May is upon us and although our supply chain issues continue, there are slight improvements in every corner. We’ll find the silver lining this month as we discuss the State of Freight in May 2022.
Covid cases are still rising in China causing supply chain woes. Many of China’s cities as well as one of China’s largest ports, Shanghai, are still on lockdown with no signs of restrictions easing. These restrictions are also making it difficult to get shipments across the border from China to the Hong Kong port. For southern China, this means most shipments are being routed through surrounding ports such as Yantian and Shekou, causing considerable backups and delays in vessel schedules and additional delivery costs. We can expect these delays to continue at least through May as the Chinese government has yet to provide a re-opening timeline. On the bright side, factories and ports alike are working their way around these restrictions to get shipments out in a timely fashion. This may mean a longer transit to port or delivering to ports earlier than usual to meet deadlines, but rest assured, your products are still making it to open water.
Here in the US, ports and terminals continue to battle congestion as we dive into May. The East Coast is still seeing shorter wait times than the West Coast. In general, East Coast shipments will be experiencing 2 to 10 day waits upon arrival and West Coast is seeing 10 to 17 day wait times with Vancouver being the most congested with 28 day wait times. Although this is still a long time to wait upon arrival to port, it’s far better than the 4 week wait times we were experiencing at most ports last year.
Rail terminals are also experiencing the same congestion as containers make their way from the seaports to the train yards. There are several factors at work to cause all of these delays and some are overlapping. Equipment allocation, labor shortages, holiday shutdowns, and chassis shortages top the list of reasons for congestion. Despite the US rail struggling to keep up, goods are still moving at a slow but steady pace. We’re beginning to see the backed-up containers leave storage yards and make their way to their final destinations.
Although we continue to see congestion due to chassis shortages throughout the US supply chain, we want to acknowledge that we are starting to see small improvements. Southern California truckers are covering the rail terminals well, so dwell time there is at a minimum. Chicago is seeing 6-day delivery times from train arrival to warehouse delivery. Containers and loaded trucks are on the move across America.
It’s important to keep in mind that throughout the pandemic, lockdowns, congestion, and delays, freight volume for the United States continues to climb year over year. So, despite seeing higher import volumes in the past 3 years than we’ve ever seen previously, we are still keeping up with the supply chain. Yes, it’s stalled in places and bottle-necked in others, but we’re keeping up, and not only that, but we’re also improving. There’s a lot to be said about that. As always, if you have any questions about your specific shipment, please reach out to me and I’ll be glad to address any concerns you may have.