U.S. container ports: Record volumes meet driver shortages

With its own trucker pool, a. hartrodt has on-carriage largely under control.

70 percent of U.S. foreign trade passes through seaports – but the gateways into the world's largest economy have become bottlenecks. Container on-carriage by truck is particularly complicated. "We're talking about cargo delivered to the customer less than 300 miles/480 kilometers from the port," explains Mike Schaefer, President/CEO at a. hartrodt (U.S.A.) in Lynbrook, New York. The problem: At the quayside, record volumes meet driver shortages. According to Schaefer, the largest U.S. ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach on the West Coast as well as Savannah, Charleston and Norfolk on the East Coast particularly groan under the strain.

Los Angeles and Long Beach plan measures

The two San Pedro Bay Ports in California alone handle about 40 percent of all import containers. In mid-September, the port directors announced measures to reduce delays in truck on-carriage: Whereas Long Beach aims to maximize nighttime operations, Los Angeles promises expanded opening hours on weekends. Schaefer advises customers: "It's important to communicate with us as soon as possible."

Containers leave the terminal on time

For years, a. hartrodt has been working trustfully with a trucker pool in the USA. "As soon as the customer sends us the confirmed sailing date, we try to book a truck driver," says Schaefer. That's "more feasible" from Asia than from Europe because of the longer transit time, he says. The driver sets himself up for a time window of three to four days for pickup at the port. "Thanks to long-standing business relationships, we have the truck transports under control," Schaefer emphasizes. Almost always, a. hartrodt manages to get all containers out of the terminal on time: "Mostly, there are no storage fees for the customer at the port."

The 36 employees at a. hartrodt USA strive to find solutions. Customers benefit from the integrated transport management system CargoWise One, which a. hartrodt uses for customs clearance prior to the arrival of the vessel. Schaefer assumes that the situation in the ports will continue to worsen.