BOC Customer Advisory
Transpacific faces challenges impacting all of supply chain
Dear Valued Customers,
With this advisory, BOC aims to provide you as our valued customer with the most relevant and up-to-date information to help you navigate this period of heightened volatility.
- Shanghai and Yantian port operations are starting to experience increased congestion challenges as peak season volume pressure ramps up. Both ports are now experiencing 5-6-day delays on average.
- Equipment Availability in Asia is now at critical levels in several locations with the situation being most dire in both Vietnam and Indonesia, while South China also remains stressed. In Vietnam, the ongoing congestion challenges in Vung Tau it set to deteriorate even further as the region sees a spike in COVID-19 cases. With further lockdowns now introduced, this could very well be the source of the next major supply chain disruption headline in the coming days.
- Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach improving but still heavily congested. We have 10-15 vessels at anchorage awaiting a berth. All large vessels are limited to 4 gangs and are experiencing extended port stays by on average 3-4 days.
- Port of Oakland vessel wait times have improved to an average of 7-10 days. The heavy congestion, however, has forced shipping lines to limit or omit their scheduled calls. All vessels have been limited to 2 gangs per shift due to continued labor constraints in meeting the high-volume demand.
- Port Yard Utilization at Seattle remains at capacity (120%), with labor restrictions also kept in place pending yard availability improvements. In Prince Rupert, the situation remains pressed with yard operations at 106% to capacity while in Vancouver, the situation is expected to deteriorate over the coming days due to the rail service disruptions brought on by the Lytton wildfires in Canada.
- Truck Capacity and Chassis Availability are in short supply across select locations. The situation is most critical across the Mid-West, Southeast, and Newark.
Yantian Terminal Operations Recovery at a Tipping Point
The situation in Yantian continues to improve with terminal operations slowly returning to normal levels, but as peak volume flows begin to ramp up, the recovery may well be put to test. Vessel wait times that had recovered to within a day have now crept back up to the 5-6-day range. While yard density remains at manageable levels, the challenge from here is largely centered around the clearance of what can only be described as a significant backlog of cargo sitting at customer’s facilities or on factory floors.
There are three factors at play that need to come together in order to resolve the issue. The first and likely most pressing is in the availability of equipment. As many vessels were forced to omit the port during the peak of the COVID outbreak, opportunities to reposition empties into the area were as a result limited. Today we are seeing a shortage of 40’/40HC/45’ in South China. While we are actively working on repositioning containers into the area, customers are asked to where possible substitute their equipment with 20’ containers to alleviate the pressure. The second factor is in the available carrier capacity. While the possibility of introducing additional vessels into the network remains limited, as an alternative we are instead over-allocating space to Yantian cargo on existing vessel calls to help clear the backlog. The final piece to the puzzle is dependent on the continued normalization of operations at the South China ports. Daily truck quotas for laden container return continue to increase but with vessel wait times once again creeping up, this poses a serious risk to the overall recovery.
Empty Equipment Stock in North America is Rising Once Again
The container equipment stock status across North America continues to ebb and flow as supply chain disruptions make repositioning efforts incredibly complex and challenging. While the initial drop in volume brought on by the Yantian disruption had allowed the teams the opportunity to clear out some of the excess stock, the slide sailings that followed had the opposite effect as empties sat awaiting vessel arrivals for repositioning back to Asia. Now with the peak surge, severe congestion in select areas are contributing to slower empty returns. This is not only hurting exporters as chassis availability becomes limited but it’s also causing vessels to return to light or underutilized thus exacerbating the equipment shortage in Asia.
To help combat this shortage we have introduced both Extra Loaders and Gap Loaders to help normalize the network and to move surplus empties back to Asia. Our success is still heavily dependent on customer’s support in turning empty containers back as quickly as possible, particularly in the Pacific Southwest where the situation is most pressed. Also, worth noting as the Wildfires in British Columbia persists, given the dangers, rail providers are prioritizing containment operations rather than container movement. As a result, we expect to see equipment shortages across the West Coast with inland stocks set to rise in the coming weeks.
Trucking Capacity Continues to Tighten in Select Locations
Truck capacity and chassis availability remain a major concern in several locations across North America. The primary challenge in the Northeast is in the limited availability of chassis in the Newark area due to an increase in cargo dwell time. In the Gulf area, Dallas is experiencing reduced truck capacity for long-haul moves while Houston is struggling with both truck and chassis availability. This continues to impact imports departing from Bayport, Barbours CT, and BNSF Pearland as well as exports originating in Houston and West Texas. Mobile and New Orleans are also experiencing reduced truck capacity, with some providers now fully booked through to the end of July.
In the South Atlantic, volumes in Memphis is once again surging, the I-40 bridge closure is still causing capacity issues into west Memphis as drivers are either declining the load or charging a premium for doing so. The bridge is still on schedule to be opened by end of July. In Atlanta, the chassis shortage continues to cause major delays for import rail cargo out of Fairburn. While in the Midwest area we are seeing chassis shortages across the region. As cargo dwell time continues to rise, it is proving to be extremely difficult to source truck or chassis capacity for exports out of Chicago.
