As 2021 draws to a close, efforts are being made on several fronts to alleviate the supply chain problems that have led to massive ship backups in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
But while backups aren’t as visible due to the new queuing system, don’t expect a dramatic relief from the supply chain crisis in the new year, Port of LA chief executive Jin Seroka said in a speech Wednesday, December. 15.
Summing up the results of 2021, as well as reporting on the volume of cargo for November, Seroka listed several successes achieved: the level of productivity has increased, the downtime of the cargo has decreased.
But he added: “We have a long way to go and no one is announcing victory.”
Among the looming challenges, Serok said, is providing enough chassis to further reduce truck downtime.
As the calendar year draws to a close, cargo volumes from January to November are around 9.8 million container units, up 18.7% from the previous record for this time period set in 2018 and reaching the busiest port of the country is 10.7 million units. up to 10.8 million twenty foot equivalents per calendar year.
And Seroka said in his monthly virtual press conference that he predicts that the pace will continue until 2022.
Peak shipment for the holiday season has already been completed, and there is already a rush to exceed shipping dates ahead of what will be the early Lunar New Year, causing factories in China to close in early February.
Thereafter, Seroka said, US retailers said they would spend the second quarter of 2022 restocking their stocks.
After that, he said, “we will move to an earlier peak season” at the end of next year.
Trucking data for November will be around 812,000 TEU, Serok said, although the figure is yet to be finalized, adding that this is 9% less compared to November 2020, when freight traffic growth was at an early peak.
Some of the container ships currently monitored are small vessels carrying less TEU, Serok said.
According to Serok, stocks are only about 1% lower than they were 12 months ago, and stocks are up about 2% compared to the same period last year.
“While we still have a lot to improve,” Seroka said, “the goods end up in the hands of consumers.”
The new queuing system for ships now allows ships “to go a little slower and call for labor when leaving Asia,” Seroka said, “instead of crossing the ocean and then jostling to reserve dock time while anchored directly off the coast. …
According to him, the new arrangement is not a way to “hide” or disguise the number of ships waiting at any given time. The system is still new, he said, but the numbers are now fully tabulated and posted on the port’s website.
The protocol now provides greater safety for ships, especially during high winds, and the change is also seen as a way to reduce pollution in coastal areas.
“Most agree that it was a smart decision,” Ceroka said of the plan formulated by the Pacific Maritime Association, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Southern California Maritime Exchange.
As of Wednesday, 97 vessels were either anchored, drifting, or “slowly moving” towards San Pedro Bay, he said. According to him, 45 of them were heading to the port of Los Angeles, and 52 to the port of Long Beach.
Waiting times on the rail – the amount of time a cargo waits at the docks to pick it up and deliver it to its final destination – has now dropped from a peak of 13.5 days in the summer, Seroka said, to two days now. …
“This is the lowest rate since pre-COVID,” he said.
The truck’s downtime could have been better, he said, but it also dropped from a peak of 11 days to six days.
But problems with assignments – now about 53% – are not picked up by trucking companies or drivers to return containers and pick up loaded shipping containers, Seroka said.
According to the director, exports continue to fall, which requires special attention.
The accumulation of empty containers is also still a problem, but progress has been made in that direction, he said.
“There are 71,000 empty containers and we are asking shipping companies to bring in more and more sweepers,” to remove them, Seroka said. “We have set up several docking warehouses on Terminal Island so that containers can be returned to mid-points in order to better triangulate the flow of trucks and take out goods faster.”
Seroka added that the holiday shopping season in 2021 will be “longer than anything we’ve seen in the past.”
In response to calls from the ports, retailers began ordering holiday supplies in the summer to make sure they hit shelves on time.
The overall supply chain challenges remain countless and complex, he said.
“I was talking to a reporter the other day,” Seroka said. “I didn’t try to be frivolous, but I said it was almost like playing Whac-A-Mole.
“We have a lot to do every day,” he said.
Outside ports, bottlenecks are seen in other parts of the supply chain, including the 20 largest bottlenecks in the country outside ports, according to a study published this week by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. trucking, two of which are in California.
The top 20 bottlenecks in California include Highway 10 on Highway 15 in San Bernardino, ranking 10th overall, and Highway 60 on Highway 57 in Los Angeles County, ranking 11th. …
Most of the warehouses that receive and store port cargo are located in the Inner Empire.
By April 2020, trucking was down 10%, according to the report, an example of the resilience of the supply chain and the country’s dependence on freight.
National freight transport, which includes freight for hire, freight rail, inland waterway, pipeline and air, peaked in August 2019. They peaked in April 2020, and by September 2021 they recovered to 2% compared to September 2019. …
The City News Service contributed to the article.