Nov 03

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Winter is Coming!

5 minute read

It has been just over a year now where my friends and family that are not in my industry, actually want to talk to me about supply chain and current events. Before the Great LA/Long Beach vessel backlog of fall 2021, people would ask me what I did or how business was and run away from me after my first 2 sentences.

Now I get asked questions daily, well mostly complaints about supply shortages and it’s my turn to run away after 2 sentences, Ha! Revenge. I know all you Logistics professionals out there can totally relate. It’s a great time to be alive, or is it?

Midterm election time is here, and it is a big deal. It affects a lot of current situations going on in the country and will affect how these situations are dealt with in the future. I urge everyone to pay attention over the next couple days, learn something outside your normal way of thinking and get outside of your comfort zone. Play a podcast, go for a walk, stay happy, and take some time to mentally relax – the really good holidays are on the way!   

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) formed picket lines around the Oakland ports causing cargo handling disruptions Wednesday November 2nd, in turn causing Oakland Port gates to be closed first shift yesterday. Terminals did open up night gates yesterday, and of course it was crazy congested, there was limited labor and drivers sitting for hours waiting for container retrieval. These ongoing closures and threats of labor interruptions spell trouble for the future of Oakland and the other West Coast ports. Shippers are getting fed up with the West Coast ports, many have already switched over to sending their cargo to the East and Gulf Coast ports beginning this year and many more are exploring that option, as they can no longer tolerate the volatility of the unreliable work stoppages and closures. There is already a rapid decline of containers running through the West Coast ports this quarter, which is reducing the man-hours available for workers. According to a JOC article, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) said in a statement on Wednesday that the attempt to shut down terminals to gain leverage in local negotiations was “counterproductive.”  

Such ad-hoc work stoppages and slowdowns, which have hit all West Coast ports since the previous contract between the ILWU and the PMA expired on July 1, are contributing not only to declining cargo volumes, but also to a large drop in man-hours worked by West Coast longshoremen this fall. Terminal operators said they have no choice but to cut back on hours by canceling work shifts under these conditions. “We’ve done this recently, and more terminals are doing it now,” one operator said.

Import TEU volumes increased this week up 4.9% from last week. 16% of all US import volumes this week was through the New Jersey Ports, almost 1% over Los Angeles and over 1.5% over Long Beach imports this week. Those percentages may seem small but LA and Long Beach ports are set up to handle heavier volumes. With shippers looking into moving their imports through the east coast and gulf ports, planning for congestion for those ports is a smart tactic. Aside from increasing volumes, Northern East coast ports are about to head into winter weather also. Speaking with declining west coast volumes, there is a glimmer of hope for rail dwell to get better, pending the outcome of the upcoming union contracts.

Chassis shortage congestion continues to be a pain at Memphis, Dallas, Chicago, St Louis, Kansas City and Indianapolis rails. Most are about 2 weeks out for pool chassis and private chassis capacity. Some Indianapolis terminals require pool chassis only, they are not allowing lift service for private chassis and containers are being left on the train or put into piles since they are unable to move them out fast enough. 

Winter weather also means inclement road conditions, we recently purchased tire snow socks for our Oakland and Denver fleets to use in lieu of snow chains. They are an impressive invention to me and I can barely drive a sedan, I can imagine real winter truck drivers must be ecstatic over these. If you have a moment check these out, super cool!

What are the port hardships this week? 

  • Oakland Further to the work disruptions and closures on Wednesday, empty return appointments for some major steamship lines are still backed up well over a couple weeks causing additional yard storage and chassis days. The gate closures are going to impact these even further along 
  • LA/LGB Empty return restrictions still in effect. Restrictions are changing on the fly, which can cause some confusion, so reach out to our subject matter experts for tips on tracking SSL returns. All chassis sizes are in short supply

What looks positive this week? 

  • Charleston Capacity is rolling, and with any luck should get better. There are no vessels at anchor, and the port is running smoothly. Complementing this, the Port is on track with its project (initially set to be completed this month)   
  • Miami Some future good news, container terminal operations expansion plan to boost box capacity by one-third will be completed by mid-2023 with the delivery of new cranes/yard equipment  

Did you know? Our Port X Logistics Vancouver office is now officially open! Did you also know? Our Canadian operations is an all female All-star team, Girl Power! Headed by an industry powerhouse Rachel R, she has been in the industry for over 20 years. Her knowledge and talents as an operations leader are helping to grow Port X Logistics Canada into new territories. Reach out to Rachel and our amazing Canada team at for all of your drayage, transload, and trucking needs! 

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