Earlier this week, there were more than 70 ships containing 500,000 containers waiting off the LA and Long Beach shores. A new record
Yesterday morning, Ryan Petersen, CEO/Founder of Flexport (a freight logistics startup), posted a Twitter thread about the start of the LA/Long Beach ports.
He had rented a boat and toured the ports and identified an interesting bottleneck – companies couldn't unload containers because they weren't allowed to store empty containers more than 2 high in the truck yard.
Instead, container chassis are used to store empty containers. But that means there's no chassis available to pick up containers at the port. Containers have to be returned to the same carrier and terminal, so they can't be shifted around. Thus, a standstill.
So Ryan suggest a simple fix:
And the Mayor of Long Beach responded 8 hours later:
It seems to be making a significant impact on the supply chain backup, at least in Long Beach and LA. I'm sure the situation is more nuanced than it seems, but I love this story as an example of simple problem-solving techniques:
1) There's nothing that brings more clarity than getting on the ground and looking at the issue firsthand. The container stacking bottleneck wouldn't have been as easy to spot from a distance.
2) Communication can go a long way in solving problems. Even in a hyperconnected world, we can still solve problems fairly trivially by just getting the right people to talk to each other.