Inside Logistics

Import surge causing congestion at ports

Spike in import volumes clogging up main U.S. ports of entry


November 24, 2020
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Container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd has reported significant delays at U.S. ports. The company shared the details in a customer bulletin on Monday, saying the delays are a result of a “spike in import volumes”.

As of Friday, November 20th there were 13 ships at anchor awaiting berths in the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach (LAX/LGB).

A shortage of railcars was affecting inland transportation transit time to all main inland ramps. The situation has since improved at the terminals, but they are still congested.  On-dock rail performance is lagging, forcing many units to be trucked to/from the off dock rail ramp and the terminals.

The off-dock ramp for Union Pacific is also heavily congested. Hapag-Lloyd said it is working with the UP and its house truckers to move these boxes to the terminals as soon as possible in order to load the cargo.

Truck driver availability remains an issue, along with a “stressed chassis inventory” in most terminal locations, the carrier said.

New York

At the Port of New York and New Jersey, terminals “continue to struggle with higher import volumes, high empty inventories, and increased dwell times” Hag-Lloyd said.

With the Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, closures will result in gate congestion. Terminals have been extending gate / terminal hours when necessary to accommodate import deliveries.

Other factors still impacting operations are driver shortages, customer warehouse congestion, and low chassis inventories.

All terminals dealing with some degree of berth congestion and delays thanks to the reinstatement by all alliances of previous voided sailings, and vessels continually being off schedule upon arrival.

Chassis Pools

Hapag-Lloyd reports that chassis are also in short supply in numerous locations around the U.S. In Oakland, California, 40-foot units are in short supply, with some units grounded at ramp and high volume of wheeled units at Trapac terminal.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, the pool is stressed and more units may be grounded next week.

In Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota, there is a shortage of 40-foot chassis, resulting in longer dwells on street.

New York is seeing a shortage as well, due to volumes.