Empty Containers Cause Mayhem in NY/NJ Ports

The surge in cargo that hit the LA and Long Beach ports for almost two years is now plaguing the Port of New York and New Jersey and heating up this summer as peak shipping season begins.

In the last few weeks, NY/NJ port terminals have not been able to take back empty containers, presenting issues that ultimately lead to customers getting slapped with surcharges.

While most shippers look for service providers to guarantee import containers won’t fall into per diem/demurrage, the current crisis state of NY/NJ ports make this nearly impossible when importing at scale, and here is why:

Scheduled Vessel Arrival Reliability

At the time of consignment, the forecasted parameters surrounding each project are likely to change. For example, if 20 containers are expected to be pulled in free time, that number could quickly turn to 40 or more as vessel arrivals overlap. Carriers/brokers are forced to make a difficult decision: serve customers on a FIFO basis or prioritize those moving higher volumes.

Marine Terminal Congestion

Port congestion exacerbates challenges navigating an already complicated environment; restricting the amount of turns that a driver can make in a day, even with privately-owned chassis.

Empty Container Backlog

This cycle spirals as truckers are plagued by ocean carriers blocking the return of empty containers…accruing additional yard storage, chassis fees and per diem.

The relationship between per diem and demurrage compounds when forced to pay for the time containers have spent out despite not being able to return them. Additionally, the chassis they sit on can no longer be used to get out a higher-than-anticipated volume of discharged containers on the detention clock.

How We Manage

Although higher than expected costs are inevitable and unavoidable, the Worldwide Logistics team is getting in front of the problem by listening to truckers for real-time conditions status, documenting all updates, passing on information to customers about what’s happening at marine terminals and setting reasonable expectations.

As a true logistics partner, we help customers navigate this environment proactively and distinguish expectations/wishful thinking from reality instead of telling you what you want to hear.

Please contact your Worldwide Logistics representative for more information.