For the third consecutive month, U.S. shippers should be prepared to deal with ongoing congestion, delays and equipment shortages that have been plaguing the Los Angeles-Long Beach Port complex.
The cause of the extreme gridlock and increasing dwell times is due to the unparalleled surge in imports, backlogs from weather delays, and mega-vessel capacity injected to meet high market demand. Shippers were warned of the congestion months in advance and were advised to consider alternative routings to accommodate for the increase in traffic.
Fearing the worst from the U.S.-China trade dispute, and in an effort to avoid potential 25% additional duties, shippers placed orders for advanced inventory as extra-loader and mega-vessels were injected to take advantage of hot demand. Unfortunately, these back-to-back deliveries and issues with chassis shortages have completely overwhelmed the LA/LB port complex, where dwell times are the highest they’ve been in two years and vessels like the Eleonora Maersk are dumping record-level container exchanges of 27,846 TEU at a time.
In mid-December, port officials blamed lack of action on the bureaucracy of servicing 200,000 BCOs, 15 steamship lines, port & trucking unions, three chassis providers and two railroads. The need for approval from all stakeholders often puts industries in conflict, stagnating progress. But directors announced several immediate changes they hope to implement over the next several months, such as:
- universal trucker appointment system;
- perimeter delivery system to pre-positioning containers for immediate delivery;
- chassis inventory system showing real-time position; and
- repositioning chassis at near-dock sites, instead of the terminals.
Port authorities are hoping to facilitate solutions quickly, during the 2-4 week lull in imports from the Lunar New Year closing of Chinese manufacturing.
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