Entire US Supply Chain Needs 24/7 Operations, Not Just Ports, Official Says

Long Beach
A ship heads toward the Port of Long Beach. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

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All parts of the U.S. supply chain — not just its ports — need to move to round-the-clock operations to alleviate snarl-ups and reduce overall costs, President Joe Biden’s supply chain czar said.

“If only you or only a terminal goes to 24/7, that’s interesting,” Stephen Lyons told Port of Long Beach Executive Mario Cordero in an interview Aug. 9. “But if everybody — including the warehousing community, all the other modes of transport — moved to 24/7, or something more than today, that makes logical sense that you could move much more cargo in the same period of time.”

During the height of the supply chain crisis last year, California’s twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced 24-hour longshore operations and extended gate hours for truckers.

But even as backlogs have eased somewhat, round-the-clock operations at terminals remain scarce, making U.S. maritime locations less efficient than many others worldwide.

Cordero has long been a proponent of adopting 24/7 operations, as most of the world’s biggest and most efficient ports have done. Expanded, consistent gate hours could result from the ongoing labor-contract discussions underway between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association that represents employers, he said in June.

Lyons said more fluidity is key to improving the movement of cargo.

“It’s all about restoring consumer confidence and bringing costs down,” Lyons said. “What we want to do is move in that direction.”

— With assistance from Augusta Saraiva.

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