Recently, to de-clog ports around the country and get shipping containers emptied and their content distributed, major ports began implementing fees for containers that linger past approved dwell times. The subsequent results of better port container management have been better than anticipated as the number of containers sitting at docks to be collected has dropped by over 60% in that time. However, the flip side to this positive is a largely unexpected downside, as highlighted by Bloomberg: “There are more than 115,000 empty containers in the Los Angeles port waiting to return to their point of origin, and that’s on top of another over 10,000 containers … across the Southwest United States.” The multi-faceted mechanics behind adaptable port container management requires a reworking of standard strategies to find something that really works for the modern supply chain and current market volatility.
1. Consider Alternate Ports for Imports
Several other ports can be just as versatile and accommodating, allowing shippers and carriers alike to avoid congestion at some of these major ports. Some of the most common alternatives include shifting freight to the Port of Savannah over more congested ports. There is also the option of improving port container management by utilizing smaller, lesser-known ports and distribution hubs around the country.
2. Plan Drayage Well Before Ships Arrive
Another way to improve container movement through congested ports is to prepare ahead of time for everything involved with drayage and container unloading and distribution. Adequate planning can help avoid more minor delays that can quickly escalatewith multiple containers and hundreds or even thousands of items being unloaded and distributed. Managing containers at ports is largely predictive planning for container handling.
3. Know the Details of All Imports and Potential Backlogged Impact to Your Container Pick-Ups
Maintaining access to up-to-date data and utilizing real-time tracking and monitoring systems makes it easier for management to see where containers are and what ships and loads are at risk for delays. When it is known ahead of time what disruptions to expect, plans and routes can be tweaked and adjusted to try and avoid extensive delays and reduce the impact it has on the supply chain network overall.
4. Enable More Dual Transactions Throughout the Network
Port container management often suffers from inefficiencies within the most routine and mundane processes. Simply allowing for dual transactions and multiple reports, invoices, and updates to be sent out at once can significantly improve port management processes for shippers and carriers alike. Dual transactions can be a game-changer in markets where minutes count, and even minor delays can lead to massive fees and surcharges.
5. Use Short-Term, Nearby Warehousing to Improve Container Turn Times
To minimize and manage the effects of port congestion, start by looking at alternatives for warehouse storage and distribution center hubs. Paying a fee to use nearby warehouses and hubs temporarily often ends up being less than demurrage fees and additional surcharges that come with containers lingering in shipping yards. These secondary hubs get containers unloaded and contents sorted to avoid port backlogs and bottlenecks.
6. Stay Apprised of Changing Port Fees and Surcharges
Many shippers and carriers get burned with accumulating fees and surcharges. Properly managing budgets and monitoring market trends can help management save money in the short term and long term through improved port container management processes. Tapping into real-time data and comparing historical metrics and help managers better prepare for shifts in market rates, fees, expenses, and payments.
7. Integrate Your Tech Stack to Stay Informed and Improve Time Slot Management
The final step logistics managers can take to improve port shipment management is to update the tech stack and tools to embrace the new digital tools, software, and available platforms. Port management and container tracking are more manageable with the right tools and processes. Tech stacks that include everything from digital collaborative platforms to on-demand updates and KPI tracking make things easier for everyone involved.
Enhance Port Container Management by Partnering With an Expert in Import Transport
Supply chain logistics and operations’ in-depth and often complex mechanics require access to scalable and adaptable port container management processes. This approach requires a change from traditional and often outdated or ineffective procedures and methods to embrace innovative container management options. Finding something that really works for the modern supply chain and current market volatility can be challenging, but it is easier with the right partnership. Contact Port City Logistics today to learn more.