As the automotive supply chain grapples with challenges ranging from import volume vicissitudes to continuing COVID-19 pandemic impacts, a quartet of roll-on/roll-off cargo veterans with more than a century of combined industry experience offers hope that a return to some level of normalcy is not far away.

In separate interviews with AJOT, the four executives – representing AMPORTS Inc.., Ceres Terminals Inc. and fledgling AutoMOBILE International Terminal LLC – share insights on how players in the finished vehicle supply chain are coping.

AMPORTS Inc. counts marine terminal facilities at the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, among its operations.
AMPORTS Inc. counts marine terminal facilities at the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, among its operations.

“Today’s current environment in the finished vehicle industry is one of many unknowns,” said Ben Buben, chief operating officer of automotive processor AMPORTS Inc., who is in his second year with AMPORTS following more than a decade with The Pasha Group.

“Usually, this time of year,” Buben said, “everyone in the industry is positioning themselves for a solid year-end push, as has been the case for the past 20-plus years. “However, this year, we may be in store for a very different scenario as the semiconductor issue has thrown a wrench into everyone’s plans,” he continued, citing the recent shortage of semiconductors that has disrupted operations of automakers, also known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs.

Ben Buben, chief operating officer of AMPORTS Inc., is remaining optimistic amid challenges.
Ben Buben, chief operating officer of AMPORTS Inc.,
is remaining optimistic amid challenges.

Buben said the result has been “a delicate balance of managing labor to the estimated volumes and trimming costs to protect the bottom line.”

“Over the past two months, we have seen production number cuts between 40 and 50 percent at plants around the world due to the shortage, but the estimated volumes for the fourth quarter remain elevated in the hope the shortage will come to an end,” he said. “It is a balancing act, and our operations teams at AMPORTS have so far done an outstanding job managing to customers’ expectations. I’m optimistic that the fourth quarter will be better than expected.”

At ro/ro terminal operator Ceres, a pair of executives coincidentally named Doug sees similar challenges.

“Currently, the single biggest challenge we all face – OEMs, carriers, port authorities, terminal operators and processors – is demand forecasting,” said Doug Hansen, chief commercial officer of Ceres, who has 23 years of industry experience under his belt.

“Understanding what is coming is fundamental for budgeting the business needs, hiring managers and working with the ILA [International Longshoremen’s Association] and ILWU [International Longshore and Warehouse Union] to ensure there are sufficient trained longshoremen,” Hansen continued.

Doug Hansen, chief commercial officer of Ceres Terminals Inc., believes communication is critical.
Doug Hansen, chief commercial
officer of Ceres Terminals Inc.,
believes communication is critical.

Ceres is attentively collaborating with all partners,…

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