Walmart Boosting Off-Peak Container Processing in LA by Up to 50%

Big-box retailers including Walmart, along with FedEx FDX and UPS UPS, have detailed plans to expand container operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as part of the Biden administration's efforts to unclog a massive bottleneck at the country's largest container terminal complex.

The details come ahead of a virtual meeting President Joe Biden is holding with port leadership and dock labor on Wednesday to discuss transportation challenges throughout the supply chain.

"Unlike leading ports around the world, U.S. ports have failed to realize the full possibility offered by operation on nights and weekends," the White House underscored in a statement on Wednesday.

"Moving goods during off-peak hours can help move goods out of ports faster. For example, at the Port of L.A., goods move 25% faster at night than during the day. These commitments will help unlock capacity in the rest of the system — including highways, railroads and warehouses — by reducing congestion during the day."

Walmart WMT, the nation's largest retailer, has committed to increasing its nighttime hours at the ports "significantly," according to the White House, and projects that throughput could increase by as much as 50% over the next several weeks. The Home Depot HD committed to move up to 10% additional containers per week through the port complex. Target — which is already moving half of its containers through the ports at night, the White House stated — will increase that by an additional 10% over the next 90 days.

Other efforts the White House said private companies are undertaking to boost container throughput at the complex include:

  • UPS' commitment to increased use of 24/7 operations and enhanced data sharing with the ports, which could allow it to move up to 20% more containers.
  • FedEx's commitment to combine an increase in nighttime hours with changes to trucking and rail use to increase the volume of containers it will move from the ports. "Once these changes are in place, they could double the volume of cargo they can move out of the ports at night," the White House stated.
  • Samsung's commitment to move nearly 60% more containers out of these ports by operating 24/7 through the next 90 days.

These private-sector efforts will result in an additional 3,500 containers per week moving at night at the two ports through the end of the year, according to the White House. Last year the two ports combined to process an average of roughly 300,000 inbound and outbound shipments per week.

The administration also announced that the Port of Los Angeles is joining the Port of Long Beach in expanding to 24/7 operations by adding new off-peak night shifts and weekend hours. "This expansion means the Port of Los Angeles has nearly doubled the hours that cargo will be able to move out of its docks and on highways."

The administration added that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said its members are willing to work extra shifts.

"This will add needed capacity to put towards clearing existing backlogs," the White House stated. "This is an important first step; now the private businesses along the supply chain need to move their operations to 24/7."

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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