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There’s no end in sight for the chaotic shipping crisis the U.S. has been experiencing. Port conditions have never been so turbulent, and with each passing day, the backlog of containers only gets bigger and more difficult to solve. One industry insider is warning that it’s all downhill from here and American consumers should start saying goodbye to fast free shipping. From now on, companies are going to start charging some painful premium shipping rates for on-time deliveries, and even so, nothing is guaranteed. Our ports’ operational system is terminally broken, and they’re lacking in infrastructure, equipment, and staff. But no one is willing to pay the price to make this crisis go away. Especially not when shipping companies are cashing in huge amounts of money to offer a terrible service, and they can charge even more if customers chose a premium to get their products out as fast as possible.
All of the experts defending 24/7 port operations are contributing to the creation of an even larger backlog because there are simply not enough truck drivers in the market to move those containers from ports to warehouses. That’s what Ryan Johnson, a 20-year veteran in the trucking industry, revealed in a recent article published by Medium. The best way to understand how deep a crisis goes is to learn from the source what is really going on so that we know what the media, the so-called experts, and the government are refusing to tell us. That’s why Johnson’s exposé is so relevant and so urgent at a time our supply chains are severely collapsing and our leaders don’t seem to bother fixing it.
The trucking industry veteran pointed that one of the main reasons why most trucking companies don’t want anything to do with transporting shipping containers is the fact port operations have always been extremely messy, and things have gotten a whole lot worse since the beginning of the health crisis. Ports don’t have enough workers to keep operations fluid, no matter whether you’re in a coastal or inland, union or non-union port, the situation is the same all over the nation. That’s why when ports started to get congested due to the impacts of the health crisis last spring, the vast majority of drivers refused to show up.
A huge part of the problem is that there are extensive equipment shortages that is compromising the flow of containers. Johnson explains that “one of these critical shortages is the container chassis. A container chassis is the trailer the container sits on. Cranes will load these in port. They are essential for container trucking. There aren’t enough of those to begin to address the backlog of containers today, and now drivers are sitting around for hours, sometimes days, waiting for chassis.”
When a container arrives in a warehouse, many of them have to be manually unloaded because the goods are not sitting on pallets. So it takes a sizable working crew and a considerable amount of time to do this, particularly now that warehouses are extremely short-staffed. Those who want to get their deliveries on time are going to have to pay expensive premium rates. They will be on the top of the priority list while those who paid lower or no premium rates will face prolonged waiting times to get their products. The backlog of containers doesn’t hurt the owners of the transportation business and shipping companies, but those who are paying higher shipping costs: manufacturers selling products and consumers buying products. The laws of supply and demand essentially mean that they are going to collect record-high profits for poor service and they won’t have to change a thing in the system.
For the entire supply chain to operate smoothly every point of it has to be working at an equal capacity. If any disruption erupts along the way, the whole system gets clogged. “Right now, it’s ALL failing spectacularly TOGETHER, but fixing one piece won’t do anything. It ALL needs to be fixed, and at the same time,” he emphasizes. “My prediction is that nothing is going to change and the shipping crisis is only going to get worse. Nobody in the supply chain wants to pay to solve the problem”. Sadly, this is the new normal. American consumers are soon going to be shocked by the painful rates they will have to pay. All this mess is being brought to us by those who are running our supply chains and by flawed government measures that only aggravate the problem. This crisis is far from over, and the worst is yet to come.