Supply chain continues its ongoing battle with disruption and soaring demand

Drone view of huge industrial port with cargo containers. Commercial logistics industry of china Hong Kong

It seems not a week goes by without major disruption to the supply chain, since the start of 2021 the industry has seen its fair share of crisis as well as continuing to battle surging demand for goods especially in the US.

The big news for the month of June is the disruption being caused at one of China’s biggest ports, Yantian, because of a COVID-19 outbreak which has led to a severe shortage of workers.

Speaking to PTI, industry experts have warned of ripple effects across the supply chain as the situation continues to deteriorate and shipping lines omit calls at the port.

Once again, the crisis has emphasized how important visibility is across the supply chain and how digital tools appear to be the only solution to this.

The supply chain has only just come back from the blockage of the Suez Canal the impact of which one industry expert told PTI could have been mitigated if there was clearer communication between the Suez Canal Authority and ships.

Supply chain visibility is key for all of these events to have as little impact as possible and there is an urgent need for the industry to continue its development of information sharing and digitization.

US busy as ever

Meanwhile, in the US the chain is continuing to work at a record-breaking rate with traffic sky-high for container throughput in the month of April.

According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) the supply chain is struggling to keep up with demand as the biggest gateways in the US handled approximately 2.15 million TEU in April.

NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said supply chains are “working overtime” to meet demand.

“There’s no shortage of demand from consumers, but there continue to be shortages of labour, equipment and shipping capacity to meet that demand.

“Supply chain disruptions, port congestion and rising shipping costs could continue to be challenges through the end of the year.”

Sea to rail

Speaking to PTI Mario Cordero, Executive Director at the Port of Long Beach, said the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles in San Pedro Bay will move more than 18 million TEU over 2021.

“The good news is we’ve had a lot of volume because of the consumer demand that we’ve had,” he said. “The challenge for us is to make sure that we continue to be competitive and be able to move containers in a efficient and reliable and predictable manner.”

In his interview with PTI he pointed to rail being the answer with an announcement of $1 billion to be made in on-dock rail over the next decade.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Ports recorded a third consecutive month with record volumes in May 2021 and said its Inland Port Greer reported 11,280 rail moves in May, a 25.9% increase year-over-year.

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