Thunderbolt Global moves huge shipment from Turkey to Seattle, WA

Thunderbolt Global Logistics finished a project last in late February for one of our top clients that had a critical shipment from Turkey that delivered to their customer in Seattle, Washington on the northwest coast. There was a total of 9 pieces of static cargo. The 3 largest had the following weight/dims:

17,209 kgs/Dims: 650 x 600 x 490 cm
2,500 kgs/Dims: 490 x 490 x 150 cm
14,750 kgs/Dims: 450 x 450 x 350 cm

The other 6 pieces were not oversize and delivered on 2 flat bed trucks. From Turkey we had Bati Shipping arranged the transport from the factory in Turkey to Zeebrugge Belgium on a short sea RO/RO vessel due to the fact there was no service option from Turkey to Seattle or Tacoma.

Once the cargo arrived in Zeebrugge the cargo had to be transferred from the arrival terminal to the Wallenius Terminal in Zeebrugge at night. Europecargo based in Antwerp took care of that portion and set up the shipment from Zeebrugge to the Port of Tacoma on Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line. Both Bati Shipping and Europecargo did a great job.

The Wallenius vessel from Zeebrugge to Tacoma was only 1 day late from what they had showed on their schedule at the time of export. Unheard of these days for most ocean carriers. We had a deadline to deliver by a certain date and the vessel being on time was critical. We had no issue with customs clearance as it was cleared prior to arrival in Tacoma. The two widest pieces had to be delivered on the weekend between 1:00 AM – 6:00 AM

Delivery of the two widest pieces was complete by 2:30 AM in the morning Saturday. The other wide piece was delivered during the day on Friday and offloaded at night once the crane was set up at 1:00 AM. The balance of the shipment was picked up and delivered the following Monday morning.

Our photos shows the two widest pieces on the trucks with Mount Rainier in the distance outside the terminal gate. They had to wait there until 1:00 AM before they could depart. The cylindrical piece was transported during the day on Friday. Since it was 450 cm wide it could move during the day.

We are grateful for the help of our trucking partners. Omega Morgan handled the large piece delivered at night (2:00 AM Saturday). United Motor Freight handled the 8 other pieces 2 were night deliveries as well. We also want to thank the people at the Port of Tacoma at the pier and management who worked very closely with us.

The Thunderbolt team of Linda Serio in our Commercial Rates Department and Cathy Murphy in our Import Operations Department teamed up to provide excellent service for our customer. It was truly a team effort.

Thunderbolt Global featured in AJOT

Read Paul Abbott’s article in the Nov-Dec 2021 issue of AJOT:  Planning, innovation help meet challenges in shipment of project, breakbulk cargos

View the article.  (Right hand page)

 

Thunderbolt Global Logistics International & Domestic Thanksgiving 2021 Transportation Update

 

GLOBAL LOGISTICS ISSUES  

It’s Thanksgiving time in the United States.  The 4th Thursday of November is a day for family and football.   It’s a day we should relax and not think about the continued transportation crisis in the United States and abroad.     It’s been nearly 4 months since my last update.  Has much changed since the 4th of July?

I liken it to the movie Groundhog Day.  We wake up every day and the situation hasn’t changed much at all.   Port Congestion, Truck driver shortages, vessel space problems and high import ocean freight rates are still with us.

The mainstream media has finally caught to what is happening in our world.  We’ve been dealing with it for over a year.   Now shows like 60 Minutes and newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post are full of articles about the supply chain bottlenecks and increases in shipping cost that is helping to fuel inflation in the United States.   As if we didn’t know already.

We still have lengthy delays on shipments coming into the United States from Asia and Europe.   The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are still seeing length berthing delays and cargo pile up at the port.  The introduction of an “Excess Container Dwell Fee” effective November 29th is essentially super demurrage that the ocean carriers will pass on to importers.      Hopefully they will never charge this fee as will just get passed on to the importer by the ocean carriers.    On the East Coast the Port of Savannah is experiencing their version of congestion with up to   20-25 container ships anchoring off shore waiting to berth at Garden City Terminal.

Ocean carriers are making record profits and providing lackluster customer service and vessels that are rarely on time.   Quarterly earnings are in the billions of dollars for many of the ocean carriers.   Instead of giving us quality customer service many of them are impossible to reach on the phone or you have to wait nearly an hour to talk to a live person.  It just makes our job harder.

