Coal, barges and the global supply chain

An article in Fortune (Dec 26,2011) describes the US barge industry, with each barge having a capacity 15 to 17 times a railcar and more than 60 times a truck, using less fuel per mile and thus lower emissions and one third the cost of rail. But industry capacity determines rates and delays, and thus delivery uncertainty, are due to the management of the water along the rivers.  Thus, despite a rise in corn production, barge use had not changed significantly because corn is being used to produce ethanol. However, coal now drives barge traffic, with power plants and exports driving volume. Federal investments in river management impact the competitiveness of the industry, as does capacity addition by barge companies.  Should the Federal government provide antitrust exemptions to this industry to enable coordination of traffic flow ? Given the significant impact of capital investment projects on industry competitiveness, should the Federal government consider permitting the industry to absorb the capital costs in return for favorable rates during use ? Given the focus on sustainable transportation, will river barges make a comeback as part of reducing supply chain emissions ?

About aviyer2010

This entry was posted in Collaboration, Global Contexts, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Coal, barges and the global supply chain

  1. I believe there may be more to the issue of increased river traffic. Although you address a transportation issue and fuel consumption the waterways themselves are a critical habitat that could be severely affected. In the next couple decades water is going to be an issue that is not being discussed much outside the southwest.

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