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Port of Baltimore calamity shows supply chain’s vulnerabilities

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

Companies continue to make their supply chains more resilient to respond very quickly to supply chain disruptions. Some disruptions can be modeled or even predicted in some cases. But others are hard to predict and show that even with all the technology and process improvements in the world, supply chains remain vulnerable.

We’ve seen this over the winter period with the heavy floods in California and more recently this week with the accident at the Port of Baltimore. On Tuesday, a ship named the Dali hit a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early hours of the morning, causing the bridge to collapse. The bridge spanned the entrance to the Port of Baltimore, the busiest port in the U.S. for car exports and the ninth-busiest for foreign cargo. Not only was this a tragedy that claimed several lives, but it also showed that even as we’re building up a more resilient supply chain, these networks remain fragile and can be hit at any point.

This event will have a ripple effect in the supply chain as Baltimore is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments and the largest U.S. port by volume for handling farm and construction machinery. It is also the second-biggest port for U.S. coal exports.

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