I do want to give a shout out to Independent Container Line (ICL) who value schedule integrity more than any other carrier in the market.  They are rarely late into and out of their 2 USA ports of call (Chester, PA and Wilmington, NC).    Customer service from ACL (Atlantic Container Line) is consistently one of the best.

Trucking capacity is a major pain point for the entire country.    There are very few ports/inland rail ramps that are immune to the driver shortage for those truckers that pick up and delivery containers.    It’s a real crisis in nearly the whole country.     We try to utilize secondary inland locations like Worcester, MA for Northern New England destinations and Council Bluffs Iowa (Omaha) for origins/destination is that part of the country.     We try to avoid Chicago and New York if we can due to the capacity crunch in those markets.

The chassis shortage all over the United States are ports and inland rail terminals is not going away anytime soon as production delays in the United States have stalled delivery on new chassis to the second half of 2022.     In most countries around the world chassis are owned by the trucking company.  In the United States very few trucking companies have made the investment for a variety of reasons (space in their yard, cost, maintenance requirements).

Import air freight rates to the United States are still at a high level due to the lack of passenger flights worldwide.   European and American airlines should be adding passenger flights since the U.S. opened up to vaccinated travelers. There still isn’t enough belly space in passenger planes to meet the demand.

Air rates from China/Asia have climbed to record levels due to high demand for air freight.  Since ocean rates are so high many importers are using air freight.    Rates over $12.00/kg are not unusual from Shanghai to some destinations in the United States. All told it’s a daily challenge to meet the requirements of our customer and our overseas partners. We are fighting hard to deliver the service that you all need.

Hopefully the day will come in 2022 when we will wake up and it won’t be Groundhog Day. Ocean rates will drop to a more reasonable level from all origins around the world. We will see more chassis available all over the country.   We will have more drivers available to move our shipments from Point A to Point B. Ocean carriers will provide a higher level of customer service.

EUROPE TO THE UNITED STATES

Full container shipments from North Europe and the Mediterranean region are still severely overbooked to the United States.  Germany in particular is in a difficult place right now as there are container shortages, trucking capacity problems and overwhelmed terminals in Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Hapag Lloyd is the carrier that seems to taking bookings and then short shipping containers due to space issues.

We still recommend that any importer tell their suppliers to make their bookings at least 30 days in advance to secure space.  Last minute space is really impossible right now.    Be prepared for continued higher shipping costs and space issues from Europe in 2022.

We are utilizing RO/RO carriers to move cargo that may be possible to containerize on mafi trailers from Northern Europe.  Due to the computer chip shortage the RO/RO carriers have more space for static cargo since cars are not being shipped in normal volumes.

ASIA to the UNITED STATES

Imports from all over Asia into United States are still going strong.   Space and available equipment are very difficult right now from all countries in Asia.   Rates had been over $20,000.00 per 40’ standard/HC container from some origins in Asia to the east coast of the United States.    The rates have softened some but they are expected to climb as we get closer to Chinese New Year February 1-8,2021     Ports like Xingang and Dalian in Northern China that rely on feeder vessels to marry up with mother vessels from ports like Busan or Shanghai are severely backlogged with space very hard to obtain.   If there is a Covid outbreak in any port in China it can stop that port from operating at capacity for up to 2 weeks and cause major vessel delays.

Space to the Port of Baltimore is very difficult these days.  Even though Maersk Line started a new service this fall from Vietnam and Ningbo/Shanghai direct to Baltimore the vessel size is small (around 4000 TEU’s) space is still hard to find.    Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping have a direct call to Baltimore as does Evergreen Line (with partners Zim, OOCL, Cosco and CMA CGM) however they limit space to those carriers.

This has caused us to utilize New York or Norfolk when we can’t get space to Baltimore.  Our friends at the Maryland Port Administration have been made aware of this issue and they are talking to the ocean carriers to see what they can do to add additional allocation to Baltimore.

The carriers are still charging cancellation fees of up to $1,000.00 if a confirmed booking is not used or a container misses a cut off at the port.   Be certain you have a supplier that is ready to load if a booking is made.   Space should be booked 3-4 weeks or more in advance to get the process going.

