. Search engines can provide listings for specific markets such as Europe or Asia, and specific industries as diverse as mining and medical instruments. Courses can even be found online outlining the business etiquette to be used in such procedures. They will walk the neophyte through every step needed to make such an operation a success. Numerous governmental agencies are devoted to helping small business operators in this regard. In the United States, the Small Business Administration comes immediately to mind, but a search engine request will unlock an abundance of other departments available to help small business expand in this field. There are also many trade associations available… read more »

Can Maritime Logistics Keep Up with the Demand?

In the past two decades there have been enormous changes in both the volume of world trade and the direction of its flow. Newly expanding economies in Asia, especially goods from China, have led to significant increases in the amount of cargo that is coming into the US, up as much as 280% in Californian ports. This has put pressure on port services across the board and caused many to question how ports can improve their performance to keep up with the pace that is being set by the huge growth in containerized imports. Part of the problem has been a lack of infrastructure, which has contributed to a serious congestion of the supply chain for these newly imported goods. Every delay in the flow of freight adds to its overall handling costs. As the congestion in our ports increases the pressure that is exerted on the existing infrastructure also increases all of the way down the supply line. There are even growing shortages of trucks to remove containers from the storage facilities in our ports. Further exacerbating the problem is that in systems which are already operating at capacity, there is inadequate redundancy and few alternatives in the event… read more »

In It for the Long Haul, Logistics and Truck Freight

The trucking industry is divided into several categories, depending on the type of freight and the distance moved. For the long haul, the type of truck used is referred to as a semi truck. These vehicles are a key element in business for moving raw materials and works in progress as well as finished goods. In the United States, trucks haul the majority of merchandise moved over land and are essential to virtually all elements of the economy. Keeping track of what is going where is formally known as logistics. While the trucks themselves continue to show improvements in such vital areas as safety and fuel economy, it is the logistical end of the business that has seen the greatest advances in the last several decades. Computers, GPS units, and mobile communication devices have revolutionized how goods are tracked, and have streamlined the billing end of the business. The Motor Carrier Act passed in 1980 did much to reform and energize the industry, which had fallen on hard times in the late 1970’s primarily due to the high costs of fuel in the era. The industry continues to be pressured into complying with ever stricter restrictions on emissions and higher… read more »

Trucks Face Long Waits at Ports

The rapid expansion in global trade has led to a mushrooming of truck traffic at many ports around the world. This has made truck congestion a choke point for continued growth in these places. Too often this choking threatens to become literal, as thousands of idling trucks add an enormous volume of pollutants to the air. Nearby residents and port workers risk respiratory damage from all the diesel particulates they breathe in. Cities such as Los Angeles that have made huge efforts to reduce emissions from automobiles and stationary sources find that their efforts are being thwarted by growing levels of exhausts from waiting trucks. To ease congestion, some ports are switching to round the clock operations. Currently, most ports only operate during a day shift. The hours are usually from 7 a.m. To 5 p.m. While keeping terminals and other facilities open for operation 24 hours a day may cut down on congestion, it may also act as an irritant to local residents who may not appreciate the noise generated by trucks rolling along through the night. Truck drivers are generally supportive of expanded hours, since they often line up to wait for hours for the port to open… read more »