Saturday, November 13, 2021

Ship This!

 While the supply – chain crisis gives the politicians and pundits yet another excuse to carry on their never-ending wars, the rest of us suffer. If you want to get a few observations from the field – in other words, reality – check out this essay posted on Medium by a veteran trucker. In other words read something by someone who knows what he's talking about instead of by people paid to bloviate. Ryan Johnson wrote:


I have a simple question for every ‘expert’ who thinks they understand the root causes of the shipping crisis:

Why is there only one crane for every 50–100 trucks at every port in America?

No ‘expert’ will answer this question....

Let’s start with understanding some things about ports. Outside of dedicated port trucking companies, most trucking companies won’t touch shipping containers. There is a reason for that.

Think of going to the port as going to WalMart on Black Friday, but imagine only ONE cashier for thousands of customers. Think about the lines. Except at a port, there are at least THREE lines to get a container in or out. The first line is the ‘in’ gate, where hundreds of trucks daily have to pass through 5–10 available gates. The second line is waiting to pick up your container. The third line is for waiting to get out. For each of these lines the wait time is a minimum of an hour, and I’ve waited up to 8 hours in the first line just to get into the port. Some ports are worse than others, but excessive wait times are not uncommon. It’s a rare day when a driver gets in and out in under two hours. By ‘rare day’, I mean maybe a handful of times a year. Ports don’t even begin to have enough workers to keep the ports fluid, and it doesn’t matter where you are, coastal or inland port, union or non-union port, it’s the same everywhere....

My prediction is that nothing is going to change and the shipping crisis is only going to get worse. Nobody in the supply chain wants to pay to solve the problem. They literally just won’t pay to solve the problem. At the point we are at now, things are so backed up that the backups THEMSELVES are causing container companies, ports, warehouses, and trucking companies to charge massive rate increases for doing literally NOTHING. Container companies have already decreased the maximum allowable times before containers have to be back to the port, and if the congestion is so bad that you can’t get the container back into the port when it is due, the container company can charge massive late fees. The ports themselves will start charging massive storage fees for not getting containers out on time — storage charges alone can run into thousands of dollars a day. Warehouses can charge massive premiums for their services, and so can trucking companies. Chronic understaffing has led to this problem, but it is allowing these same companies to charge ten times more for regular services. Since they’re not paying the workers any more than they did last year or five years ago, the whole industry sits back and cashes in on the mess it created. In fact, the more things are backed up, the more every point of the supply chain cashes in. There is literally NO incentive to change, even if it means consumers have to do holiday shopping in July and pay triple for shipping.

This is the new normal. All brought to you by the ‘experts’ running our supply chains. Rest of essay.

Read the rest of his column. It is well worth the time spent.




Anonymous said...

Sounds like some government regulation of the “free market” is needed.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry. Sleepy Joe Xiden has everything under control

Bill Gillespie said...

All this stuff use to come in on trains. That is when we had sense enough to have trains.

Anonymous said...

Late Stage Capitalism on display.
More cheap crap is being manufactured than the market needs or wants. And the influx of communist produced garbage has overwhelmed our just-in-time supply chain and prevents delivery of stuff the market truly needs.
An interesting note about the “chip shortage” is that one can still buy any CPU, GPU, memory, or game console from “marketplace sellers” on Amazon, Walmart, Newegg etc. at enormously inflated prices.
There isn’t really a chip shortage. There is a cheap chip shortage. The market has determined that computer chips should be much more expensive. It just so happens that Chinese merchants have cornered the market on this commodity that they do not produce themselves.

Anonymous said...

9:43, If you want to know the root cause of the “chip shortage,” look no further than the voltage regulator produced in Texas:

Meanwhile, TI has seen it’s profits soar, while it works to corner the market for it’s own chip production:

Anonymous said...

Bill Gillespie: How the hell do you think 'this stuff' got on a train? And, thank goodness for our ocean-going trains. Without high-speed rail and global, inter-ocean train routes we'd be up shit creek, right?

Don Drane said...

So, to be clear...Suddenly we're calling for more government regulation when that's exactly what caused our industrialization/manufacturing problems in the first place.

Anonymous said...

It's fun to read stuff like, "[s]ince they’re not paying the workers any more than they did last year or five years ago, the whole industry sits back and cashes in on the mess it created." But it's hard for me to put much credence in the opinion of a truckdriver supported by zero cites to any meaningful data. Is there really, "one crane for every 50–100 trucks at every port in America?" I don't know. Somewhere there might be data to support this and other of the allegations of this Big Wheel Rolling Essayist -- but it's not in the essay.

Then he puts a name to the bad'uns. BNSF. Oh-oh. That bad, bad Warren Buffet's at it again. When he's not busy giving away all his wealth and supporting liberal causes his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway -- which owns BNSF -- is busily sucking the blood of the proletariat. For fun and profit, but mainly profit.

Here a couple years ago I bought a new car. Oh, they screwed me on the trade-in and were generally hard to deal with. But they loaned me 19,200 for four years at zero percent. I had the dough in my checking account but instead of paying it to Toyota I bought 100 Berkshire B Shares at $192. Still have the car. AND the shares. They closed at $286 Friday.

So I guess it really bothers me that semi-skilled workers don't have porta-potties. Assuming, of course, that his conclusions are based on reliable, but uncited, data. Which I doubt.

On the other hand the estimable Mr. Johnson can simply opt to go to medical school, law school, engineering school, or otherwise improve his lot and QUIT WHINING!

Anonymous said...