Ocean carriers are still trying to get the empty containers back to Asia at the expense of loaded exports from the United States.   Import rates from Asia are 6x higher than export rates to Asia.    We don’t see this trend changing in the near future.  Space from India to the United States is also at premium as well with rates that continue to climb.

Med Shipping did add a new service from India that will call the Port of Baltimore directly.  Even with that there is high demand and not enough space from the Indian Sub Continent to the east coast of the United States.

EXPORTS FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ASIA AND EUROPE

Container availability at inland depots is still a problem.  Vessel schedule delays are causing cut offs to change at inland depots and ports and this can add costs for shippers that have already loaded their containers but they can’t be returned to the rail terminal or port due to a change in the earliest return date.   Space to Europe and Asia for full containers is difficult.   Bookings should be made at least 3 weeks in advance.

Exports to Europe are difficult now. Hapag Lloyd is really causing problems as they are leaving cargo behind on a regular basis and splitting bookings.  Vessel schedules are in flux due to weather and port congestion.   Some carriers have stopped calling the Port of Savannah on some trade lanes due to delays there.  Space is still tight to Middle East ports in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.

PORT CONGESTION ISSUES IN THE UNITED STATES

The port congestion problem on both coasts are still happening.    This is what a lot of people are hearing about on television and on line.    Vessels are still waiting to berth for up to 2 weeks in Long Beach/Los Angeles and Oakland.   There are over 90 vessels waiting to dock in Long Beach/L.A.    It’s even impacting the Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

Terminal congestion is a major problem as it’s taking several hours for truckers to pick up or return containers to the port.  This is adding a cost to both imports and exporters when truckers have to wait for long periods to pick up or return containers.      Most main seaports on the east coast are experiencing terminal congestion though it is easing somewhat in ports like Norfolk.

Savannah has the most congestion problems on the east coast with vessel berthing delays.   This has caused some ocean carriers to omit Savannah and utilize Charleston.

The Port of Baltimore is actually in very good shape right now.  We just the steamship lines to bring their vessels here.

The Port of Philadelphia has seen a large uptick in cargo volume and that has caused a strain on truck capacity.    The Port of Boston lost its direct call from Asia when the shipping lines stopped the service due to the delays in Savannah.

The Port of Norfolk had some major delays with rail moves about 4-6 weeks ago but now containers are moving relatively quickly once discharged from the vessel.   Norfolk is a main gateway to Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

The Port of Miami and Port Everglades are still seeing major problems with congestion and truckers not being able to get in and out of the port due to lack of available appointments.    It’s been bad there for months.

The Port of Houston is still having congestion and also chassis problems which impacting the pick up of containers at the port.   The port is eagerly trying to woo more carriers from Asia to call on Houston and bypass the west coast.

CANADIAN PORTS

The Port of Vancouver is recovering from a massive rainstorm that caused mudslides on the main rail and truck routes going from and to the port.   The roads and rail routes have just opened up and there is a major backlog of containers at the port and vessels waiting to discharge.  Expect delays in and out of Vancouver for several weeks.

INLAND RAIL RAMP LOCATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Memphis and Columbus, OH are inland terminals that have so much volume that truckers can’t keep up.     The chassis shortage has caused containers to pile up at the rail yards and a lot importers are facing heavy rail and steamship demurrage costs.    Chicago is still a major choke point in the country.  We are looking to utilize alternate rail ramps when possible to avoid these difficult locations.

TRUCKING ISSUES IN THE UNITED STATES

Container drayage problems are still problematic at most ports and rail terminals.    Truckers don’t have enough drivers to handle the continued surge in imports.   We are seeing some truckers booked out for 4-5 weeks in many locations.    Chicago still has a chronic truck capacity problem.  Kansas City, Detroit, Louisville, Memphis and Columbus are difficult.    New York is also a port experiencing a huge surge in import volume and the truckers and warehouse can’t handle the volume.

On the west coast it’s very bad in Los Angeles/Long Beach for local moves.  A lot of large importers have set up transloading centers to move their cargo inland on domestic trucks instead of waiting for the containers to arrive in inland rail locations like Chicago & Memphis.

The chassis shortage situation is also compounding the problem everywhere.      Truckers that are using chassis on a daily basis are keeping them and paying the daily costs to keep their trucks moving.

