This past year and a half has been unprecedented on many, many levels. The earliest months of the COVID-19 pandemic ground production to a halt in some segments, while creating rushes on other consumer goods that strained supply chains around the globe.
At the same time, increasing interest in e-commerce solutions transformed the service economy by pushing up demand for same-day and next-day fulfillment of goods, including brick-and-mortar staples like groceries.
By summer of last year, demand was way up at America’s ports, despite the economic uncertainty. This is especially true for oversized goods like appliances, furniture, and building materials, all of which experienced shortages (and price spikes) at various points in the year. In many senses, shipping and logistics dramatically leapt years ahead in technology adoption and consumer tastes in only 15 short months.
The Port of LA handles almost 1 in 10 of every US import, so it’s no surprise that operations at this vital hub were altered in remarkable ways. But how is the Port of LA planning for the future and making moves toward more sustainable practices?
Port of LA reaches 10 million containers
The Port of LA recently reached a new milestone for processing containers, being the first port in the western hemisphere to process 10 million containers in a 12 month period.
This unbelievable achievement was undertaken in part because the port remained open every day during the pandemic without interruption. While other businesses shuttered, the port implemented protective measures early and limited the amount of person-to-person contact between essential workers on site. Thanks to recent adoption of advanced technologies, companies operating out of the port were able to adhere to evolving best practices for safety.
The 10 millionth container belonged to CMA CGM. They cite the consumer buying surge brought on by the pandemic, specifically restocking retailers and ecommerce warehouses across the country, for the substantive rise in imports.
Emissions free by 2030
As supply continues to come in, the port has been making efforts to continue to improve environmental impact by reducing carbon emissions and introducing ‘greener’ practices.
The shipping industry is responsible for 2.5% of the world’s global greenhouse gases — a significant impact that large companies and governments aim to reduce substantially in the coming years. Getting ahead of the competition, the Port of LA and Long Beach now have a goal of being emissions-free by 2030 and are well on the way to achieving that objective. “The clean transportation revolution is not a distant dream from a far-off future,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, “it’s a reality happening on our streets and at our ports right now.”
One major development, Project 800, calls for 800 emissions-free, heavy-duty trucks to be ordered for service at California’s ports. This program aims to give the Port of LA a leg up in complying with a statewide executive order mandating all new passenger vehicle sales be zero-emission by 2035, including heavy-duty trucks transporting containers to or from California ports. And a recent investment from Electrify America for $25 million has the aim of reducing emissions from transit and freight by shifting to electricity or other sources of renewable energy.
The future of shipping
The future of shipping is already here. From tech-enabled drayage, to intermodal efficiency, to sustainability, the Port of LA is innovating in all areas of the supply chain.
Here are some exciting new developments in the industry to watch out for:
- The future of regional shipping will be autonomous and focused on electricity to increase the sustainability of the industry. This would reduce CO2 emissions and cost by limiting the amount of manpower needed to manage container vessels.
- There are currently plans in the works for a zero emissions, autonomous, and electric ship that could revolutionize transport around the world.
- The end of diesel is coming, and new options for alternative fuel sources — such as electric, biofuel hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and nuclear — are on the horizon.
In the wake of widespread automation, the port is reskilling or upskilling the existing workforce to ensure that skilled labor is available.
A lot has changed in recent months, and much more will change before the decade is over. As ports transition to more sustainable solutions and imports continue to increase, Los Angeles and Long Beach are well-positioned to be international transport leaders.
Want to get in on the action at the ports? Partnering with an experienced partner like Globecon makes the barrier of entry manageable. Globecon has advanced software designed to make drayage, freight forwarding, and warehousing easy for our clients.