As reported by multiple media outlets, congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has grown worse in recent days. According to industry experts, large gateway ports throughout North America have struggled with congestion throughout 2014 as a result of numerous challenges, including brutal winter weather, rail car shortages and widespread truck/driver shortages. However, the current congestion at LA-Long Beach, is being blamed almost universally on one issue: chassis shortages.
In discussing congestion at the Port of Long Beach, Executive Director Jon Slangerup recenty stated: “The root cause is chassis.”
“The root of all evils in the harbor is the chassis shortage,” concurred PMA President Jim McKenna. “We’re using 20% more labor to do 1% more volume; we’re doing a lot of work.”
Executives from trucking companies and terminal operators agree, noting that “the chaos” began when shipping lines in Southern California stopped providing chassis to their customers earlier this year. In general, chassis are in short supply throughout the region, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, or out-of-service altogether.
According to the individual ports, combined container throughput at LA/Long Beach through August is up 4.5% versus the same period in 2013. The ports have applied to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for permission to work together to develop a joint solution, but until that permission is granted, they must address the problem separately.
The Port of Long Beach and local chassis leasing companies are currently working on short, medium and long-term action plans. According to Slangerup, short-term equipment tracking and reporting measures are designed to provide relief in coming weeks, while the long-term goal is to implement a neutral (or gray) chassis concept in which a “pool of pools” would be formed, providing inter-operability of chassis throughout the port complex.
SPARX logistics will continue to monitor this issue and keep our customers apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions concerning specific shipments, please feel free to contact your SPARX representative.