Country’s busiest container port set to operate 24/7 to ship goods to stores ahead of the holiday season
According to the White House, expanded operations at the Port of Los Angeles will nearly double the hours of cargo moving. It said the additional shifts have been agreed to by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers.
The Port of Long Beach struggled to increase cargo flow after increasing its opening hours, with truck drivers complaining that the restrictions on them for lifting and dropping containers were too tough. The shortage of truck drivers and warehouse workers has also created problems in supply chains. It is unclear how many terminals in Los Angeles will operate 24/7 and when those operations will begin.
Jean Cerocca, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said details of the overnight hours were still being worked out with companies in the supply chain.
“Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game changer,” President Biden said. “I say efficiencies because not all of this stuff will move on its own. For the positive impact to be felt by all of you across the country and at home, we need major retailers that order consignment and freight movers who Carries goods from ships to factories and stores.
The US supply chain has struggled to adapt to the crush of imports as consumers have shifted from services to home goods, including electronics, and as businesses race to restore pandemic-battered inventories. Hundreds of thousands of containers are stuck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, West Coast gateways that move more than a quarter of all US imports. Dozens of ships are anchored ashore, with waiting times of up to three weeks.
Supply-chain disturbances leading to higher prices and helping to prop up inflation, which accelerated slightly in September, are posing another challenge to Biden, whose policy agenda is being discussed in Congress. is tied. The administration has faced a range of supply-chain problems, affecting everything from wood to semiconductors, and it is looking for ways to partner with private industry to reduce the backlog.
and United Parcel Service Inc.
According to the White House, they are among the companies that have stepped up operations at ports, with the hope that other companies will follow the same cycle.
The White House said the six companies’ commitment would allow an additional 3,500 containers to be moved overnight by the end of the year.
During the first eight months of this year, the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled more than 13.6 million containers, measured in 20-foot equivalent units, a shipping industry trade measure. This included the equivalent of 893,098 loaded inbound containers in August, or more than 200,000 each week, according to ports data.
To avoid delays, some retailers like Walmart, Home Depot Inc.
and costco wholesale Corporation
are paying for their own chartered vessels as part of wider plans to minimize disruptions.
Mr Biden met virtually on Wednesday afternoon with port directors, union officials, CEOs, including those at Target Corporation
and Samsung Electronics Co.
, as well as trucking and rail unions.
“This is a good first step, although it is quite surprising, and given how serious it is, it clearly takes the personal involvement of the President of the United States to implement this explicit measure,” said Björn Wang Jensen, Vice President of Global Supply Chain at Denmark-based marine data company Sea-Intelligence APS.
“It is also encouraging to see that President Biden is meeting with representatives of both importers as well as the trucking and rail communities,” he said. “Without full connectivity of all these supply chain components, you can keep the port open round the clock, as containers will continue to pile up in the yard.”
There have been disagreements over 24/7 operations and finger-pointing among key players in the supply chain, including port workers, truck drivers, warehouse operators, railways and retailers.
Southern California ports are generally open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, they are open for a limited number of hours on Saturdays and are generally closed on Sundays.
When the Port of Long Beach initially expanded its hours to 24 hours a day, four days a week, it failed to attract more trucks, with trucking companies saying the process was cumbersome. Noel Hecegaba, deputy executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said the schedule had been changed in recent weeks to be less restrictive and that some truck drivers have started using the morning hours.
Some terminal operators say there is no point in extending hours when many of their regular pickup slots are not used by truck drivers. “We’re now open 90 hours a week with 60 percent utilization,” said Sal Ferrigno, vice president of SSA Terminals, which operates three terminals on Long Beach.
Truckers say they are troubled by the lack of equipment needed to transport containers and warehouses that are packed or open during limited hours.
John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents ocean carriers and terminal operators, said the White House plan only addresses one part of the supply chain.
“The marine terminal gates are open, and most are providing extended hours but they are not being used,” he said in a statement. “The problem is that trucks are not utilizing the extended hours due to lack of drivers, warehouses are full and also suffer from shortage of personnel, chassis carrying containers are not being returned, leading to shortage of equipment. is happening. It is a system of systems dependent on each other.”
San Manders, chief operating officer of San Francisco-based freight forwarder Flexport Inc., said the extended port hours should help reduce the pile-up of containers clogging up terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
According to data from Flexport Trucks, Mr Manders said truckers are removing half as many containers from ports every day as they did during the summer, as overcrowding at terminals is severe. He said truck drivers could work more efficiently if they were given access to terminals overnight and on weekends.
“It helps, but there is no silver bullet,” Mr Manders said. “A lot of things are broken right now as a result of the freight tsunami and a lot of things will have to be put in line to get out of it.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged in an interview with “CBS Evening News” on Tuesday that there will be some shortages in the coming months.
“But there is an ample supply of goods,” she said. “And I think there’s no reason for consumers to panic over the absence of the goods they want to get at Christmas.”
—Paul Page contributed to this article.