August 19, 2015

They say there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but if the  bill for said spillage were to run into billions of dollars, we can forgive the nation’s retailers for shedding a tear or two.

(At some points during the west coast’s congestion problem, it probably wasn’t unusual to see some operations managers in the fetal position, weeping inconsolably.)

With all of that in the distant past, however, importers can now move onwards and upwards into the next peak season, right?

Wrong. Continue reading Slower Peak Season: West Coast Hangover or Improvements from Importers?

January 16, 2015

West Coast importers are feeling the burn of a labor dispute dating back to the middle of last year. 

Unfortunately, the culprit depends on your perspective and no-one’s quite sure just how much it’s hurting. What everyone agrees is that the sooner the dispute is over, the sooner the supply chain can get back to business as usual.

Cranes at Port of Long Beach
Cranes at the Port of Long Beach are seeing less action than usual as the labor dispute drags on.

Workers at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach are out of contract, demanding new terms and accusing their management counterparts of organizing insufficient labor, while they themselves are accused of deliberately slowing down operations to influence a decision in their favor.

The dispute spilled out of the office and on to the docks over the holidays, disrupting daily operations and delaying stock movements that some retailers were relying on for their sales during this crucial period. Even so, not everyone is aware of the congestion and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith believes it has been underestimated, telling the LA Times:

“The slowdown in the West Coast ports has been a much bigger deal than people think. I suspect that you’ll see a lot of purchases of gift cards in lieu of merchandise.”

Regardless of who’s to blame, or the exact economic impact of the delays, no-one who relies on cargo coming in through Pacific shipping routes is happy. Congestion at North America’s busiest port – approximately 40% of all U.S. imports come in via Los Angeles – has a knock-on effect up and down the coast, delaying shipments and threatening the livelihoods of many as stock fails to arrive and customer orders aren’t filled.

So aside from waiting out the negotiations or shutting up shop, what options are open to businesses moving cargo into the country?

Going Bi-Coastal

Question mark bubbleWhile it sounds like more of a personal lifestyle choice, a bi-coastal import solution is firmly rooted in logistics and is one of the more flexible ways to keep your business moving, if and when adverse weather, strikes or some other major issue gums up the works on one of the coasts.

We operate storage and distribution facilities out of both the Tri-state area (based in New Jersey) and Los Angeles for just that reason. If you come to Capacity with a question about the best way to bring cargo into the country, we can factor in the latest conditions and offer the most efficient route.

If it seems like the opposite coast would just take too much time, consider the visual presented in this article, with lines of container ships (now into double figures at times) struggling to even berth in Los Angeles. That’s thousands of containers just sitting in line, with limited resources – and perhaps dwindling desire – to unload them. Add to that the fact that night shifts were recently withdrawn and you have delay stretching from days and potentially into weeks, just to unload a vessel (which usually takes hours) and move products out of the port.

Even if everything is resolved soon, the port’s past (and the nature of this business called logistics that we love) suggests that it won’t be the last time this happens. Whether your products come in via the east or west, having the option to use either coast as a back up is an attractive alternative that might make all the difference when it comes to satisfying your customers.

We’ll keep you up to date on all the latest news and views from the port of Los Angeles, as well as other major issues emanating around our industry.

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July 8, 2014
Long Beach container port. Original descriptio...
Long Beach container port.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We like to keep you up to date with what’s going on in and around the world of supply chain logistics.

As facts and figures start to flow in at the start of the month, we’ll be reporting what we see to keep you up to speed with our rapidly-moving industry.

Here’s what we have for the logistics industry in June, including reports released last month that cover wider periods and trends:

  • A CSCMP report highlights that total U.S. business logistics costs rose to $1.39 trillion in 2013, a 2.3% increase on 2012. 
  • The month ended with concerns over a trucker strike at the Port of Los Angeles / Long Beach over “unfair labor practices,” but subsequent reports indicate that  the parties are closer to agreement than previously thought.

 

If there are any industry headlines that you’d like us to focus on in more depth this month, don’t hesitate to let us know on FacebookGoogle+, or Twitter.

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