Terminal Congestion and Import Service Delays

As we are sure you are aware, many importers (and exporters!) are experiencing continued and growing supply chain challenges.  Persistent port and rail ramp congestion, container chassis shortages, excessive detention and demurrage fees from carriers, and upheaval among air cargo service providers are all contributing to this mess.

As a client or associate of WB Skinner, we want to keep you informed of the current situation and provide you with the following updates.

Terminal Delays

Most terminals are experiencing moderate to severe congestion issues and delays. Unprecedented high volumes essentially everywhere, critical labor and equipment shortages, and reduction in yard space and downstream warehousing capacity are all contributing to this backup.

  • On the East Coast, NY/NJ vessels are averaging wait times of up to two days, while Savannah can expect delays of 2-4 days and the remainder of the East Coast Ports project delays from four to as long as 16 days.  
  • West Coast vessel arrival waiting times range between 26-38 days. Imports into smaller ports such as Seattle and Oakland should expect delays from 3-15 days.
  • In the Gulf, Houston wait times are up to 10 days, and can be further compounded by weather events.

Warehouse and Storage Capacity

While the log jams at West Coast ports have gotten much media attention, a glut of containers is stacking up at the ports, indicative of one of the newest struggles in our supply chain. 

For the year to August, imports at the port of New York and New Jersey were 26.4 per cent higher than for the same period in 2020. The warehouses where those container loads would normally head first before being distributed are struggling to meet the unprecedented demand. According to the Financial Times, warehouse operators problems are compounded as they face shortages of everything they need to run their facilities efficiently, from racks and balers to forklift trucks and staff.

Equipment Shortages

Unprecedented chassis shortages continue in essentially all major terminals, including New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles/Long Beach, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Columbus, Cleveland, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, Nashville, and Louisville.

Additional equipment availability remains an issue at Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Memphis, Nashville, Omaha, St. Louis, South Florida, and Seattle.

WB Skinner at Your Side

Unprecedented challenges are all-encompassing, affecting ports, carriers, railroads, and trucking throughout the United States. As the front-line representative of your supply chain, please be assured that we will do our very best to help your business successfully navigate through this difficult period.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Supply Chain Update: Dwindling Warehouse Space

While the log jams at west cost ports has gotten much media attention,  a glut of containers is stacking up at the Port of New York and New Jersey,  indicative of one of the newest struggles in our supply chain.  Rebounding consumer demand has led to record imports through US ports on both coasts and strained every link in the supply chain, including warehouse space.

For the year to August, imports at the port of New York and New Jersey were 26.4 per cent higher than for the same period in 2020. The warehouses where those container loads would normally head first before being distributed are struggling to meet the unprecedented demand.

According to the Financial Times, warehouse operators problems are compounded as they face shortages of everything they need to run their facilities efficiently, from racks and balers to forklift trucks and staff. This equipment is caught in the same shipping delays as other imports.

Since our company operates in the middle of the supply chain, on your behalf, we must contend with untangling these persistent transportation logistics challenges the best we can. WB Skinner is leveraging our decades of experience and industry relationships to help meet clients’ needs for temporary warehousing and distribution of merchandise on the east coast.

We also offer our New York and New Jersey area importers a unique container strip and ship service. We unload the merchandise from the container, separate and load the cartons or drums onto new pallets by batch number, and shrink wrap it. Once it is all shrink wrapped, we arrange for a trucker to pick it up and schedule a delivery to your customer’s loading dock.

We are continuing to monitor these updates and doing our utmost to overcome these hurdles by communicating our collective frustrations to the nation’s container ports and carriers, as well as to the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, which has taken great interest in this matter. Collectively, our goal, like yours, is to find a quick and sensible resolution to our nation’s troubled supply chain.

Congestion Risks and Delays at North American Ports

Industry leaders are warning that pressures on the North American container shipping system are rising, risking even greater congestion in the beginning of 2021. In November, East Coast ports were challenged with handling a 30 percent year-over-year increase in imports from Asia, but have so far been able to avoid the gridlock that is gripping the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

We are now seeing bottlenecks beginning to form outside Southeast ports, which until now have maintained fluidity. Sign of delays are noticeable with cargo stacking up at nearby warehouses, truck capacity tightening, and chassis dwells lengthening, Uffe Ostergaard, Hapag-Lloyd’s president, Americas, told JOC.com in a Tuesday interview. “Average turn times and berth productivity at major US ports are under pressure, reflecting increased strain on the container shipping system,” said Ostergaard.

