The supply chain challenges of Trump’s border wall

The supply chain view of Trump’s border wall

Tenders for what is perhaps one of the most controversial construction project in the world, President Trump’s proposed border wall between the US and Mexico, have been sent out to potential suppliers. Those that choose to try and win work could face a number of hurdles ahead.


In March, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued two RFPs for design submissions for a reinforced concrete version of the wall as well as another made from see-through materials. Among other details in the RFP is that the wall must be "physically imposing", durable in the event of an attack with small tools, as well as "aesthetically pleasing".


After interest from many suppliers, four companies have been awarded contracts to build prototypes. The firms have been given one month to build these prototypes, followed by a 30-60 day evaluation period in which the models will be tested before construction contracts are awarded.


But, this is far from a typical public procurement process and suppliers will face a number of challenges when it comes to construction.


There are a number of logistical challenges to building the border wall. For one, the wall will cross several US states, meaning suppliers will need to ensure they comply with any different regulations across those geographies.


Legal challenges may also arise as the proposed path of the wall will involve going through national parks as well as private property. These complexities will no doubt lead to delays.


Sourcing and getting raw materials delivered on site will also add to complexity. Some firms may not want to be associated with the project so could restrict the number of sources that the materials needed can be sourced from.


Meanwhile, when it comes to logistics, the wall will go through some fairly remote terrain, which will make it difficult to get raw materials to where they are needed at the right time.


According to an article in The Washington Post, employees working along the border already fear for their lives due to the hostility the wall has created between the Mexico and the US. There will no doubt be protests and so suppliers will have to ensure the security and safety of their workers.


A construction project of this scope and scale is a big project for any supplier to take on. Coupled with the controversy surrounding it, it could make for a very risky supply chain indeed.


Image: mdurson /


This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.

Rachel Sharp
Posted by Rachel Sharp

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