Georgians have warranted and substantial concerns regarding our American supply chain, and can look no further than to our own Port of Savannah. Proudly, we stand as the the third largest on the East Coast and fourth busiest in the United States. However, in October, the wait times for offshore container ships have grown to 8-10 days and some shipping companies have decided to divert to other ports. Our private logistics sector is extremely robust, which have caused many to question the presence of masked forces impacting our supply chain contrary to our nation’s interest. It appears that they are correct.
The White House claims that our supply issues are complicated and may take years to resolve. Here is the President’s statement: “Strengthening our supply chains will continue to be my team’s focus. If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate action. And if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act. Because our goal is not only to get through this immediate bottleneck, but to address the longstanding weaknesses in our transportation supply chain that this pandemic has exposed.” Biden directs nearly all of his concern to blaming the private sector and COVID, but then promises some manner of federal bail out. No shock.
Bidens’ Chief of Staff, Ron Klain has projected that “most of the economic problems we’re facing are high class problems” which disregards the increased expenses to common Americans relying on medicines, parts, health care supplies, and household goods. It is not just the Christmas ‘toys’ that Jen Psaki added to her remarks, perhaps to downplay the situation. Convincing Americans that their everyday provisional concerns are a mirage of non-issues and denying the reality of inflation impacts does not sit well with voters across both sides of the political aisle.
Americans are actively questioning the origins of the factors that are driving our inability to keep pace. Issues related to government policy, workforce, economics, and transportation contribute to trade flow, but there are two specific bottlenecks that have businesses and consumers puzzled. One issue is the insufficient pace of cargo debarkation operations to avoid vessel offshore wait times. The second concern is the pace of trucking from the port to deliver containers to warehouses and final destinations.
As we conducted research, we found excellent insight from logistics consultants, longshoremen, and warehouse owners from around the Port of Savannah. Additionally, we gained an immense amount of respect for the foundational leadership of Griff Lynch, Executive Director at the Georgia Ports Authority, who has an eye on our phenomenal supply chain. However, let’s not forget that the initial uptick in offshore container ship debarkation wait periods began on the west coast in early September.
First, let’s examine Georgia’s offshore wait times. Port of Savannah is definitely seeing an influx in import volume and clearly struggling to overcome the need to ask vessels to endure long wait times. As of this week, two major global leaders in container shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM, have diverted their port of call up to Charleston because their normal Savannah port is the site of some of the worst congestion on the East Coast. They simply cannot afford the offshore cost. The commodities owners would rather trade the direct transportation line to Atlanta for a swift landing of their goods on American soil.
To understand the incredibly complex and rapid operations at Georgia port docks, one must look no further than to the Longshoremen professionals, who are employed in loading and discharging the cargoes of vessels. They state the initial observation that import volume, especially from China, picked up immensely earlier this year. And, at this time, America is sending about 90% of them back empty, compared with only 60% empties earlier this year. This is a major area of concern, but is beyond the scope of this article.
The Longshoremen specialize in playing an intense puzzle game with the containers during their arduous shifts. In Savannah, they are employed by Gateway, Ceres, SSA Cooper, and Ports America. They move and build the stacks, always keeping in mind the next step in the logistics chain, which is typically road transportation by our dedicated American truckers. In recent weeks, the dock has been consistently full at all eight berthings designed to handle the largest container ships. With this traffic volume, and with finite land area for utilization, placing containers is extremely complex. And, with complexity comes a grind in the speed of cargo disembarkation operations. The landing pace for container placement typically runs close to 35 per hour. Lately, however, it has been around 20 per hour. This congestion is a logistics nightmare and up to 80,000 containers have been occupying port property at one time lately. However, it appears that, as usual, our Georgia workers are outperforming expectations.
The second concern is with trucking. It is common knowledge that the cost of shipping has risen dramatically. A transportation service from Savannah to Atlanta that cost around $850 earlier this year now charges commodity owners as much as $7,000. This change has caused many smaller companies to completely restructure their delivery operations, but the big box chains and those dependent on international supply, are competing for services amidst inflation.
On Monday through Saturday, from 6am to 6pm, trucks move through the Garden City Interchange as efficiently and safely as possible to move out containers from port property. However, after much digging outside of the GA Ports office and contact through Longshoremen connections, we learned that the port is offering extended hours for some of the commodities owners with the largest volume, which include Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart. The goal, at this time, is to move out around 60 containers to ample local warehouses, even as far as Statesboro, and return the empties to the port during these hours. Why this was concealed by several layers of Georgia Port Authority, we are unsure.
If trucking is the bottleneck in the supply chain, we considered how this could be occurring. Local experts conjectured that the truckers were perhaps cherry-picking the expensive loads, making their income early in the week, and then cutting out early on Friday. Perhaps, there was also a shortage of truckers and they could not possibly manage the volume. Some thought that maybe federal funding and unemployment payments were keeping truckers at home. However, an important statistic was confirmed that destroyed these theories. The Port of Savannah is processing, on average, 14,000 trucks through the interchange each day. This is record-breaking, and our truckers must be applauded for rising to meet the higher demands. They make American move!
We continued to ask questions and seek input from the best around Savannah’s port, being open to all possibilities regarding the sources of congestion. Then, on October 14 the independent journalists with The Conservative Treehouse, published a clarifying investigative piece regarding the original west coast port logistics lag. Thanks to their research, we can now acknowledge the most obvious source of the American logistics lag as leftist policy gone awry. It is directly connected to the The California Version of The Green New Deal and an October 16, 2020, EPA settlement with three major transportation companies amounting to $417,000. This hammered down the unreasonable new standards and left companies with no choice but to prepare, to the best of their strategic ability, for the impending supply chain catastrophe in which we find ourselves.
Large companies foresaw the trauma to the supply chain and visited the White House long before COVID. The article states, “The trucking issue with California LA ports, i.e. the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB), is that all semi tractors have to be current with new California emissions standards. As a consequence, trucks cannot be older than 3 years if they are to pick up or deliver containers at those ports. This issue wipes out approximately half of the fleet trucks used to move containers in/out of the port. Operating the port 24/7 will not cure the issue, because all it does is pile up more containers that sit idle as they await a limited number of trucks to pick them up. THIS is the central issue.”
Companies began switching trucks at the border, to keep goods moving, but there are simply not enough compliant rigs to keep up with the import volume, and the expense of doing so is exorbitant. Several thousands of dollars per rig is what the government downplays as the cost of compliance, but the accuracy of this may not be consistent with industry reality.
The article continues, “Yesterday [October 13, 2021], in an effort to obfuscate and actually hide the epicenter of the issue, the White House put on a performance to provide political cover. In a grand pantomime, Joe Biden met with the heads of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (Gene Seroka and Mario Cordero, respectively), and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The publicized meeting and White House conference was sold as Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg [on paternity leave since mid-August] showing actions they are taking to address delays and congestion across the transportation supply chain in Southern California.” As a result, the L.A. ports expanded their hours, but a farce cannot solve the traumatic effects of the EPA crackdown.
Once again, the illogical, leftist political elites have hijacked our country. This time, it is impacting every single family and business by some means of cost increase and delays in supply. Corporate expectation of these changes has directly impacted the rising cost of transportation that is plaguing our nation’s companies. Companies are having to change their systems to included alternative waterways and altered vessels to accomplish the job.
Could it also be that the exorbitant price tag of the environmental energy programs is so high that our communist progressive occupiers are hoping to tap into a detained, non-vaccinated workforce to maintain renewable energy farms under a government labor hammer? Is this another step in the full government takeover of private industry and the entire logistics supply chain? Are these the plans?