Union Pacific suspends inbound international container shipments to Chicago for a week
By Bill Stephens | July 14, 2021, www.trains.com
Embargo will allow railroad to address backlog at Global IV facility
OMAHA, Neb. – In the latest pandemic-related disruption, Union Pacific has told customers it will halt all shipments of international containers from West Coast ports to its Global IV terminal in Chicago for up to a week.
The embargo, scheduled to begin on Sunday night, will help the railroad clear a container backlog at Global IV. The terminal is clogged largely due to reasons beyond the railroad’s control. Labor shortages and pandemic-related restrictions have slowed unloading and loading of containers at customer facilities. That has led to a shortage of chassis and drayage capacity during a period of high demand.
Other railroads, including BNSF Railway and Norfolk Southern, also have taken steps at various times this year to limit inbound volume at congested terminals in Memphis, Chicago, and elsewhere on their systems.
Intermodal analyst Larry Gross says UP’s move will create massive backups at West Coast ports, which are already busy as retailers are looking to keep up with consumer demand and aim to restock depleted inventories at their warehouses and store shelves.
As many as 40,000 twenty-foot equivalent units — or TEUs, the standard measure of international containers — will be stuck at West Coast ports over the next week due to the UP embargo, Gross says. That’s equivalent to 50 double-stack trains, each with 200 wells and a capacity for 800 TEU.
“The biggest issue seems to be a shortage of pool chassis to support normal operations at this wheeled terminal,” Gross says of the congestion at Global IV. “But I’m told that if a drayman shows up at Global IV with their own chassis to pick up a grounded box, they can’t get the box loaded.”
In a service advisory issued today, steamship line HMM told customers to expect delays to containers that are on ships or already on docks at West Coast ports. “There will be some restrictions on new bookings from Asia to Chicago destinations in order to clean up any already in-transit cargoes,” the HMM advisory says.
“As the U.S. intermodal supply chain continues to be stressed with U.S. West Coast terminal congestion, we will continue to closely monitor the circumstances of other inland rail ramps, as well,” HMM says.
UP, in a service advisory two weeks ago, adjusted its container storage charges amid parking congestion at the terminal.
“The international intermodal supply chain continues to experience congestion related to high demand and constrained capacity, particularly drayage and warehouse operations in major markets,” UP said in a July 1 advisory. “Union Pacific has strived to maximize container shipments between ports and inland ramps, but available parking space at Chicago’s Global 4 ramp has been consumed due to slow outbound drayage processing.”
Wildfires Affect Western Canada and Rail Operations
British Columbia Wildfire impact on service
Dear Valued Customer,
We would like to update you on the situation in Western Canada in relation to the wildfires in the Lytton, BC area which has impacted the key access route towards the ports in Vancouver.
Transportation modes impacted: Both CN and CP Rail were granted access to the rail tracks to determine the necessary steps to resume safe rail operations. They are currently assessing the damage and estimating the time needed for repair.
CP Railways update:
- One line belonging to CP has been opened and CP is restarting the operations and trains following through the area at reduced speed.
- Westbound export in-gate embargo is in place requiring truckers to report to problem area to clear through Remote Operations Center (ROC). Embargo holds are being actively worked out by CP to ensure terminals accept containers in line with trains ramp-up.
CN railway update:
CN is currently working on directing traffic via alternative routes either by using the CP line on a co-production agreement or by collaboration with BNSF via different gateway. At this time an embargo has been issued on traffic going Westbound and Eastbound.
As mentioned on yesterday’s update, it is anticipated that regular flow in and out of port of Vancouver will be impacted for at least one week. We will see increased congestion at terminals and expect vessel delays.
We are working closely with different stakeholders to understand the impacts of the delays on terminal operations and to develop a contingency plan.
Impact to Maersk operations: Our offices are open and working – and not impacted since most of our staff are working from home. Our warehouses are open and working.
Your business is important to us and we pledge to keep you fully informed as more details become available.
Should you have any questions on the situation, please feel free to contact your local Maersk professional.
Your Maersk Team
Notice to Customers
Pacific North West (PNW) Services Update
Dear Valued Customers,
Further to previous advisory, we would like to update you on the operational situation related to the wild fires in Lytton, BC area. CN Rail is working with local authorities to inspect the area, assess the damages and time needed for repairs and resuming operations. In the meantime, CN has moved some traffic by utilizing CP lines’ networks with limited capacity and will continue to plan rail movements whenever possible.
In terms of terminal operations, currently there are two ZP8/ZP9 vessels in Vancouver and pending operations.
- ZP8: Santa Ines (JK6 V.8N) is tentatively scheduled to start operations in Centerm terminal on July 9 local time.
- ZP9: Maersk Lins (YE4 V.10N) at Deltaport terminal is pending operations as she is not only affected by the wild fires but also a Covid case. Her operations start time is to be updated.
Thank you for your attention and understanding on this matter. We will continue to keep you posted of any further developments.
ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd