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Shortage of equipment adds a new wrinkle to the pandemic

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

The recent surge in consumer demand had led to every shipping vessel being utilized and a major shortage of container equipment – specifically 40-foot high cube containers, as these are the most commonly used by importers to maximize the number of products shipped and reduce costs.

In addition to the lack of containers, chassis are also becoming scarce as most are currently on the road bringing all the recently imported goods to their final destinations. The problem is especially significant at the West Coast ports, such as Los Angeles-Long Beach, as these ports are more favored by clients who import goods from Asia.

“We have seen dwell times double from three to six days as truckers hang onto chassis in fear of none being available at the terminal and importers experiencing delays due to the high volumes at their distribution facilities,” said Anthony Fullbrook, president of OEC Group’s Northeast region. “Significant delays on the West Coast in some cases has led to importers shifting their volumes to the East Coast.”

As a result, imports to the East Coast has seen double digit growth in July. Even the Port of New York and New Jersey saw a 20% increase in imports from Asia between June and July. The increase is already starting to affect the supply chain. For example, truck turn times have increased significantly in recent weeks, delaying the reuse of containers and creating a bottleneck.

“There are no blanked sailings through September, and extra sailings have been added to keep up with demand,” said Peter Hsieh, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Unfortunately, the increase in sailings did not come with an increase in available containers making the forwarders job of finding available equipment increasingly more important.”
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