There is no term for a group of containers; we have a murder of crows, a flotilla of ships, a fluffle of rabbits, a mess of grits, and a flamboyance of flamingos but nothing to describe an overwhelming number of cargo containers piling up on the West Coast. Let’s call it a dumpster fire. There is a dumpster fire of containers growing larger by the day as record imports flood into the U.S. from Asia in response to dramatic restocking, holiday inventory, and medical supplies. Reefer, hi-cube, flat rack, oil drum, rail car, etc., there is no facet of the container shipping market that hasn’t been disrupted by the dumpster fire of containers.
While we do write the above as a tongue-in-cheek comment to add levity to a difficult problem, make no mistake that there are problems due to such massive import numbers. The West Coast is far from the only ports that are being deluged into the country. New York, Norfolk, Miami, anywhere you can dock a ship you can count on delays and bottlenecks. One would think that this situation would be balanced by mounting scores of empty boxes waiting to return to Asia, loaded heavy with cargo from our shores, but no. The single biggest commodity isn’t space or value in the container market but time – turning and reloading takes longer than turning and returning to Asia empty because that container can be immediately loaded instead of needing to be emptied first and that time is precious.
We didn’t use the term dumpster fire as a joke. Many shippers are looking at containers being imported without being able to use them for export because those containers are too critical to be delayed by doing what they are supposed to do. Cutting out steps expedites the usage but kneecaps the companies trying to send cargo out of the U.S. This is the crunch time. This is one of those situations the logistics industry trains for. These issues, deeply systemic and seemingly endless, are going to prove insurmountable for many and devastating for even more.
This is what CFI does best. Our years of building connections, partnerships, quality relationships with carriers and equipment manufacturers leaves us uniquely positioned to weather this storm. Will it be fun? Of course not. Will there be times it’s dark? Absolutely. But the CFI team is made of industry experts, passionate, knowledgeable, tested and ready to jump in and provide solutions to your perishable shipment worries.
Unprecedented times cause doubts and worry, but when you’re moving with CFI, you have the whole Kuehne + Nagel family working in your corner. CFI has your back. Let us show you what being the best is all about!