Los Angeles is home to the biggest port in North America. In fact, it’s home to two: the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. In a post-pandemic world, transportation and shipping are two things that have seen the biggest hit. Global supply chains slow down no matter where you are in the world, and ports need to rely on other ports halfway around the globe to keep moving. With the largest port in the world, the Port of Shanghai, revamping back to normal, it might be safe to say that transportation will never truly go back to normal in a post pandemic world.
42% of all containerized trade with East Asia passes from Shanghai to Los Angeles. These important ports mark the beginning of the journey for parts and supplies for many companies. Since the pandemic, both ports have reduced capacity and hours. This caused companies like major automakers like Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mazda, and GM to scale back in Shanghai due to the lack of parts. However, despite continuing employee shortages, the port of Shanghai wants to scale up to normal capacity this month. Even though many people in Shanghai are still under full lockdown procedures. This means lower efficiency, staff and driver shortages, and no real way to get back to normal operating procedures despite what they promised. All of these backups create a trickle-down effect that slows down supply chains all around the globe.
Port of Los Angeles has more than just Employee Shortages
With these slowdowns, Los Angeles’ ports saw the most scrutiny during the pandemic. Container ships dotted the horizon from Los Angeles all the way down to San Diego as wait times to unload caused an executive order from the President to speed things along. Port authorities claim they need more rail assets and call out truck backups. BNSF and Union Pacific are the two rail companies that serve the Port of Los Angeles, but BNSF is in the middle of a labor dispute. Over a thousand workers have resigned from BNSF since February. Meanwhile, Union Pacific is also short-staffed and has only hired half of its target goal to meet operational demands. Still, some say the rails aren’t the only issue.
During typical business hours, 53% of truck gates are free. This is still when load and unload times are at a record high. The ports moved to a 24 hour operation after the presidential decree, but the reality is very different. Truckers still typically come in the middle of the day. Even if the port is open 24 hours, that doesn’t mean the rest of the supply chain is open 24 hours. Truckers still need to check in with dispatchers, distribution centers, and more. Furthermore, longshoremen and other employees they need to load their cargo onto the truck don’t always work 24 hours either. Most truckers don’t want to risk waiting 2 or 3 hours for their cargo only to find out half way through loading that they can’t finish loading until the next shift. It’s safer to just come in the middle of the day when they can be sure the cargo can be loaded.
Port Authorities Have a Solution – Work More
All of these issues create supply chain delays. Even if one port finds a solution, they still need to wait for the other port to do the same. Linking this together can get frustrating, but both Shanghai and Los Angeles are in the process of finding a solution. If that means more rail support to move Los Angeles or more employee support to move Shanghai. In any case, Los Angeles will soon be easier to work with after hours. Port officials and longshoremen should come to an agreement soon to continue to work a 24-hour situation to keep the port moving at all hours.