I don’t know about supply chain issues, but if you drive around your neighborhood Walmart it seems to me that they have plenty of Christmas decorations and toys in stock. Then there is the 20 to 50 shipping containers on the parking lot of everyone I be been to in last couple of weeks. I think this is another made up crisis by Redumblicans ! We were able to get 90% of our shopping list as usual we shop the first week of November every year.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is retired from one of the large truck insurers and I ask him about dropping the age requirement to 18 -21. I read an article from a school saying that if that law was changed, more drivers. After he stopped laughing this is what he said. "Good luck getting them insured" no one is going to touch a driver of an 18-wheeler in that age group.

So seems some answers are not answers after all.

Bill Dees said...

Pogo was right. If we'd just stop buying stuff made in Asia the West Coast ports wouldn't be crowded. Everything you buy has a label that says where it was made. If the label says it was made in Asia, put it back of the shelf or on the rack.

Anonymous said...

The links you posted are really dumb propaganda.
VRMs don’t cause the shortages in chips. VRMs share space on the PCB (printed circuit board) with microprocessors.
However, TI is not even the best or most popular manufacturer of VRMs. That would be International Rectifier.

Anonymous said...

This essay is very informative and those commenting should read it to the end.

There is more to learn if you would googling about how the quasi-structure that makes up ports.

The " bottleneck" is, an this trucker points out, at the port. More truckers may well be needed but that is NOT the topic at hand.

The issue has become a common one. Those who profit from running our ports, reward themselves by reducing the wages of and number of employees and upgrading the " plant and equipment" it cranes or bathrooms.

Our political parties are so intent on winning for the party, the basics of government and economic function are lost.

Supply chains, like utility grids, and the health and safety of the citizenry are by necessity, government functions that can work piecemeal.
Our inflation exists now, not because the demand actually exceeds the upply, but because the ability to deliver the supply is broken. Government was reduced without regard to essential functions or mechanics (taking efficient machines off lines at the postal service was great for UPS and et. al. But, not for those who needing the services. We've forgotten that the US Postal Service was created as a national function BECAUSE the services were essential to a functioning society.

We truly are have become a Nation that understands the cost of everything, but the value of nothing. And, we are shockingly ignorant of how government or an economy is supposed to work. As a result, special interests can afford to convince you that your interests and theirs are always the same.

East Bound and Down... said...

7:08 - Screw you with your britches down in back of a 53' trailer for suggesting that truck drivers are unimportant, haven't achieved their occupational dreams and don't rise to your level of importance. When you're finished, call a lawyer or engineer to help you get down. Single, team, owner-operators and husband-wife teams are some of the finest men and women in America.

7:41 - You made that up. Nowhere near 20-50 containers behind ANY business, much less Wally World. But the few (if any) sitting there have been sitting there, empty, for months. You probably drive around back to use the dumpsters and think they're shipping containers with no tops. Besides, if you can read at a fourth grade level, you know there is a daily charge for a chassis. Oh, that's the thing your imaginary containers sit on - They have wheels.

Anonymous said...

Even if this is all true, why is it just now such a massive problem? No doubt the system is a PITA for truckers and has been. Why are there so many ships waiting to unload NOW. Something made the problem worse.

Anonymous said...

The ports are controlled by the thieving union thugs.....nuff said!

Anonymous said...

10:58 they may be around back in Madison but in most of the smaller towns they are out front on the parking lot with padlocks I see it everyday on my sales route.

Anonymous said...

Just remember! The government can’t fix the problem, the government is the problem. You never want to hear someone tell you that they are from the government and are here to help.

Anonymous said...

12:49 - that's a lie. You do NOT see shipping containers, padlocked or otherwise, in the front or back lots of businesses. Name a town and location where shipping containers are sitting idle, on chassis, padlocked on business property. There's your challenge. Shit or get off the pot. And good luck on your popcorn and candy route.

Anonymous said...

Gee 9:34, I've never seen a train back into Target, Best Buy or Outback to unload goods!!!!!

Anonymous said...

You don’t get out much 4:22, do you hit Cathage, Louisville, Hazelhurst or Yazoo City just to name a few!

Anonymous said...

7:45 - Problem with reading comprehension. Take the challenge. Name town AND business location of loaded containers sitting idle.

Let me help - Do it like this: In Yazoo City, Mississippi, half a mile past the 49 E/W intersection, at Billy-Bobs Bolt and Screw, there are 3 (40 or 50?), loaded, padlocked shipping containers on chassis in the north parking lot.

This, of course, assumes you even KNOW what a shipping container is.

Anonymous said...

Imports from Asia are tracking 14% higher than last year, and the ports were already at maximum capacity. Add labor, driver, and container shortages, and you've got a shit storm.

Anonymous said...

Remind me ... who is the Secretary of Transportation?

Anonymous said...

Bill, I sadly remember the day the last train from China ran...

Anonymous said...

11.14.21 @ 9:31 a.m.: You seem to have some knowledge of the "chip shortage" issue. I would appreciate some insight and suggested reading.

Thanks in advance. -11:25

Bubber said...

Container shortages? LOL.

I saw a KLLM Transport tractor pulling a container southbound about Grenada yesterday. Maybe it's an empty banana box.

Anonymous said...

"Container shortages? LOL."

Google "container shortage" and educate yourself.

Anonymous said...

Companies don't want to pay Americans to make goods anymore. American's don't want to pay companies to make goods in America anymore.
Now all the crap you buy is made overseas, shipped back to the U.S. and is cheaper than had it been made here.

So we are now "crap" junkies and the hold up at the ports is keeping us from getting our fix.

Meanwhile, drugs and contraband are moved into the U.S. along with cheap electronics, bikes, sunglasses, etc. because we can't keep up with the volume at the ports.

Anonymous said...

The containers behind the walmarts are for lay a way storage. They are empty when they are delivered to the store. They are simply used for more warehouse space due to the demand of lay a way.

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