The Utah Inland Port Authority convened local and national partners Monday to discuss nationwide supply chain challenges and Utah’s role in providing solutions.
Panelists discussed the complicated business of logistics. While many possible fixes have been proposed for the broken supply chain, there likely isn’t a silver bullet.
“No one party can solve everything,” said Andrew Scott, founder of QuayChain (pronounced “key-chain”) Technologies. “There isn’t one solution. There’s not a magic wand to all of this.”
Several of the 10 panelists, including state leaders and industry experts, highlighted antiquated methods of moving freight to and from west coast ports.
“Cargo is moving but not at the pace and velocity we would like,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Deputy Executive Director at the Port of Long Beach.
Dr. Hacegaba also pointed out that only 10% of freight leaves Long Beach by train, while the rest rides by truck. He sees this as both a problem and strategic opportunity.
“This is now a national crisis,” Hacegaba said. “This is why partnerships with the Utah Inland Port Authority, Union Pacific, Valor Victoria, Port of Oakland…it’s so critical that we all recognize that we’re part of a broader system.”
Ashley Ritteman, CEO of Valor Victoria, a company focused on rail, trucking, and transportation technology, echoed that sentiment.
“When you are coordinating long-haul truck moves, it taxes your trucking capacity and your chassis capacity in an already short supply of truck drivers,” Ritteman said. “What we’re really looking to do is, how do we put more freight on rail?”
The demand for consumer goods reached record highs in 2021 and is on pace to skyrocket even higher. Panelists addressed the immediate crisis of goods shortages and higher consumer prices along with the future of the logistics industry.
“With the anticipated trade growth, the only way that you will be able to accommodate the growth is by increasing velocity,” said Andrew Hwang, Manager of Maritime Business Development and International Marketing for the Port of Oakland.
Hwang, along with other panelists, sees the state of Utah as one of several possible solutions to the lack of velocity.
“We can leverage the position and the growth opportunity that’s here to stage freight to and from that west coast, to make the port terminals more fluid,” said Ritteman. “So, we are able to avoid congestion just by simply having multiple funnel points rather than having one funnel point.”
The Utah Inland Port Authority has existing agreements with two-dozen including the ports of Long Beach and Oakland, Valor Victoria, and Union Pacific. The UIPA says these deals will help create a unified system dedicated to modernizing the nation’s supply chain and making it more efficient.
“We certainly are working hard to provide solutions, to come up with solutions, and come up with ways forward,” said Jack Hedge, Executive Director of the Utah Inland Port Authority.
Hedge said this week’s panel discussion was the first of many to come.
About the Utah Inland Port Authority
The Utah Inland Port Authority is a multimodal logistics agency with a regional approach to increase utilization and expand access for commerce throughout Utah. UIPA improves logistics infrastructure within the statewide system through high-speed broadband and zero emissions tech to revolutionize how logistics are done. One third of Utah’s GDP, employment, and incomes are dependent on the logistics system. Visit inlandportauthority.utah.gov for more information.