The cargo delays at the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles affect multiple parties in the supply chain, from terminals to drayage providers to importers.
There is a 60% increase in the inbound outbound ratio at the ports of US West Coast, surpassing the pre COVID-19 levels, indicating that there is excessive stress on the ports, and therefore indicating further congestion is expected in the coming months as the holiday season approaches.
With peak season on the horizon and no signs of slowdown in cargo, Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports (LA-LB) - through which half of all US imports from Asia flow - say they are implementing aggressive operational initiatives to free up space at their marine terminals and reduce container dwell times to ease the crushing congestion at the largest US gateway.
This announcement has come one week after the ports said they would offer expanded night and weekend truck gate hours in the face of a 14-month deluge of cargo that shows no signs of easing.
LB are engaging in a “pilot project” with Total Terminals International (TTI) to loosen restrictions on night gate moves between 11pm - 1:30am so truckers can access TTI without having to adhere to a strict time of arrival. The project will allow truckers with appointments during this period access whenever they arrive during that time.
TTI will also be opening its gates during the third shift from 3am - 7am (known as the “hoot” shift in LA-LB) Monday - Thursday each week. The gates will open for dual transactions so truckers can drop off an empty container for shipment back to Asia and take delivery of an import load during the same visit.
LA is intending to take full advantage of existing gate hours before using hoot or weekend gates but will be open to such requests such the need arise.
According to PIERS import and export data, the LA-LB ports have handled 6.3 million TEU of imports from Asia through August, an increase of 28.7 percent from the first eight months of 2020.
The Marine Exchange of Southern California stated that there were 95 container ships in the LA-LB harbor on Wednesday 22nd September, 62 of which were forced to rest at anchor until berthing space opened.
It is apparent that empty containers are clogging up marine terminals, limiting the speed at which crane operators can unload ships because there simply is not enough space available at the terminals. Also, containers that have been unloaded at warehouses are sitting on chassis at those facilities because the terminals are metering the return of the empties to the terminals.
Terminal operators in LA-LB say they are willing to extend their hours with “flex” gates — opening one hour early — and by individually adding weekend gates if they can get commitments from retailers and truckers to make use of the extended hours.
Terminals say any dwell times more than four days contribute to port congestion:
- According to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, the average dwell on the LA-LB docks for local delivery containers was 5.4 days in August, up from 5.2 days in July.
- The average dwell for rail containers was 8.2 days, down from 11.3 days in July.
TTI focused on driver productivity
LA is working with two terminal operators, that are served by shipping lines in two of the three Trans-Pacific carrier alliances, to receive commitments from 35 - 40 shippers to utilise the appointment slots that are not being filled by their truckers. The terminals want to match up empty returns with inbound loads to increase the number of dual transactions that help drivers improve their productivity.
The port Executive Director of LA, Gene Seroka, has said that if existing gate hours are fully utilised and there is still a need for more extended gates, he is confident the terminals will extend their hours.
We continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated. Please contact our Customer teams with any enquiries relating to specific bookings.