Focus on US West Coast ports won’t solve supply chain crisis

Backlogs go beyond throughput capacity

US President Biden has been accused of being short-sighted in his attempt to solve the supply chain crisis by focusing on increasing traffic through West Coast ports.

Dale Rogers, a professor at Arizona State University, says extending port hours in these locations won’t be enough to solve the ongoing crisis as the issues are wider than the ports themselves. A backlog of demand, a restricted workforce and problems along the shipping routes, not just in ports, mean this measure alone is unlikely to be enough, say experts.

Problems have been exacerbated by a strong US post-pandemic economic recovery with US imports running at record levels so far in 2021, according to a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The problems are expected to continue into 2022.

According to Zax Rogers, Colorado State University professor, the situation could be eased by larger containers shops, more suburban warehouses and more semi-trucks on the road.

Tracking the supply chain through the Logistics Managers Index, a monthly report quantifying transportation, warehouse space and inventory across the US, Rogers said that there were record cost increases across his three monitored indices in September.  He sees no quick solution to the problems.

Six companies, including FedEx Corp and United Parcel Service Inc., have stated they will be expanding their delivery schedules.

While efforts are being made to break the backlog by increasing capacity at the country’s two busiest ports, outside Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Washington Examiner reports that crane operators there are deliberately working slowly.

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