2020 was a tumultuous year across the country and around the globe. No surprise that both uncertainty and the innovative spirit stood out as key themes at the Port of LA as well. But what is in store for the year to come?
Once a year, Executive Director of the Port of LA Gene Seroka shares his “State of the Port” presentation. This review of the exciting new developments at one of America’s largest and busiest ports is always one to watch, and this year was no different.
Here are some key highlights from the 2021 state of the Port of LA.
A pandemic/post-pandemic world
The past twelve months have been marked by major upheavals at the Port of LA, much like the rest of the world.
An unexpected 19% plunge in container volume in May presented one of the biggest slowdowns that major US ports have faced in years. “Then in the second half of the year,” Seroka reports, “American consumer demand created a pandemic-induced purchasing surge that our economy has never seen before. Our second-half volume increased nearly 50%.” By the week before Christmas 94% more traffic was going through the port.
The Port of LA met this uncommon pressure with hard work, collaboration, and a commitment to service that allowed it to “stay the course” and deliver strong performance — even in the face of a global pandemic. All while maintaining social distancing protocols that complicated an already challenging job.
Diversity was also in the front of everyone’s mind in 2020. Like many other industries, the supply chain had to reckon with its history of systemic inequalities, especially when it comes to gender and race.
According to Seroka, the port is turning a corner on that past by focusing on workplace diversity and strengthening investment in critical infrastructure to ensure a strong future. “We need a workforce that looks like LA,” he says, “[One] that reflects the beautiful diversity of this city in the faces of the women and men who come to work here every day.”
To make this objective a reality, the port has committed to a workforce training center that “takes a high-road approach to workforce development and advances the goal of racial equity.” This training program will provide opportunity to local high schools, and include training for formerly incarcerated men and women.
A major uptick in container demand did highlight some opportunities for growth and development at the port. Inefficiency still plagues the drayage process at the port, thanks in part to outdated technology and practices. That’s all going to change starting in 2021.
To incentivize efficiency, the Port of LA is launching a program to expedite turn times. Seroka announced proposed incentives to reward container terminals for monthly turn time improvements. A side effect of this focus on efficiency is a likely push toward technology adoption and data-driven decision making. With a new focus on using smart systems to speed up loading and unloading containers, more cargo will make its way through the port than ever before.
Leading 3PL companies like GlobeCon are already using advanced technology to expedite drayage, not to mention handle industry-leading intermodal transportation, freight forwarding and portside warehousing, and more.
With more than $473 million in capital improvement projects in 2020, sustainability remains a driving objective at the Port of Los Angeles. The new administration has set strong targets for reducing carbon output, and businesses at the port will need to step up in order to meet them. Some upcoming investment projects at the Port of LA include deepening berths for larger ships, expanding railroad storage tracks, building on-dock capacity and rail capacity, and more.
Despite the impacts of the pandemic, the port continued to advance its Clean Air Action Plan, while having serious conversations with stakeholders about the net-zero emissions future of the supply chain.
2020 was one of the most difficult years in recent memory. Despite the challenges everyone faced, the people at the Port of Los Angeles stuck to the plan, adapting to new conditions and providing the best service possible. In the coming years, capital improvements on infrastructure and sophisticated big data technologies will only improve that customer experience.
Want to expand your supply chain at the Port of LA and Long Beach? A partnership with GlobeCon gives you access to industry-leading technology and experience right out of the gates. We help you get cargo from the container to your customer faster.