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Port of NY/NJ strives to keep cargo flowing

Extra measures put in place to handle surging freight volumes

The Port of New York and New Jersey is taking steps to ensure cargo continues to flow efficiently. (Photo: PANYNJ)

Port of New York and New Jersey officials announced Monday they are “taking extra measures to keep the supply chain fluid.”

The port set a monthly container record in August with 688,365 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It then broke that record in September by handling 720,969 TEUs, a 15.4% year-over-year increase.

Last week, the port attributed September’s volume record to U.S. retailers stocking up for the holiday season as well as “growing concerns of future supply chain disruptions.” The port did not identify the source of those possible disruptions, but the United States is again setting daily records for new COVID-19 cases.

Monday’s announcement did attribute surging freight volumes “to several effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including retailers replenishing depleted stocks, a transition to the ‘stay-at-home’ economy and inventory management strategies that incorporate more ‘just-in-case’ stock levels.” 

“A busy, robust port offers a glimmer of hope during these difficult times, leading to increased economic activity and the creation of more jobs. As we look forward, and with an eye on maintaining the integrity of the supply chain, our port partners and stakeholders continue to work diligently to manage the strong volume levels, taking extra measures to keep the supply chain fluid,” the port announcement said. 

According to the port, these efforts include keeping marine terminals open on holidays; adding extra hours of operation on nights and weekends; infusing extra chassis into the network; working overtime to keep chassis units roadworthy; and adding empty railcars as well as trains into the intermodal network.

“The maritime cargo supply chain’s resilience has been encouraging as we collectively navigate through the pandemic, and it is at times like this that the interconnectedness of the various supply chain handoffs is evident,” it said. “Our partners are united in managing these extraordinary volumes and handling tight capacity throughout the supply chain to keep commerce moving.” 

The port said its partners include the terminals, depots, truckers and warehouses, and that it was asking them to:

• Extend and coordinate operating hours to match additional work times where applicable.

• Proactively update the availability of extra warehouse capacity or space to ground containers. 

• Make special efforts to ground containers to free up chassis to support the inbound flow. 

• Move containers to off-terminal locations as quickly as possible.

The port also issued a reminder to follow COVID-19 protocols that have “effectively slowed the spread of the virus at port facilities and among our waterfront labor workforce. However, with cases climbing in our region, we must remain vigilant and ensure strict adherence to all safety measures to keep the port, transportation, distribution and logistics workers safe and healthy,” it said.  

“By continuing to work together, we will get through this pandemic.”

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.