Port of Los Angeles moves to 24/7 operations

Port of Los Angeles moves to 24/7 operations
President Biden at the Port of Long Beach last year

President Joe Biden has announced that the Port of Los Angeles will expand to 24/7 operations, as the US battles to overcome significant supply chain disruption heading into the holiday season.

The Port of Long Beach expanded operations at one of its terminals to overnight shifts in September and its neighbour the Port of Los Angeles is now joining it by adding new off-peak night time shifts and weekend hours.

This expansion means that the US West Coast hub has nearly doubled the hours that cargo will be able to move out of its docks and on highways.

According to the White House, goods move 25% faster at night than during the day at Los Angeles, which is the largest container port in the US.

As of October 8, more than 50 container vessels were at anchor or drifting awaiting berths at Los Angeles or Long Beach, with port volumes up 30% this year and import waiting times reaching an average of six days for truck pick-ups.

President Biden stated: “This is the first key step toward moving our entire freight transportation and logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system. Traditionally our ports have only been open during the week Monday through Friday and they’re generally closed down at nights and at weekends.

“By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles will be open an extra 60 hours a week. In total that will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business from earlier this year.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced its members are willing to work those extra shifts.

Gene Seroka, executive director at the Port of Los Angeles, said: “Operational details are being discussed and worked out with the supply chain stakeholders.

“The significance of today’s announcement is the commitment from industry leaders responsible for moving goods on behalf of American consumers and businesses to open up the capacity needed to deliver.  It’s a call to action for others to follow.”

Mario Cordero, executive director at the Port of Long Beach, noted: “Before this unprecedented cargo surge began, we believed 24/7 operations were the future.

“After all, consumers can shop online at any time, whether it’s at 4pm or 4am, and 24/7 is already the standard at our partner ports in Asia. The supply chain truly never stops now.”

In addition, several large companies have committed to increasing their use of night-time hours with the nation’s largest retailer Walmart noting it could increase throughput by 50% over the next few weeks.

UPS has committed to increased use of 24/7 operations and enhanced data sharing with the ports, potentially allowing it to move up to 20% more containers, while FedEx hopes to double the volume of cargo it moves out of the ports at night.

Samsung, the Home Depot and Target are also planning to contribute to the increase in off-peak cargo.

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

President Biden claimed that the US would have to alter its supply chain model, focusing on delivering more resilience rather than lean operations.

He added: “The world has changed. Prior to the crisis, we focused on lean efficient supply chains, leaving no buffer or margin for error when it comes for certain parts arriving JIT – as needed to make a final product.

“We need to take a longer view though and invest in building greater resilience to withstand the kind of shocks we’ve seen over and over, year in and year out – whether it’s the pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, cyber attacks or other disruptions.

“Research tells us that a company can expect to lose up over 40% of one year’s earnings every 10 years through the supply chain disruptions. A longer term view means we invest in systems that are more time built in and our ability to produce, innovate and partner with our allies.”