Last night Flexport brought a taco truck to the Port of Long Beach as a big thank you to the ILWU laborers there working like crazy to clear this container backlog. A thread on what we learned! /1 ImageImage
First off, they told us that Flexport is the first outside company in the history of the port to send in a food truck as a sign of gratitude. They loved it. /2
During our evening at the port only one truck showed up. The 24/7 gates don't matter if nobody comes to pick up the containers. Big opportunity for companies that can operate their receiving facilities at night and send trucks to the port when there is no line. /3
For all of second shift they are seeing 50 trucks or less on most nights. Trucks aren’t even coming in after midnights. They have had nights with zero trucks. Despite that, appointments are “full.” They have so many no-shows they don’t know how to plan the yard. /4
No pulls mean a full yard. Between dwelling imports and empties, there is no room to place new containers in the yard. A ship they would normally work with 4-6 cranes they have 2 on. /5
Those 2 are still pumping 30+ containers an hour, but they can’t push more because the containers have nowhere to go. /6
They are loading empties out. That isn’t a restriction. But with only 2 cranes they run out of time and have to cut the ship loose. /7
Rail has caught up. They have almost no rail containers left waiting to go out. This is a huge win and freed up additional yard space (which quickly filled). /8
Equipment is an issue. The one spot they are truly short labor is on maintenance. Spare parts are in short supply. So even if they did ramp into full ops they would struggle with yard equipment. *But there are chassis. /9
A lot of them are dedicated to one carrier but they do have chassis. The problem though is as they issue them out, and they break, there is no way to fix them. /10
Those chassis are for an on-wheels premium service but they can’t put the containers onto the chassis because they have nowhere to park the chassis. /11
They are not intentionally slow working. COVID is not an issue. There is no intentional labor slowdown. They want more shifts. They want to work. /12
But also even if they went to 24/7 ops is would just look like more of the above. They don’t have enough skilled labor and management to work full out 24/7. How long would it take to get there? A year or more. Less working, after all, means fewer training opportunities. /13
Quick to note that they blame no one. Really, they don’t. They find it all very interesting but at the end of the day they clock in, do their jobs, and go home to their families. They truly love the work and are proud of what they are doing. /14
Big shoutout to the Flexport LA team that pulled this taco Tuesday together and approached the workers with such empathy that we got this very clear picture of life on the ground right now. It's so easy to point fingers in the midst of a crisis. /15
Super important that we continue to gather the best real time insights (observe), put that information in context with the right people who need to know (orient), make decisions (decide), take decisive action (act). /16
By iterating through this OODA loop with incredible velocity (not just speed, but speed in the right direction), Flexport can work with the entire supply chain ecosystem to fight through the friction that is making the seemingly easy feel impossible right now.
It's a very exciting time to work in supply chain. The pressure is on. Time for us all to step up.

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More from @typesfast

2 Dec
The decline in ships waiting just offshore of Los Angeles/Long Beach continues to be touted as a sign that port congestion is easing — despite the fact that the true number of waiting ships has not actually declined.

The ports just made the ships wait out at sea to avoid air pollution in LA. The overall queue, including container ships waiting out at sea is larger than ever.
"The total — 94 — was just shy of Monday’s all-time record of 96 (including ships outside the SAQA), and up 27% from the count on Oct. 25."
Read 12 tweets
18 Nov
Global supply chains are a mess. The world's logistics infrastructure has proven incapable of scaling to the demands of a global economy going through more chaotic evolution than ever. 1/
Prices for pretty much all logistics and supply chain services have reached all time highs while service levels and transit times have never been worse. 2/
In hindsight, the signs were there for years. Almost no logistics companies can show you where your freight is in real-time on a map. Most data is exchanged in unstructured email messages with attachments. There are almost no logistics APIs to speak of. 3/
Read 32 tweets
31 Oct
Tomorrow the new fees for not picking up your containers on time at the Ports of LA-Long Beach go into effect. The fees go up by $100 everyday, so by Day 30 charges reach $46,500 per container. 1/n Image
In my tweetstorm last week I called out all the reasons that it was so challenging for importers to find available chassis and get appointments to pick up containers at the port. 2/n
This new 'emergency fee' punishes importers for a problem totally outside their control. Brands need the merchandise for the holidays. They would LOVE to come get those containers. 3/n
Read 12 tweets
28 Oct
What caused all the supply chain bottlenecks? Modern finance with its obsession with "Return on Equity."
To show great ROE almost every CEO stripped their company of all but the bare minimum of assets. Just in time everything. No excess capacity. No strategic reserves. No cash on the balance sheet. Minimal R&D.
We stripped the shock absorbers out of the economy in pursuit of better short term metrics.
Read 23 tweets
22 Oct
Yesterday I rented a boat and took the leader of one of Flexport's partners in Long Beach on a 3 hour of the port complex. Here's a thread about what I learned.
First off, the boat captain said we were the first company to ever rent his boat to tour the port to see how everything was working up close. His usual business is doing memorial services at sea. He said we were a lot more fun than his regular customers.
The ports of LA/Long Beach are at a standstill. In a full 3 hour loop through the port complex, passing every single terminal, we saw less than a dozen containers get unloaded.
Read 30 tweets
28 Apr
I wrote a children's book about the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal. All proceeds will go toward's urgent shipping of supplies to frontline medical workers in India. Order yours here!
Big thanks to @paulg for editing the copy and making it more wonderful :)
Also thanks to @alexrkonrad who I'm pretty sure gave me this idea during our interview about the Suez a few weeks ago.
Read 5 tweets

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