Thunderbolt Global Logistics International & Domestic Mid-Year Transportation Update

GLOBAL LOGISTICS ISSUES
The definition of chaos is “Complete disorder and confusion”. This is the state of the global logistics world right now. It seems that every couple of weeks a new event happens that causes a hiccup in global shipping. From the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal for 6 days to a Covid outbreak in the Port of Yantian in China we are faced with events that impact the entire supply chain.

We still have lengthy delays on shipments coming into the United States from Asia and Europe. Capacity from/to the East Coast of South America to the United States are running full on the northbound leg. It’s very hard to get space from Brazil. Empty containers are in short supply in Asia, Europe and South America, especially in Brazil. In the United States there are pockets of containers shortages in inland depots but the more chronic problem is a lack of chassis available at ports and inland rail terminals. Containers are sitting in stacks in places like Chicago for weeks waiting for an available chassis. On top of that, demurrage and detention are being assessed and importers are paying tens of thousands of dollars in charges. It’s a very serious problem that has to be solved by the ocean carriers and chassis suppliers.

Container terminals are congested and problems exist with returning empty containers at some ports. New York is in a very bad state right now as truckers in some cases are not being allowed to return empty containers to the container yards or off-site locations as they are full.

Import air freight rates to the United States are still at a high level due to the lack of passenger flights worldwide. There is hope as the world recovers from Covid and more people travel. Airlines are adding passenger flights especially to/from Europe. There still isn’t enough belly space in passenger planes to meet the demand

EUROPE TO THE UNITED STATES
Full container shipments from North Europe and the Mediterranean region are severely overbooked to the United States. It still can take up to 30 days to get space from most European countries. Germany in particular is in a difficult place right now as there are container shortages, trucking capacity problems and overwhelmed terminals in Hamburg and Bremerhaven. Even LCL shipments are impacted as consolidators have a limit on the number of pallets they are willing to accept per booking.

Rate increases are planned for July of up to $1,000.00 per container and they will most likely continue to rise further in August. Even though some factories in Europe close during July and August there appears to be no letup in demand for space on vessels. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that this is going to change anytime soon. There still isn’t enough capacity to keep up with the demand. A lot of cargo that would normally move in containers or flat racks are moving on mafi trailers on RO/RO carriers like Wallenius Wilhelmsen, K-Line and Hoegh Lines. It’s a creative way to get the cargo moving.

We still recommend that any importer tell their suppliers to make their bookings at least 30 days in advance to secure space. Last minute space is really impossible right now. Be prepared for continued higher shipping costs from Europe.

ASIA to the UNITED STATES
Imports from all over Asia into United States have not let up. Space and available equipment are very difficult right now from all countries in Asia. Rates are in excess of $14,000.00 per 40’ standard/HC container from some origins in Asia to the east coast of the United States. The rates are still climbing to to the West Coast and inland locations like Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis. Ports like Xingang and Dalian in Northern China that rely on feeder vessels to marry up with mother vessels from ports like
Busan or Shanghai are severely backlogged with space very hard to obtain.

Ocean carriers are charging “premium rates” which can be $5,000.00 or more above the current market rate in order to get space on a vessel. The carriers are also charging cancellation fees of up to $1,000.00 if a confirmed booking is not used or a container misses a cut off at the port.

Space still needs to be booked 3-4 weeks or more in advance to get the process going. We are actually entering the “Peak Season” for imports from China as holiday merchandise typically ship from June – October. Space and equipment will become even more scarce and rates will continue to rise. I’m told that rates into Canada are exceeding $20,000.00 per container from China. That could happen to the United States too.

The Covid outbreak at the Port of Yantian spilled over to the Port of Nansha and reduced operating capacity to 30%. Vessels have skipped their port calls adding further congestion. Yantian is now back at full capacity but has a major backlog of cargo rotation.

Ocean carriers are still trying to get the empty containers back to Asia at the expense of loaded exports from the United States. Import rates from Asia are 6x higher than export rates to Asia. The greedy ocean carriers are making a fortune yet their customer service is still terrible for the most part.

Space from India to the United States is at a premium as well with rates rising every 15 days. There is high demand and not enough space from the Indian Sub Continent to the east coast of the United States.

