Cargo delays worsen, but California ports still rest on weekends
Despite shipping delays and growing freight backlogs, America’s busiest port complex closes for hours on most days and remains closed on Sundays. Meanwhile, major ports in Asia and Europe have been operating around the clock for years.
“With the current work schedule, you have two large ports operating at 60% -70% of their capacity,” said Uffe Ostergaard, president of the North America region for German boxships operator Hapag-Lloyd AG. This is a huge operational inconvenience. “
The US supply chain has so far failed to adjust to the import crash as companies rush to restock stocks depleted by the pandemic. Tens of thousands of containers are stranded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., The two west coast gateways that carry more than a quarter of all U.S. imports. More than 60 ships are lined up to dock, with waiting times of up to three weeks.
Participants from every link in the American chain – shipping companies, port workers, truckers, warehouse operators, railroads and retailers – blame others for the imbalances and disagree that 24/7 operations. 24/7 will help them catch up. All of them are struggling with a labor shortage.
The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are managed separately and operate 13 private container terminals. Long Beach officials said last week they would try to operate 24 hours a day Monday through Thursday. Gene Seroka, executive director of the largest port in Los Angeles, said his port would act more cautiously, keeping existing hours while waiting for truckers and warehouse operators to extend their hours.
“It has been almost impossible to put everyone on the same page for 24/7 operations,” said Mr. Seroka.
Truck drivers often do not show up for scheduled appointments to pick up boxes from flooded container yards to make room for the next load, shipping and port officials say. Truckers blame terminal congestion, saying delays to one appointment can cause them to miss the next, and that shipping companies are not doing enough to empty the empty container towers that take up space on the docks.
Before any changes this coming week, the docking routine in ports involves two shifts: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. say the line and terminal operators who foot the bill. Merchandise pickups on Saturdays are also rare, being billed as premium shifts, and there is no work on Sundays.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dockworkers, said its members will work a third shift or on weekends, but the stack of containers must first be retrieved out of port, so that it there is space to unload more of the ships.
“The congestion will not be corrected until everyone has done their part,” said Frank Ponce De Leon, member of the coast committee at ILWU. “Terminal operators underutilized their option to hire us for the third shift,” he said. .
Federal safety regulations limit most commercial truck drivers to 11 hours of driving per 14-hour work day. Port truckers often prefer to start early in the morning to maximize the number of loads they move per day, said Tom Boyle, general manager of Quik Pick Express LLC, a trucking and warehousing provider based in Carson, Calif. , not far from the port complex.
Night shifts are less popular. Drivers who pick up loads late at night do not always have a place to drop them off. Truckers may need to park a box at a drop-off station and then deliver it later when the destination warehouse is open.
“The biggest issue that it boils down to is probably the workforce,” said Boyle, who said his company, like other fleets, was constantly on the lookout for drivers.
A labor shortage is also causing significant delays in loading freight trains, which move up to 30% of all containers to major distribution centers like Chicago.
Union Pacific Corp., one of the two major railroads moving freight from the West Coast to the country, mostly experiences delays, or delays, when it picks up cargo from ports and transfers it to trucks at destination. , CEO Lance Fritz said in a recent interview. “Where we see living is at each end,” he said.
Nike executives said Thursday the time it takes to move a freight container from Asian factories to North America is now around 80 days, twice as long as before the pandemic. Moving items like paper towels or furniture to the United States is also a challenge, with Costco executives saying it can be difficult to find trucks or drivers at short notice.
“If you work at a 24/7 gate, it will only improve your speed” if all participants are involved, said Wim Lagaay, general manager of APM Terminals North America, which operates a terminal in Los Angeles. Angeles. “Up to 30% of the total truck appointments are not met because there are not enough trucks, drivers or chassis.”
Port truckers say some appointment slots are not used due to lack of equipment, like the chassis needed to transport containers, or due to restrictions on what drivers can do during that appointment, including the return of empty containers.
“There is too much congestion due to empty containers at the terminals,” said Matt Schrap, general manager of the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents carriers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Shipping companies do not take out the boxes. which prevents us from returning the voids that we store in our yards, ”he said.
With such long delays, some freight owners no longer manage to recover their boxes. Mr. Seroka, the Port of Los Angeles manager, said they use the containers as mobile storage units because it is cheaper to leave them in a port than to rent warehouse space.
“Even if [warehouses] were open 24/7, there just isn’t any space, ”said Jason Tolliver, executive at Cushman & Wakefield PLC real estate. About 98% of warehouses in the Inland Empire, a highly logistics region of Southern California, are fully occupied, and the entire Western United States has a vacancy rate of 3.6%. .
With limited warehouse capacity, many truckers leave boxes outside of facilities with the chassis. Line operators say it normally takes three days to return the chassis to port, but now it takes eight.
Los Angeles and Long Beach face different challenges than export or transshipment docks in Asia and Europe. Other ports have not handled such high import volumes in the past year by so many operators, while the domestic part of the supply chain has remained largely unchanged.
Overall container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles have increased by 30% so far this year compared to 2020, but Mr. Seroka said trucking capacity only increased by 8%. The development of the warehouse is just as difficult, he said, because there is at least 25% less storage space than needed.
“It’s impossible to move such volumes efficiently if we don’t move to 24/7 operations throughout the supply chain,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “They do it in other parts of the world. “
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing
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