On the surface, the solution to the supply chain bottleneck at shipping ports seems straightforward enough: Get chassis to truckers for delivery before the next batch of imports arrives. But the massive backlog that crews are slowly whittling away at is preventing crews from making serious headway in the mishmash of idling containers.

In an attempt to speed up the process, relevant stakeholders are devising productivity inducements that can expedite the movement of freight.

From the Federal Maritime Commission to major ocean carriers, several organizations are offering certain incentives to work crews. The theory is if stakeholders reward hard work to make it more worth crew members' while, they'll be that much more likely to give it their all in terms of effort and execution.

Some traffic mitigation fees suspended until late January
For example, the aforementioned Federal Maritime Commission has decided to temporarily waive traffic mitigation fees on weekends so companies will take advantage of non-peak hours. Instead, the fees will only be in place from Monday through Friday and from 7 in the morning to just before 6 in the evening. The exemption is slated to sunset Jan. 31 and went into effect Dec. 1.

"Domestic and overseas ocean carriers are taking similar measures, providing financial incentives for jobs well done."

Meanwhile, domestic and overseas ocean carriers are taking similar measures, providing financial incentives for jobs well done. This includes CMA CGM. As Supply Chain Dive reported, the France-based carrier announced it will offer $100 per container for timely pickups that occur before sunset. And if those same punctual pickups take place on weekends, the credits will be doubled to $200.

"The CMA CGM Group is committed to doing everything we can to assist in improving overall supply chain velocity in southern California," said Ed Aldridge, president of CMA North America. "By incentivizing the movement of containers off the terminals and ensuring pickups can be made on nights and weekends at FMS, we will decrease truck turn times and expedite the flow of goods into the United States."

Aldridge added that this is one of the ways supply chain stakeholders need to step up and be a part of the solution to the current inventory crisis.

Backlogs are diminishing — slowly
The supply crunch has been illustrated in a number of different ways. From out-of-stock signs on retail shelves to steadily climbing prices for major foodstuffs like beef, pork and rice, virtually every aspect of the supply chain is feeling the effects of port bottlenecks. While there are various opinions as to the root cause of the snags — not to mention inflation — the amount of time containers are stuck in neutral is impossible to ignore. In July 2020, the percentage of shipments sitting for more than five days was less than 6%. Fourteen months later, nearly a third of shipments were experiencing such dwell times.

As of Dec. 6, 123 total ships were within 40 miles of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to a Twitter post from the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Of these, 62 were container ships, 35 of which were anchored or loitering. That's down from 135 total ships as of Dec. 3, of which 71 were container ships and 40 anchored or loitering.

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