“Port staff works closely with beneficial cargo owners and Local 21 to load or discharge a ship as safely and efficiently as possible to facilitate an open berth for the next vessel, thereby keeping down congestion in the river,” Clay said.
Because there’s congestion across the supply chain, Clay said the port is getting a high lot of out-of-sync supply and demand that causes a ripple effect.
“That is challenging to overcome given the cost and time to bring on additional assets to move cargo,” Clay said.
For example, more containers, trucks, chassis, rail cars or locomotives take time and money to build, so can’t be put into place right away to relieve congestion.
Clay said the key to an efficient supply chain is to keep vessels and cargo moving from origin to destination as quickly as possible, because “once assets start to sit, such as containers trapped onboard a ship waiting to berth, it creates even more container and ship shortages on both ends of the supply chain.”
“It also causes a surge of product that is then challenging to move out of the West Coast ports,” he said. “The increased freight quickly overwhelms the inland transportation to move it to its final destination. This entire process is called supply chain bullwhip or whiplash effect and causes severe variability in the delivery of goods.”