White House unveils plans to get goods moving from ship to shelf

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The Port of Los Angeles is set to move to 24/7 operation as part of a broad range of initiatives to tackle port congestion and supply chain challenges. Following up on work done by the White House’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force and port envoy John Porcari, President Biden was today set to meet with the leadership of the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to discuss the challenges at ports across the country and actions open to each partner to address delays. The administration was also set to hold a roundtable today with private sector companies, including Walmart, UPS, Home Depot, to discuss how the largest cargo owners and shipping companies can address congestion in the transportation and logistics supply chain.

According to a White House fact sheet, commitments made by these leaders moving towards 24/7 operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These two ports are the point of entry for 40% of containers to the U.S., and are on track to reach new highs in container traffic this year. Through August, Los Angeles has moved 30% more and Long Beach over 20% more containers to help U.S. exporters reach customers around the world and U.S families and factories get the goods they need.

The fact sheet notes that the Port of Long Beach expanded operations in mid-September. The Port of Los Angeles is now joining them by adding new off-peak night time shifts and weekend hours. This expansion means the Port of Los Angeles has nearly doubled the hours that cargo will be able to move out of its docks and on highways.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced its members are willing to work those extra shifts. This will add needed capacity to put towards clearing existing backlogs. This is an important first step, now the private businesses along the supply chain need to move their operations to 24/7.

Large companies are announcing they will use expanded hours to move more cargo off the docks, so ships can come to shore faster. Unlike leading ports around the world, U.S. ports have failed to realize the full possibility offered by operation on nights and weekends. Moving goods during off-peak hours can help move goods out of ports faster. For example, at the Port of Los Angeles, goods move 25% faster at night than during the day. These commitments will help unlock capacity in the rest of the system—including highways, railroads and warehouses—by reducing congestion during the day.

The commitments being announced today include:

  • America’s largest retailer, Walmart, is committing to increase its use of night-time hours significantly and projects they could increase throughput by as much as 50% over the next several weeks.
  • UPS is committing to an increased use of 24/7 operations and enhanced data sharing with the ports, which could allow it to move up to 20% more containers from the ports.
  • FedEx is committing to work to combine an increase in night time hours with changes to trucking and rail use to increase the volume of containers it will move from the ports. Once these changes are in place, they could double the volume of cargo they can move out of the ports at night.
  • Samsung is committing to move nearly 60% more containers out of these ports by operating 24/7 through the next 90 days. 72% of U.S. homes have at least one Samsung product, from appliances to consumer electronics.
  • The Home Depot is committing to move up to 10% additional containers per week during the newly available off-peak port hours at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
  • Target, which is currently moving about 50% of its containers at night, has committed to increasing that amount by 10% during the next 90 days to help ease congestion at the ports.

Across these six companies, says the fact sheet, over 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year.

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