Can Maritime Logistics Keep Up with the Demand?

Posted : 12/17/12 8:08 AM

In the past two decades there have been enormous changes in both the volume of world trade and the direction of its flow. Newly expanding economies in Asia, especially goods from China, have led to significant increases in the amount of cargo that is coming into the US, up as much as 280% in Californian ports. This has put pressure on port services across the board and caused many to question how ports can improve their performance to keep up with the pace that is being set by the huge growth in containerized imports. Part of the problem has been a lack of infrastructure, which has contributed to a serious congestion of the supply chain for these newly imported goods. Every delay in the flow of freight adds to its overall handling costs. As the congestion in our ports increases the pressure that is exerted on the existing infrastructure also increases all of the way down the supply line. There are even growing shortages of trucks to remove containers from the storage facilities in our ports. Further exacerbating the problem is that in systems which are already operating at capacity, there is inadequate redundancy and few alternatives in the event of breakdowns, all of which add to the bottleneck in our harbors. Apart from the problems of infrastructure there is also a growing personnel shortage. As logistics have become a more technically oriented industry it has created a demand for additional highly trained professionals. The supply of suitably educated people is yet to meet the demand. While favorable conditions such as high salaries are attracting new professionals in the industry, the process will take time and in the meantime the maritime infrastructure continues to come under increasing pressure. While there is a lot of effort going into finding solutions, industry professionals are clear that there is no silver bullet to fix the problem. There have been many significant changes to how the ports themselves are being utilized with the addition of off peak shifts to facilitate better traffic flow at the docks themselves. New terminals with modern equipment are being built across the country and there have been moves to find more direct routes for a lot of cargo. At the same time cargo carriers continue to get bigger which increases the potential for the pressure on our ports to continue well into the future. For more information on maritime freight and containerized shipping contact