As we make our way to the 2021 halfway mark, freight continues to slowly deliver to destinations, but not without difficulties. Here’s what we’ve been seeing this month in the state of freight
Container shortages and rolling sail schedules continue to plague Asian ports as factories try to push their goods to their destinations. Premium “no roll” shipments have taken precedence over regularly scheduled sailings causing sail schedules on normal sailing dates to push departures up to 5 weeks past the original sail date. Premium sailings are more expensive but have a “no roll” policy, so once you’re booked, your shipment is guaranteed to get out on the scheduled date.
Lack of containers also continues to be an issue with forwarders scrambling for any available container to secure. A full container sailing cannot be secured if there is no container to load, so many ready dates now hinge on available containers.
Covid is also still an issue in Asia’s southern ports slowing down productivity and delaying sailings. Some ports can only accept a certain number of containers per day due to Covid restrictions.
Booking “no roll” premium sailings 4 weeks in advance has been GPI’s best defense against these port delays.
Most US ports are seeing improvement in vessel dwell time upon arrival. There’s a 0 – 2 day wait time for vessels at most US ports east, west and south. LA/LGB, Vancouver and Seattle are seeing about 6 day dwell times, and Oakland, CA has the worst ocean dwell times at 15 days. Although it doesn’t seem like it, GPI is noticing fewer delays at US ports now than we’ve seen all year. We’re hopeful that this trend will continue.
US rail terminals continue to transport containers to points of destination, however, there are more containers than the rail yards can handle. Although this is happening to many rail yards, Chicago is taking a particularly hard hit as this is the main terminal for most containers destined for the northern and central US. The main rail yards in Chicago (Chicago Rail Yard overflow lot featured in article picture) are now full and an overflow lot is being used until space opens. There are currently an estimated 2,400 containers that have arrived in Chicago and are being stored in the overflow lot. This number does not include the containers already waiting for pickup in the main lot. These containers in the overflow lot are not accessible until room is made in the main yard for trucker pickup. These containers may be sitting here for weeks before they can be picked up. This problem will be ongoing for an undetermined amount of time. Please be patient as workers try their best to get things moving again.
Shipping conditions are certainly not ideal, but we’re slowly seeing progress and a light at the end of the tunnel. It may take until the end of the year to get things running at a semblance of normalcy, but we are seeing improvement and continue to move forward in the right direction.