“It’s a different narrative here,” Sam Ruda, director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told JOC.com Tuesday, although there is tightness throughout the New York-New Jersey supply chain, including mounting container dwell times at marine terminals and chassis dwell times at warehouses.

“The gateway remains pretty fluid,” Ruda said. However, three non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOs) said early warning signs surfacing at major East Coast gateways are similar to what they saw in Southern California this summer. The Federal Maritime Commission last month launched a fact-finding mission.

Indeed, New York-New Jersey is experiencing higher equipment dwell times during the import surge, said Bethann Rooney, deputy director of the port department. Average container dwell times at the six container terminals in New York-New Jersey are five to seven days compared with three to four days normally, while average chassis dwell times at warehouses are up to 15 days from three to four days earlier this year, she said.

East Coast ports hope to avoid the congestion that Los Angeles-Long Beach has experienced from an unprecedented spike in imports since late June. Vessel bunching, delays of several days in vessel berthing, congested marine terminals, long truck lines at terminal gates, chassis shortages owing to excessive street dwell times, and import warehouses filled beyond capacity have plagued the Southern California gateway since summer.

The situation remains very fluid. We are advising clients to do the following:

  • At a minimum add two weeks to your typical transit times.
  • Plan for congestion fees from the truckers as they spend hours in the port retrieving containers.
  • Know whether your imports are affected and decide what you’re going to do about it.

If you have a question about whether your products are affected by these delays, WB Skinner may be able to help. We can tell you what impact the delays might have on your shipments, and might be able to suggest a few options to help you to avoid delays.

Join WB Skinner at the Industry Event of the Year: 2018 NYNJ Brokers Association Dinner

I hope you will join me, our entire WB Skinner staff, and the many distinguished industry guests at the annual NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders & Brokers Association on February 1 in New York City.  It is the largest event of its kind in our industry, with more than 700 attendees. I know you will want to be among them!

We will be honoring Roy Amalfitano, Vice Chairman of Evergreen Shipping Agency (America) Corp. as our 2018 Person of the Year. The award will be presented at the festive evening in the beautiful Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

This year I also have the privilege to be President of the Association as well as a long-time member and supporter of the industry. I would be honored to have you support this great event and join us for this special occasion. For tickets, ads and sponsorship opportunities please click HERE. If you are in the importing business, you won’t want to miss it!
 
 
Bill Skinner is President of the NY/NJFFFBA Board of Directors. He has also been chairman of the Association’s Annual Awards Dinner since 2008.
 

GSP Expires on December 31, 2017 – What You Should Know

Once again, the Generalized System of Preferences Act (GSP) will be expiring on December 31. With no Congressional authority for renewal in sight before then, importers should be prepared to act as usual during the lapse.

The GSP Act, which provides duty-free treatment to importers of goods from designated beneficiary countries, periodically expires and must be renewed by Congress. All previous GSP renewals that have taken effect after a lapse have had a retroactive clause that provided refunds to importers of eligible goods imported during the lapse period.

What Should You Do?

Until the Act is renewed, WB Skinner encourages you to continue to flag GSP-eligible importations with the SPI “A” designation even as you pay normal trade relations (column 1) duty rates on otherwise GSP-eligible importations.   Refunds will be done directly by CBP, which this year is working towards automating the refunds to enable quicker payment.

If you are a current client of WB Skinner, you will receive your refunds automatically. Contact us for more information.

If you are not a current WB Skinner client, contact us to find out how to receive your refunds.

If you have any questions about your shipments, from how to ensure their safe and effective delivery to ensuring the most cost-efficient procedures, you can count on us to help. And we guarantee you will be greeted by one of our experienced partners, not shuttled off to a junior associate or a voice mail.

Check back at wbskinner.com for updates or contact us for more information.