LA Port Breaks Another Monthly Freight Record, Works to Streamline Supply Chain – Daily Breeze
The Port of Los Angeles had its best July ever, officials announced Wednesday, Aug. 17, surpassing the previous record by 5% in the same month last year.
Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 935,345 twenty-foot equivalent units, the industry standard measurement, in July, good enough for another record-breaking month — a regular occurrence since the second half of 2022. POLA established new records in five of the seven months this year so far.
And, according to POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka, the nation’s busiest port is on track to hit its all-time freight record, set in 2021, even amid ongoing issues with consumer spending and supply chain safeguards. Despite these challengers, Seroka said during a Wednesday briefing, the port is freeing up space in the port and moving quickly toward streamlining Southern California’s supply chain.
While that data may change slightly once the numbers are finalized, port officials said they don’t expect any major differences from what they reported at the press conference, which took place. place about a week after the nearby Port of Long Beach announced that it had barely set its own July cargo record.
“Remarkably, we continue to move record amounts of cargo while reducing the backlog of ships by almost 90%,” Seroka said, “a huge achievement from all of our partners.”
POLA imported just over 485,000 loaded units last month, an increase of 3.4% on July 2021 – and 8% more than the previous five-year average for July.
Exports from the port also performed well in July, Seroka said, with a 13.5% increase in units moved from the same month last year.
“Although this is a significant number, exports have been declining for more than three years,” Seroka said. “We continue to work with the Commerce Department and others to finally turn this market around.”
There are a few key factors driving the port’s success this year, Seroka said: demand, fluidity and data.
“Retail, wholesale and manufacturing numbers have remained strong – we’ve had peak season months for the past 2 1/2 years,” Seroka said. “That said, imports will start to decline somewhat; I expect this to be reflected in our August freight figures.
Orders from Chinese factories would slow, and some U.S. retailers noted they continued to have “high” inventories, Seroka said. But even still, July retail sales reported Wednesday morning are flat, which Seroka says is good news.
“It appears consumers are using the money saved from lower gas prices to spend money on other goods,” he said.
And cargo is leaving the port’s marine terminals at a much faster location than last year.
A record 109 ships were waiting to enter the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in January. That number on Monday had fallen to 13 ships at anchor in the port – an 88% decrease from just seven months ago.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Seroka said, “while moving record volume (of cargo).”
Trucks — which carry about two-thirds of all cargo at the port, Seroka said — are also moving units at a faster rate. And containers spend less time lingering or waiting for an available truck to transport them to their final destination.
“We’re down to around 2,000 containers waiting over 9 days for trucks, down from over 32,000 units last October,” Seroka said. “Dwell time for truck-bound containers is now four days, close to more traditional times and a significant improvement from the 11-day maximum dwell time.”
(Rail freight, however, has been a problem recently.)
This success, Seroka said, is due in part to the Port Optimizer data portal, a software system that allows port stakeholders to process supply chain data and identify potential loading delays before they only become major problems.
The Port Optimizer, that crucial piece of supply chain management, is ready for some upgrades – thanks to a $3 million grant from the Federal Department of Transportation.
This money “will be used to deploy new components of the Port Optimizer,” Seroka said, “further improving the data and analytics that stakeholders increasingly depend on every day.”
Over the past few months, Southern California’s supply chain has improved dramatically, Seroka said.
“In many other ports across the country, ships are waiting for space. Yet here our terminals have capacity,” he said. “So for freight owners looking to get back on their feet, come to Los Angeles. We’re ready to help.
POLA will also receive another $20 million grant from the Department of Transportation for a grade separation project to improve truck access to Terminal Island from the port.
“It will also reduce freight congestion,” Seroka said, “while increasing motorist safety.”
But the port’s grant funds won’t stop there – or so officials hope.
President Joe Biden signed into law the Cut Inflation Act on Tuesday, which includes a $3 billion fund to help ports across the country switch to electric equipment and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
“As the most active trade gateway in the Western Hemisphere, we pursue every available grant dollar to accelerate plans to build resilience, increase efficiency and reduce our environmental footprint,” said Seroka, “while creating more jobs here in the US port.”