Transportation

When Things Go Wrong at the Port, Is Your System Resilient?

What can the shipper/BCO do to reduce the impact of port congestion? For most companies, the best they can do is appeal to their customs broker and drayage operators to do more.

Ned Blinick

October 22, 2020

The ports of LA-Long Beach are seriously congested.  And, they are expecting higher volumes over the next several weeks/months.  Access to containers is constrained by the availability of appointments, scarcity of chassis, locating misplaced containers, customs, and regulatory holds.  

This scenario is playing out at ports across the United States and Canada with LA-Long Beach the most obvious example of Ports in crisis.  The problems are not new, however, until now the ability to streamline the ports’ activities has defied a solution.

What does that mean for shippers/BCOs?  

Best case scenario: Increased demurrage and detention charges. 

Worst case scenario: Lost sales, interrupted manufacturing schedules. 

What can the shipper/BCO do to reduce the impact of port congestion?  For most companies, the best they can do is appeal to their customs broker and drayage operators to do more.  But what does “doing more” mean?  It means increasing the volume and urgency of the interactions with the customs broker or drayage operator to see what they can do to find and move the container.  

Currently, BCOs have no way to work with their customs brokers or drayage providers to dynamically organize and manage the flow of containers at the ports/terminals to provide the optimal results for their organization. 

The port is a place where supply chains are disrupted and cost incurred, often without an adequate explanation.  The reality is, that for BCOs, the port is a serious point of disruption in the inbound supply chain with little or no meaningful visibility to the position and availability of containers.. 

8 Questions to ask yourself about port management.

  1. Do you have visibility of your containers at the ports/terminals?  
  2. Do you have to chase your customs broker or drayage operator to know the hold or release status of your containers at the port/terminal?  
  3. Can you or your internal stakeholders easily identify, prioritize, schedule and reschedule containers that have product/SKUs necessary to fulfill sales or manufacturing demand requirements?
  4. Can you calculate container demurrage charges and validate them against the terminal, customs broker, or carrier invoices?
  5. Can you track container detention charges and validate them against carrier invoices?
  6. Do you know what your chassis cost you?
  7. Do you have the ability to easily communicate inbound product position status to your internal stakeholders?
  8. Can you analyze your port activity and understand how you and your service providers are performing?

If the answer to these questions is NO, you need a Port Monitor.

What is a Port Monitor?

A Port Monitor provides BCOs with the essential visibility into the status of a container at a port or terminal, from the time it is unladed from the container ship, through its release process, and its return to the container yard.  

Complete visibility enables BCOs to easily prioritize “hot” containers and coordinate scheduling of containers based on the demand requirements of the organization.  The monitor provides context to the time and its impact on port-related costs such as demurrage, detention, and chassis charges.

The Value of a Port Monitor

The value of the port monitor is huge.  When things go wrong at the port you need a resilient solution that allows you to quickly adjust your container delivery schedules to meet the immediate inventory needs.

Visibility: The Port Monitor makes what is currently unseeable, visible.  

  • It allows you to see the status of your containers (and their contents) at the ports.
  • It allows you to see the number of days that the container is sitting in the ports.
  • It allows you to see the number of days that a container is on delivery.
  • It allows you to see containers by free days available or days on demurrage/detention
  • It provides you visibility into demurrage costs
  • It provides the ability to prioritize containers for pickup and delivery.   Or, when things go wrong reschedule the containers.
  • It supports flexible delivery - redirect, transload, direct delivery.

Cost Control: 

It provides the ability to see port and delivery related charges in real-time.  It improves decision support. 

Coordination, Collaboration, Communication

The port monitor presents a single view of port activity and provides the platform to share the information with internal stakeholders and external service providers.  Everyone, with suitable permission, has direct access to the information they need --- when they want it.

Simplifies Work Process 

Simply said, the Port Monitor provides you with all the information you need to do your work based on alerts and exceptions.  No more needless data entry and searching for information.  No more operating in the dark.

Take Away

3rdwave’s unique and revolutionary Port Monitor dramatically reduces the drudgery and stress related to monitoring and managing containers at the port, scheduling and the delivery and returns cycles.  

The 3rdwave Port Monitor gives you, your warehouse and extended service providers the visibility and availability status of the containers and products across your port network in a single view.  With exception management the Port Monitor is able to quickly identify containers that need attention alert team members.  

With the Port Monitor you gain time.  Time to do what you are passionate about - real transportation management.  

With the Port Monitor you gain a level of Last-Mile resiliency not otherwise possible.