In response to surging U.S. imports and the resulting equipment flow imbalances that have impacted the logistics sector, senior officials at Maersk said every component of the company’s integrated global logistics business model is working across the entire logistics spectrum to respond with solutions.
Maersk is also taking steps to address the concerns of the U.S. export community and the trucking industry feeling the impact during this already difficult time. The container freight giant noted that global trade patterns often result in limited availability of empty containers in the United States, which has a historic equipment imbalance of more imports than exports. This has been especially acute with U.S. import demand spiking during the COVID-19 due to changing consumer spending patterns.
“Maersk is working with the FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) chairman and commissioners, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) and Trucking Associations like the HTA on the U.S. West Coast, and the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers on the U.S. East Coast to find new and better ways to serve their needs,” Soren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk, said. “As the global integrator of container logistics, we are confident we can find workable solutions that will alleviate supply chain pain points.”
FMC chairman Michael Khouri has discussed the particular challenges facing the U.S. export community with Skou and Maersk remains committed to taking actions to improve conditions for all supply chain participants, the company noted.
“We are working closely with the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and local trucking associations to address their concerns of equipment availability and detention and demurrage issues, with more intensive meetings planned in the months ahead,” Narin Phol, Maersk North America’s regional managing director, said. “These challenges require all participants to work together and we look forward to continuing our role in bringing much-needed solutions to the current issues. FMC Commissioner Rebecca Dye has the industry knowledge, relationships and credibility to sponsor the necessary industry solutions and we appreciate her leadership on this matter.”
Maersk said surging import cargo has also been causing challenges for local truckers in major ports such as Los Angeles/Long Beach. APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles is the largest privately operated container terminal in the Los Angeles/Long Beach port and in North America. As such, it plays a pivotal role in the daily flow of cargo with the trucking community.
The Port of Los Angeles processed 889,746 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in November, a 22 percent increase compared with November 2019.
“Since August, monthly cargo volume has averaged almost 930,000 TEUs,” said Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka. “It’s unusual to see this kind of import activity this late in the year. But 2020 has been anything but normal. With consumers continuing to stay at home and purchase goods rather than services, we expect robust activity on our docks to continue for at least several months. To help stakeholders manage the cargo influx, the port has introduced new data tools for asset planning, provided additional land for chassis and containers, and is working with cargo owners large and small to prioritize their shipments.”
As a service to stakeholders, the Port of Los Angeles recently created several digital platforms. The Signal, launched in September, provides a three-week look at cargo coming into Los Angeles. The information, powered by the Port Optimizer, is updated daily at signal.portoptimizer.com.
The Return Signal, introduced in November, assists the trucking community to know when and where to return empty containers to cargo terminals throughout the San Pedro Bay complex. The Return Signal data is updated every five minutes and information can be filtered and easily customized. Data can be accessed at portoptimizer.com.
Maersk said the APM Terminals Pier 400 Los Angeles is focused on dual transactions that enable a trucker to return an empty container and pick up an import container for local delivery in the same trip. Around 65 percent of Pier 400’s gate transactions are dual transactions, and the goal is to increase this, enabling higher productivity trips for harbor truckers. Pier 400 has also offered late night, Friday gates and Saturday gates based on customer and trucker needs during the peak season.
Maersk also operates in the 2M Alliance, considered the easiest ocean carrier alliance with which to work by truckers, since the alliance consists of only two ocean carriers–Maersk and MSC–that each operate a single container terminal in the Southern California complex. This allows truckers to efficiently pickup and return containers to two facilities located near each other.