Letter Re: Kanban: America’s Ubiquitous “Just in Time” Inventory System–A Fragile House of Cards

Dear Jim:
Your web site is excellent. A few thoughts on Mark’s e-mail on JIT delivery.(Posted on February 25th.)

(1) For 34 years my job has taken me over the interstate highway/parkway system in New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City. Any accident, no matter how minor, affects traffic flow in both directions; the actual “event” and the “rubber neckers” slowing down to watch from the opposite side. Under the best conditions, the Staten Island Expressway (I-278) slows to a crawl approaching the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

(2) The two major north/south routes in New Jersey are the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) and the Garden State Parkway. US Route 1 is antiquated, congested and it runs through every small town in the state. The New Jersey Turnpike handles both passenger car and truck traffic. The Garden State Parkway is restricted to cars and small trucks because the overpasses (particularly in North Jersey) are low and cannot accommodate trucks.

(3) Both of these major highways have numerous bridges and overpasses. The most critical is in Woodbridge, New Jersey where the Garden State Parkway crosses over the New Jersey Turnpike. There is also an extended elevated portion of the New Jersey Turn Pike running near New York City. If 19 terrorists could destroy the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon with aircraft, how difficult would it be to sufficiently damage a highway bridge or overpass, thus severing a major transportation artery.

(4) New York City and the surrounding area is even more vulnerable. The map shows 6 bridges and two tunnels west of New York and 7 bridges and 2 tunnels spanning the East River. The only access to Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island is via a bridge or tunnel.

(5) With the decline of the northeastern railroads, significant quantities of critical materials move by truck. Truck transportation requires strong, passable highways and most importantly functioning bridges and tunnels. Every major port city in America has bridges and tunnels and even inland cities have rivers, rail lines, etc. spanned by bridges.
Are these assets sufficiently protected to insure their viability? – JH