Climbing Congestion, Cascading Consequences

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It seems like every day there are new records being broken on congestion by the number of ships waiting at anchor in San Pedro Bay; the number of days it takes for a container to move, door-to-door from China to the U.S.; and the cost of a container to make the trip. As we move closer to the holiday shopping season, cargo concerns are growing for retailers who want to have inventory on shelves before Black Friday. The best time to solidify your holiday plans was a month ago, but if you find yourself in a last-minute scramble, you need Coppersmith by your side to help you stay ahead of the disruption. 

The disruption has become so severe that the Port of LA has extended its hours of operation to remain open from 2:00 AM until 7:00 AM, in addition to their regular hours, in an effort to catch up on the backlog of containers and ships waiting. Some key numbers to keep in mind regarding this decision: 

  • 65 ships are currently at anchor
  • Transit between China and U.S. is 71 days
  • Once berthed, ships are waiting over 8 days for service
  • Los Angeles processes 40% of containerized imports and 30% of containerized exports

Congestion delays in Los Angeles are impacting the linchpin of U.S. logistics operations and the problems will ripple out. We can expect warehouse capacity to be pressed as rail and truck shipments try to keep up with the record number of imports coming into the port. The cargo and containers will need to go somewhere while they wait for loading on trains and trucks that are already stressed by the overflow. 

This situation impacts all of us, despite our best efforts. After seven decades in business, we freely admit this is unlike any other time and the solutions won’t happen overnight. It’s our dedication to our customers that keeps us working every day on solving the cargo trouble we can control. While we are grateful to all of our customers, it is times like these that make us realize we owe a great thank you for the patience, transparency, flexibility, and honesty that helps us to do our jobs. 

The holiday season won’t be an easy one, but there is light at the end of the congestion tunnel. We’re looking ahead now, planning for the delays, and working with carriers who consistently take care of Coppersmith and our customers. If you want to begin planning, make a secondary logistics plan, or just stay ahead of the issues facing logistics, your Coppersmith representative is here to assist you.