There are several factors contributing to the terrible congestion at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which is proving costly for shippers.
Read about 5 Factors Causing Congestion at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach here.
Chassis Crisis Causing Congestion
Many, including Port of Long Beach officials, are pointing to one issue as the largest contributor to the congestion problems at the nation’s two largest ports by volume: chassis. Or a lack there of.
The following came out of a recent news release from the Port of Long Beach:
“We’ve been facilitating discussions about chassis issues for some time,” said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup. “Working with the Harbor Commission’s port efficiency subcommittee, we determined that the root cause of the current congestion crisis is the lack of chassis to support peak-level volumes – and no one else was stepping up to address this critical problem.”
It’s not necessarily a problem of not enough chassis being out there. Often, there is a chassis imbalance where some terminals have plenty of chassis while others have none. In the end, the problem is the same: chassis aren’t available where and when needed for moving freight.
If you’re not familiar with the chassis situation or chassis crisis, as it has been dubbed, you can check out these blogs about it:
The chassis situation has really been exacerbated lately by the combination of the peak season, where imports increase for stores to stock up for the holiday season, and carrier alliances using bigger ships to deliver larger quantities of freight at once.
These factors raise the demand for chassis, which already have poor availability.
Port of Long Beach Addresses the Problem
Finally, it looks like the Port of Long Beach is stepping up to bring solutions to the chassis crisis and terrible port congestion.
In that Port of Long Beach news release quoted above, the following was reported:
At the Oct. 13 meeting, Port staff was directed by the full Harbor Commission at the urging of Slangerup to come up with a proposal within 30 days to obtain additional chassis. If needed, the Port would prepare to establish an organization to purchase, service and manage a pool of supplemental chassis to provide relief whenever there is a shortage of privately owned chassis.
…Port of Long Beach officials convinced two major chassis leasing companies, Direct Chassis Link Inc. and TRAC Intermodal, to add more than 3,000 chassis to the local fleet in the next couple months to provide short-term congestion relief.
It also created a Congestion Relief Team that meets daily to monitor terminal performance and collaborate with industry stakeholders on potential solutions.
With thousands of chassis being pumped into the port, and plans to make them accessible where and when needed, shippers and truckers are hoping to see congestion alleviated.
New Port Leadership Gives Reason for Optimism
“This current peak congestion crisis is something that was avoidable,” Slangerup was quoted as saying in the Port of Long Beach news release, “and we are taking the necessary steps to prevent any such problems from happening again.”
Here’s a little information on Mr. Slangerup from the Port of Long Beach‘s website:
Jon W. Slangerup was named the Port of Long Beach’s Chief Executive in June 2014 by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commmissioners.
Mr. Slangerup comes to the Port with 34 years of corporate leadership experience and for the past 20 years has served as a president, CEO and/or director of both public and private companies. With expertise in aviation, logistics and clean technologies, Mr. Slangerup has built global businesses ranging from technology startups to a billion-dollar subsidiary of FedEx.
That he is leading the port in addressing this chassis problem head on, something that would probably not have been seen from ports in years past, gives optimism that such problems may actually be prevented in the future as his quote above says.
The Port of Los Angeles also got new leadership in June as they hired Gene Seroka as Executive Director.
Both of these leaders, Slangerup and Seroka, are expected to be more proactive in making the country’s largest volume ports efficient, effective, and attractive to customers.