Takeaways from the 2014 Georgia Logistics Summit

Brad & ColinBy Brad Harmon and Colin McRae, HunterMaclean
Special to Business In Savannah

Consumers have come to expect that shipping for online orders will be both fast and cheap. The logistics industry is tasked with providing that service — moving cargo around the globe by air, sea, land and rail. But in the face of rising costs, increased regulation, and global competition, how can the industry, well, deliver?

That question was the starting point for many of the sessions at the 2014 Georgia Logistics Summit, hosted annually by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics. Logistics is vital to Georgia’s economy, representing $15 billion annually, and the attendees were keen to hear from leaders of manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, and retail as they presented their ideas and innovations to survive and prosper.

Three extremely valuable sessions examined the challenges faced when importing, exporting and distributing goods domestically:

Import
It’s no surprise that many of the goods we buy are manufactured overseas. The transit from the point of manufacture to the U.S. distributor can be extremely unpredictable and therefore costly. Manufacturers and retailers are streamlining their international supply chains in many innovative ways, from taking over segments of the journey previously handled by the country of manufacture to utilizing U.S. competitiveness initiatives like Foreign Trade Zones.

Export
U.S.-based manufacturers are often faced with production costs that are higher than their overseas counterparts’ and have to find cost savings in other areas to remain competitive. Many are redesigning their packaging to allow greater shipping density and therefore lower cost; even large machinery is being re-engineered to nest in transit for greater shipping economy. Export regulations are becoming increasingly thorny, so companies are seeing the benefit of full-time import/export compliance managers to ensure efficiency and to avoid the adverse consequences of mis-declaring their export cargo.

Domestic
Retailers and logistics providers faced with rising labor and fuel costs as well as increased regulation are exploring efficiency solutions that range from high-tech lightweight and hybrid vehicles to transitioning existing retail stores into hyper-local distribution centers. Industry groups are advocating for balance in regulations such as Hours of Service for truck drivers.

HunterMaclean attorneys regularly attend the Georgia Logistics Summit to stay informed about our clients’ industry and the issues that they are facing. Our goal is to help clients be as efficient as possible in their business strategy, including how they structure their companies, transactions, and agreements as well as their approach to risk management, employment, compliance, and a host of other business decisions. The Georgia Logistics Summit is an invaluable asset to the logistics community, and we have already marked our calendars for 2015.