Ports are overwhelmed across the nation and entire international sphere. This is not an entirely new problem, but it has been exacerbated as time progressed. There are many factors that have contributed to the current supply chain crisis and these have built up over the past 40 years. In the media, there is an ample amount of news about broken infrastructure, inefficient shipping situations, and various crises around the world involving transportation like the Suez Canal incident earlier this year. The entire canal was blocked by a grounded container ship having long lasting consequences on the transportation network.
Transportation faces challenges in all sectors, ground, sea, and sky.The most notable challenge facing transportation right now is highly congested ports. There are an incredible number of ports across the globe, but only a handful are high volume ports.These are backing up more and more. This has led to many shipping companies calling smaller ports for assistance and, while they are glad to see the business, they are also unable to accommodate most shipments as there is a chronic shortage of chassis facing the port shipping industry. Chassis are load-bearing trailer frames designed to attach to a truck and carry shipping containers.
Many ports do not own their own chassis and rely on the receiving agency to supply their own, which poses an issue since the port cannot accept containers with no way to be transported once they are on land. Even ports that have huge yards filled with chassis are unable to use them most of the time because large companies tend to hold onto them even when not in use. In addition to this, there is a shortage of drivers available to transport the shipping containers even if there are enough chassis present.
Supply Chain Difficulty
The greatest difficulty facing ports is not one related to the ships carrying goods across the ocean, but rather the reception of the goods on land. The larger ports are experiencing a piling up of shipping containers and many have plans for expansion, but expanding can only do so much for the ports in question as space is limited. The problem can only be solved by an increase in ground transport from the ports. This ground transport can be in the form of trains and trucks. Trains are seeing a rise in popularity, but an increase of chassis and drivers willing to take on transport jobs from the ports are likely the only ways for ports to see a decrease in congestion.
A lack of drivers is something facing not just ports, but the entire domestic transport system. Presently the driver shortage is due to many factors including, but not limited to, drivers retiring, COVID-19, low pay, and difficult working conditions. Some of these factors can be remediated by boosting the popularity of driving and showing future drivers that it can be a great career option. In addition to this, increasing driver pay and ensuring that working conditions are fair and safe will ensure that more drivers are willing and able to participate in transporting goods across America.
What About the Future?
The supply chain crisis poses a real and present danger to the infrastructure of many global economies and businesses as they rely on timely and efficient deliveries. There are steps that can and should be taken in order to fix this issue. Expanding ports, increasing driver employment, and sharing chassis more effectively could help to slowly heal the infrastructure. In effect, the transportation process would be expedited and the movement of goods would continue to flow unhindered.