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OceanWaves: Los Angeles port boss lays out congestion-fighting plan

OceanWaves: Los Angeles port boss lays out congestion-fighting plan

container shipping

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ OceanWaves Summit.

TOPIC: Port perspective on managing import surge

DETAILS: Ocean carrier arrivals are surging, while the capacity of rail, trucking and warehousing is limited. How can the Port of Los Angeles dig out with a record number of ships waiting at anchor? And how long could this last?

SPEAKERS: Gene Seroka, executive director, Port of Los Angeles, and Greg Miller, senior editor, American Shipper and FreightWaves

BIO: Seroka interacts with a wide range of stakeholders, including port customers around the globe, industry partners, elected and appointed officials at all levels, business leaders, and local residents. He is responsible for managing a budget of more than $1.6 billion budget, advancing major capital projects, growing trade volumes and promoting innovative, sustainable practices that strengthen the region’s economy.

KEY QUOTES FROM SEROKA:

On the wave of inbound vessels: “The twin port of Los Angeles and Long Beach will probably manage about 20 million twenty-foot equivalent units this year, with the next closest port at 7-8 million TEUs, so trying to move our excess cargo to other ports was a fleeting aspiration that really never got traction [when proposed in Q1]. We’ve seen the highest level of output from factories in Asia in recorded history, yet they’re still behind on orders. Year over year, the trans-Pacific trade has seen a 30% increase in vessel capacity, and we still leave containers behind in Asia. It’s not just the three alliances and their carriers. We have no less than 10 new entrants to the trade, and we’ve also seen a handful of major U.S. retailers charter their own vessels.”

On calls for 24/7 port operations: “Thirty percent of all the available truck appointments go unused every day. Yes, we may all aspire to a 24/7 supply chain, but let’s start first where we have the skilled workers on the job and the gates are open and the capacity is there for us to utilize, so we can squeeze out every hour of productivity before we start talking about adding cost to the supply chain and getting into this inflationary discussion if we just try to throw money at this. Let’s take advantage of the capacity we have in front of us today.”

On adding more longshore labor: “We’ve seen the rank-and-file members of the ILWU [labor union] on the job an average of six days per week, every week. There are a little more than 15,000 longshore members, with about 8,000-plus registered with Class A and Class B credentials and 7,000 ‘casuals’ or apprentices. We’ve added about 1,000 longshore members in total — both registered and casual — over the past several months, and there has been an aggressive training program, because we need all the help we can get. The casual workforce has been out [working] in the high 90% range, meaning that all the casuals who are out there are on the job most days. To expand even beyond this is something that both the employers association and the union will continue to evaluate, to bring as many workers to the docks as we possibly can.”

Click for more articles by Greg Miller 


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6 October 2021, 16:30