Finding Zen in the Chaos of Congestion

The Port of Los Angeles is drowning in congestion under a tidal wave of imports that has relentlessly battered the dockworkers and port employees since the start of the year. While the high point of over forty waiting vessels has been halved in recent weeks there is still no end in sight. After a record-setting March throughput, where the port handled almost a million containers, port officials are describing the situation as a “once-in-a-lifetime-event” with enough TEUs to stretch from Los Angeles to New York and halfway back if they were set end to end. 

With container statistics up more than 100% in almost every measurable metric, the port is working to try and make some sense of the barrage of imports. 

  • Loaded inbound containers totaled 490,115 TEUs, up 122% year on year.
  • Outbound empty containers totaled 344,585 TEUs, up 219% year on year.
  • Complete LA port handling totaled 957,599 TEUs, up 113% year on year. 

The total vessels waiting in the bay for berth are slowly coming down from a height of congestion of 40 on February 1st, down to a more reasonable mid-twenties figure that’s still causing challenges for waiting times, truck driver turn schedules, and rail wait times, all of which are over a week, contributing to the delays getting cargo out of the West Coast and into the nation. 

One of the biggest challenges facing ocean shippers is battling the space allotted to empty containers while trying to get loaded exports onto vessels. As equipment imbalances plague shippers, vessels are loaded with three times as many empty containers as loaded ones. Because time, cost, and transit are much more involved with reloading a container with exports, some carriers are just pulling empties back to the boats to return to China where they don’t have to be unloaded, reloaded, and returned and can instead be immediately loaded with exports and sent back to the US, where demand is still outstanding. 

Timing, flexibility, and patience are required by everyone involved if you’re involved in logistics. Our Edward J. Zarach & Associates team is working day and night to ensure equipment is available, loading times and schedules are met and delays, fines, and issues are kept to a minimum. By giving us as much advance notice as possible for the equipment you need and being flexible about which ports we choose we can avoid the largest congestion hiccups and utilize nearby options to keep your cargo on schedule. We have solutions for you; reach out to your Zarach representative today to see how we can help you!