Ship to shore cranes at the Port of LA
The Port of Los Angeles reported year-to-date container volumes were up in July by 36.8% over 2020 levels for a total of 6,318,675 TEUs, according to Gene Seroka executive director, Port of Los Angeles.
Imports were up by 2.9% in July 2021 compared to July 2020 for a total of 469,361 TEUs while July exports declined by 27.6% to 91,440 TEUs over 2020 numbers.
The number of empty containers being transported from the Port rose by 20.4% to 329,999 TEUs.
The continued congestion at terminals and warehouses and where “containers are hard to come by“ has slowed the ability to load and unload ships: “even so anchorages and dwell times are trending in the wrong direction. Seventy-five percent of ships stopped at anchor in July up from 50% in June.”
Seroka noted that dwell times at terminals continue at their peak of 5.3 days, on dock rail dwell time is running “over 13 days a new high” and street dwell times for trucks waiting to unload containers at warehouses is 8.3 days.
The challenge for ports, terminals and dockworkers is that even if they increased productivity in moving containers, there is congestion at other points in the supply chain that does not currently support greater velocity.
Seroka said that the Covid-related shutdown at the Port of Ningbo in China is not currently a major concern because the shutdown only involves “one of four terminals” at the Port. As a backup, cargo on ships can be shifted to nearby terminals at the Port of Shanghai and to the Yangshan Port south of Shanghai.
Seroka said that the decision by the Union Pacific and the BNSF to pause rail service to Chicago was a “difficult decision for both” companies.
He noted that at one point “the Union Pacific had 25 miles of train sitting outside their facility at Joliet, Illinois. The BNSF, at the same time, had 22 miles of train waiting entrance…cargo is simply not being picked up fast enough.”
The result, Seroka said, was that the UP and BNSF “combined they made up about 15% of our overall cargo volumes (at the Port of Los Angeles) that was paused as a result of those recent decisions. The dwell times for rail have increased because of this, but containers had no place to go. It was a tough call, but the right call”