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Shall We Play a Game?

While the term “logistics” may conjure up images of military maneuvers, it’s not often that UPS gets invited to participate in a military gaming exercise. Yet that’s exactly what happened in December when two UPS employees represented the company at the Global Shipping Game conducted by the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Corey Strong, military resale program manager, and Steve Thomas, competitive analysis manager, joined participants from U.S. government agencies, industry and academia at the Naval War College to explore potential impacts of the expansion of the Panama Canal by 2020 and the opening of the Arctic passages by 2035.  Participants used the exercise to evaluate and make recommendations on how changes in global shipping patterns and current and pending legislation could impact security, trade as well as the economic investment needed to support these changes.

Corey was on a team that looked at the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project that will allow 90 percent of global cargo ships to pass through, compared to just 6 percent now. While she can’t discuss specific recommendations until the final report is published, she was very excited about the experience.

“It was an honor being able to represent UPS on this team of professionals. We put aside individual company objectives and focused collectively on the important task at hand,” said Corey.

Steve Thomas, with more than 20 years of air and ocean shipping experience, was on the team that looked at how Arctic warming could impact shipping lanes. “UPS is a proactive company interested in exploring any game-changing, future issues that could potentially impact our customers,” said Steve.

According to the U.S. Navy, an Arctic passage could save 5,000 miles and significant amounts of fuel if it were used to transport goods from Asia to Europe. Steve noted, “If and when we can consistently use the Arctic passage, it will be a logistical game-changer by reducing shipping time and inventory costs.”

While it’s difficult to forecast ice-free conditions decades away, the Naval War College exercise revealed how opening the Arctic Ocean to all forms of commercial shipping and tourism would require significant infrastructure and technology to be deployed in order for shipping lines to take advantage of faster polar transit times.

The U.S. Navy says that gaming exercises like the Global Shipping Game create a decision-making environment that fosters education and understanding for military and civilian decision-makers alike by making sure the perspectives of both sides are considered.

Category: Logistics
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