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On top of massive container congestion on the U.S. west coast, recently announced shutdowns and outbreaks in China are further stressing the ocean cargo supply chain. News of both the Meidong ocean closure and airline shutdowns in China where flights are being held due to the outbreak have many shippers and forwarders concerned about when and if cargo will be received. While many may think this is the perfect time to divert and make new arrangements, we’re not sure that’s the best decision at the last minute. 

The proper time for diversion and alternate sourcing is, obviously, right before any problems develop. Once there are issues on the ground, if your cargo is in the mix, there isn’t much power or point in uprooting a supply chain as the restart and investment will likely be more problematic and costly than sticking it out. 

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, while struggling with more than 30 ships at anchor waiting berths, are still two of the most advanced in the nation. They move huge numbers of containers each year and are built for recovering time lost on delays. Smaller ports might have less congestion but they can quickly become swamped and the delays are going to last longer when there isn’t an infrastructure in place that was made to deal with the level of cargo that is currently moving through the west coast. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the midwest where rail and trucking is swamped by the number of containers connecting throughout the country. Equipment, including boxes and chassis, is in short supply as the days of a next-day pick-up appointment are a thing of the past and it’s more like two weeks between booking and recovery. When everything is an emergency, nothing is an emergency. 

After seven decades in the logistics industry, there isn’t much we haven’t seen or lived through here at Coppersmith. We’ve weathered container congestion, ups, and downs, crisis and catastrophe, and still, this situation is unpredictable on a level we haven’t seen. Steady and steadfast, Coppersmith has a long and celebrated history of caring for our clients, come what may. We are committed to keeping you up to date with the current situation and how it unfolds, remaining by your side until the waters (and air, rail, road, etc.,) grow calm again. If you have concerns, we’re standing by to discuss them and advise how you can keep your cargo moving. 

Bud Coppersmith

Author Bud Coppersmith

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