- The Port of Los Angeles will begin distributing data from the Port Optimizer in a new product called The Signal. The product will contain information on shipments heading into the port over the next three weeks, the gateway announced Thursday.
- "We're giving all of our partners — railroads, chassis providers, truckers, warehouse operators and others in the supply chain — a three-week look at cargo coming into Los Angeles," Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said in a statement. "This planning tool will help make our partners more nimble and efficient, especially during volume surges like we are currently experiencing."
- The dashboard breaks down forecasted volume by week, showing what volume is expected to move via rail and the size of the containers making landfall. This can help the port's supply chain partners properly plan labor and other resources in advance of the container's arrival.
Seroka announced the dashboard at the Los Angeles Harbor Commission meeting last week, saying it provides a level of visibility supply chain partners had requested from the port.
The tool will be rolled out to partners in a soft launch this week through video meetings "to make sure we have all the data that's necessary," Seroka told commissioners.
The goal is to have more parts of the supply chain using data from the port, and to make it more accessible by releasing aggregate-level details. The port said no proprietary information would be shared through the dashboard.
The Port of Los Angeles has experienced dramatic volume swings throughout the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the port moved 449,568 TEUs, a 31% year-over-year drop. But an early estimate shared during the commission meeting puts August volume at more than 900,000 TEUs, which would show growth compared to the same month last year.
Many links in the supply chain — including trucking and railroads — laid off or furloughed employees this year when they had less volume to move. Union Pacific said on its July earnings call that it had already begun calling some employees back and was having success.
Truckers, chassis providers and railroads can struggle to keep up when demand swings this much. In July, APM Terminals warned truckers of low chassis inventory and recommended they arrive to the terminal with a chassis.
"Right now, our members are so busy because of the volume surges," said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association. "Almost every day, I have a member reach out and ask if I know of anybody that has extra capacity."
Capacity issues ripple beyond the port area to the warehouses. Equipment and freight get "bogged down" at distribution centers, LaBar said, because facilities are not fully staffed due to COVID-19-related issues and social-distancing requirements.
The Port of Los Angeles intends for its three-week look at volume through The Signal to provide some stability and help with planning during uncertain times.
The HTA has advocated for using data to aid in planning, forecasting and visibility. "It's incumbent for all of us, since everybody's so busy, to be able to work together to help get that cargo where it needs to go," LaBar said.
Shefali Kapadia contributed to this report.