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Global Supply Chain News: Attempt to Operate 24 Hours per Day Floundering at Ports of LA and Long Beach

 


Most Nights the One Terminal Operating Overnight Fails to Reach the Minimum 25 Carrier Appointments

 

 

Nov. 23, 2021
SCDigest Editorial Staff

So much for that idea.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

 

A fundamental issue observed by many: most carriers and port warehouses don’t operate in the overnight, though the Biden has encouraged them to extend their operating schedules.

 
 

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In an effort to reduce the major delays for ships to be unloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Biden administration recently put pressure on terminals at the ports to move to operating 24 hours a day for the first time to clear the backlog.

So one terminal there obliged. It isn’t working.

As recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, in September a single terminal at the Port of Long Beach extended its gate hours to around the clock Monday to Thursday.

But no trucks showed up to pick up containers. The port reacted by announcing it would open during overnight hours only if at least 25 drayage trucks made appointments.

Here in mid-November, appointments reached that number only one time – but even then only five trucks actually showed up.

The port terminal is owned by Total Terminals International, which says it incurs costs of about $10,000 to remain open during overnight hours. Conversely, drayage carriers which fail to show up for scheduled appointments face no charges.

And given that reality, none of the other 12 terminal operators at the ports have moved to 24 hour operations, as record numbers of container ships continue to wait at sea for berths to unload their cargo.

Why hasn’t it worked? The Wall Street Journal says there is a lot of finger pointing going on.

For example, it cites one drayage carrier company that would like to use the 24-hour pickups but said the appointment restrictions relative to the types of empty containers and chassis the terminal will except in the off hours are so restrictive it was difficult to qualify for an appointment.

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An executive at the carrier said that if the containers “aren’t the specific steamship line box on the specific chassis they need at the specific minimum, you’re out of luck.”

A fundamental issue observed by many: most carriers and port warehouses don’t operate in the overnight, though the Biden has encouraged them to extend their operating schedules.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in an on-line briefing last week that the sprawling complex has “24/7 capability,” but a shortage of truck drivers and nighttime warehouse workers pose problems in establishing a non-stop schedule, along with getting importers to embrace expanded hours.

“It’s an effort to try to get this entire orchestra of supply chain players to get on the same calendar,” he said. But across thousands of importers, “we’ve had very few takers to date,” Seroka added.

There have been some modest successes. Major importers such as Walmart, Target, FedEx and UPS have pledged to making better use of nights and weekends to pick up containers at LA and Long Beach – though it doesn’t seem to have had much effect on the backlog.

Most are hoping that the end of peak season 2021 will serve to clear much of the backlog.


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