The year 2020. A year that everyone and everything in our world changed unexpectedly. The COVID-19 pandemic struck with such a surprise changing life as we know it in every way possible. Quickly after the announcements of COVID coming to the United States, each nation had tremendous outbreaks left and right. This caused governors and officials to shut down entire cities and states while ordering a stay-at-home mandate for all. People were out of jobs and dying, companies were closing or going bankrupt, and everyone just wanted to return to a sense of normalcy. Little did we know on how long this disease would be affecting our lives. As we are soon coming to a close on the year 2021, we still must worry about taking precautions and being able to adapt to new ways of life. This is especially shown in companies trying to get their goods to customers in adequate time and figuring out exactly how to deal with fixing these problems they are facing.
A particular transportation company that has been struggling with the effects of COVID, and still is daily is the Long Beach Port which is located on the coast of California. This port is the second busiest container port in the United States, right after the Los Angeles port, which it is adjacent to, together dealing with 40% of the nation’s imports. The traffic in these ports has jumped up 50% since the pandemic and increases almost daily. This means that there is going to be delays in shipments and the customers or suppliers will not get their goods on time. The ports are so jammed up that there is around 88 cargo ships that are in drift or anchored that are awaiting berth assignments to unload containers. However, there is not enough room in the ports terminals to be able to unload the containers on every ship as well as not enough rail cars to be able to haul them away. Right now, for the containers there is about a 6 day wait for truck pick up which means these containers are just sitting there taking up space, time and money.
During the pandemic everyone freaked out and wanted to stock up on supplies to make sure that they would not run out. The demand for all goods skyrocketed and stores only had a limited supply that they were given because the transportation companies could not keep up with this high demand all at once. This is what is being seen in the Long Beach Port with the high global demands and too much dwell time. This dwell time is also causing an effect on the trucking companies that pick up these containers from the port. It becomes a domino effect in the supply chain when one delay occurs, it causes delay after delay until the entire process is affected, which is exactly what we are dealing with in the ports. The volume at the port is up 30% this year and does not look like it is going down anytime soon. With this, the port is moving toward a 24/7 operation system. Ports have contacted marine terminal operators to be able to increase gate hours as much as possible. They will also work with the trucking services to move the cargo during non-peak hours to hopefully reduce the congestion. This will be able to maximize cargo throughput and reduce the chaos that the ports have been dealing with.
The holiday season is always a hectic time of the year especially with holiday shopping. Years before COVID, toys would sell out during the last couple weeks of December from parents trying to buy presents for their kids. Now with the presence of COVID in our everyday lives we are going to see this even more in times of high demand like the holidays. There is not going to be as large of a variety of toys or gifts to choose from this year which is going to limit peoples’ choices of particular products. Companies are urging people to purchase holiday gifts as soon as possible to eliminate this risk. Retailers like Target and Walmart, are working now to avoid these shortages coming up by shipping earlier than usual, considering shipping via airplane and even finding different routes and ports for the container ships. With this cargo surge that is predicted to continue into 2022, companies and transportation services must plan ahead to steer clear of any problems with products and make sure their customers are satisfied. COVID is obviously going to put a snag in operations in years to come so we must all learn how to deal with these issues and be able to rise above them making continuous changes to determine what works best.
Authored by: Alaina Chambers