Port Congestion, Equipment Supply Alerts

Since late summer the inbound container activity in southern California and the Northeast are showing the complete volume reversal that was the reality of the first half.  Volumes have again surged, above even last year, which shows the impact of the restocking, consumer spending on goods over services, and moving shipments forward ahead of any possible tariff changes on currently excluded products from China.

Current year inbound loaded container volumes versus prior year:

Los Angeles / Long BeachJanuary – June-11%
New York / New JerseyJanuary – June-7%
Sources: Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port of New York, New Jersey.  More background in articles on Journal of Commerce.

Chassis equipment supply – With the increased demand we are seeing more challenges in different areas of the supply chain.  In addition to overall terminal congestion, this strains the chassis equipment supply.  Providers that do not supply chassis units cannot secure them after they have their terminal container pickup, which leads to additional charges when free time limits are exceeded. 

Reefer Equipment from North Europe – trade balances of supply and demand for reefer equipment is another region-specific issues.  Not all countries have the same inbound demand for reefer units, as is the case with France in particular.  The issue has become critical there as shipping lines benefit from seasonal demand on loaded reefer moves (France/N.Europe to Asia, Asia – to Latin America, etc) over empty reefer positioning.  For the current situation we are advising members to consider the following options:   


With a much longer lead time for reefer equipment bookings, especially to the West Coast Hillebrand is urging customers to:

  • Consider shipping dry with Hillebrand insulation for the seafreight leg.  For inland destinations to door, cross-docking options into heated trucks is a viable option through our Winter Wine Program.
  • Move the most temperature-sensitive product via Hillebrand groupage service (temperature controlled).  Schedules online at www.hillebrand.com/tools/schedules
  • If you cannot adjust lead times to three weeks out, clearly indicate which orders are rush so we can prioritize those bookings.

Spain – Bilbao Port Strike Disruptions – Strike actions at the port of Bilbao (October 9th – 25th) continue to disrupt port operations, container movements, and vessel loading and unloading.  The severe slowdown is now causing carriers to cancel port calls at Bilbao and divert to the port of Gijon.  For assistance with options for pending shipments please contact your Hillebrand representative. 

Oceania to USA – continued fallout from labor action at Sydney port terminals has impacted the container flows for Australia and New Zealand shipments.  Ocean carriers applied congestion charges this month for export cargo as well.  The largest impact has been for flexigrade container equipment in this area.

Should you have any questions or need more information please contact your Hillebrand representative.  You can also manage pending shipments, pickups, invoices, set up alerts and more on myHillebrand.