The White House announced this afternoon that both the U.S. West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will move to round the clock, 7×24 operations in order to relieve current supply chain material movements.

President Joseph Biden made the announcement at a White House briefing with reporters. The Port of Long Beach had already initiated round the clock efforts and with today’s announcement, the Port of Los Angeles will now join in that effort. In his remarks, the president indicated that this would be a key first step in moving nationwide supply chain efforts to a 24×7 effort in order to clear ongoing backlogs and bottlenecks.

This announcement came after Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Security Director Brian Deese met with the leaders of both ports, as well as representatives of labor and the business community, to discuss solutions to the congestion at the two ports.

Among businesses attending today’s meeting were senior executives of FedEx Logistics, Home Depot, Samsung Electronics North America Target, UPS and Walmart. Among industry associations were executives representing Agriculture Transportation Coalition, American Trucking Association, Association of American Railroads, Consumer Brands association, Pacific Maritime Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

According to the White House readout statement, labor leaders made clear their support for this effort, and business leaders announced new commitments to move their cargo during the newly available nighttime and weekend hours. Participants discussed how the movement of cargo during less congested times will allow trucks to move more quickly on highways during less crowded night-time hours, and truckers at the ports can drop off and pick up loads more quickly.

Participants further discussed the record setting cargo moving through the nation’s ports this past year, where workers at the ports risked their lives to make sure essential goods like food and medicine were available. They noted that the system is almost entirely in the hands of private businesses, who operate and control the ships, the docks, the trucks, the warehouses, and the rails that move goods from ships to stores to houses.

Participants have reportedly agreed to continue to work together, with the support of port officials on 24/7 operations at the two ports and across the entire supply chain. Further discussed were additional solutions to alleviate congestion and improve efficiency. This included a temporary expansion of warehousing and rail service, improving data tools and data sharing at the ports, and increasing both recruitment of truck drivers while improving the quality of trucking jobs.

All in all, this was significant development regarding U.S. supply chain material flows and comes at a critical time to help position inventory for this quarter’s surge holiday fulfillment period.

With  the reality that the ongoing global supply chain disruptions are going to get worse before they get better, the question is how much additional progress can be made over the coming six to eight weeks given today’s announcement.

 

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