EXPORTS FROM THE UNITED STATES TO ASIA AND EUROPE
Container availability at inland depots is still a problem. Vessel schedule delays are causing cut offs to change at inland depots and ports and this can add costs for shippers that have already loaded their containers but they can’t be returned to the rail terminal or port due to a change in the earliest return date. We are seeing carriers charge export container demurrage. Rates are going up, especially to Asia but not nearly at the level of import rates.

Exports to Europe are difficult now. We are seeing delays with some carriers to North Europe and the Mediterranean region (Italy/Spain in particular) of up to 1 month. Space is tight to Middle East ports in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. The rates have not really risen compared to the import side but the space problem has persisted.

PORT CONGESTION ISSUES IN THE UNITED STATES
The port congestion problem on both coasts are still happening. Vessels are still waiting to berth for several days in Long Beach/Los Angeles and Oakland. It’s even impacting the Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma. New York, Savannah and Miami have congestion problems and it will probably continue as volume of imports increase further this summer/fall. The current heat wave in the northwest is impacting terminal production and causing slowdowns.

Terminal congestion is a major problem as it’s taking several hours for truckers to pick up or return containers to the port. This is adding a cost to both imports and exporters when truckers have to wait for long periods to pick up or return containers.

The Port of Baltimore is actually in very good shape right now. The port will extend gate hours when necessary to alleviate congestion. Truck capacity is not nearly as difficult compared to ports like New York and Savannah.

We are not hearing of any major issues at the Port of Philadelphia or Boston. Service is limited at each port, especially to/from Europe and Asia.

The Port of Norfolk is seeing much higher volume and truckers there are backed up to 2 -3 weeks.
A lot of containers move inland by rail from Norfolk. Containers are moving without much of a delay by rail from Norfolk to interior locations like Louisville, Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City.
Hopefully that trend will continue.

The Port of Savannah has seen their volume of containerized imports go up dramatically. There are berthing delays in Savannah partly due to the fact that it is a river port and the tides dictate when vessels can travel up and discharge at Garden City Terminal.

The Port of Miami and Port Everglades are now seeing major problems with congestion and truckers not being able to get in and out of the port due to lack of available appointments.

The Port of Houston is having congestion and also chassis problems which impacting the pick up of containers at the port.

CANADIAN PORTS
The labor problems at the Port of Montreal have been settled for now however there are delays from Montreal to inland rail destinations in the United States. The same holds true at the Port of Halifax.
A lot of cargo to/from the U.S. Midwest arrive at Canadian ports and go by rail to U.S. inland depots.
There are delays for cargo moving by rail from the Ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert on the west coast of Canada to the U.S. Midwest locations in Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit.

INLAND RAIL RAMP LOCATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Memphis and Columbus, OH are inland terminals that have so much volume that truckers can’t keep up. Chicago is a huge consumer market and the other locations are major distribution centers for large retailers. Delays in containers coming off the train and either being grounded or mounted on chassis are happening in places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Memphis and Kansas City. Some rail terminals in Chicago are severely congested and have a chronic shortage of chassis.
Chicago, Memphis and Minneapolis have been having container shortages for export shipments.

TRUCKING ISSUES IN THE UNITED STATES
Container drayage problems are getting worse in many ports. Truckers don’t have enough drivers to handle the surge in imports. We are seeing some truckers booked out until in August in New York, Savannah and Charleston. Chicago has a chronic truck capacity problem. Kansas City, Minneapolis, Memphis and Columbus are difficult. Miami and Port Everglades are now seeing problems with available truck capacity. Many owner operators are still on the sidelines due to Covid 19. As unemployment benefits run out that may bring back some of the drivers. The Port of Baltimore is in good shape and there is available truck capacity.

The chassis situation is also compounding the problem. We are told that in Chicago Wal-Mart has taken thousands of chassis off the street and are sitting at their distribution center. They are using containers as short-term storage due to space problems at their distribution center. Truckers that are using chassis on a daily basis are keeping them and paying the daily costs to keep their trucks moving.

Flatbed and step deck trucks are in short supply in many locations. Norfolk in particular is really difficult right now as is Savannah. We are seeing a capacity crunch around the country. We are still seeing rates rising seemingly on a weekly basis, especially for flat bed trucks. The demand still far exceeds the supply of available trucks. Heavy haul capacity is starting to tighten up. Multi-axle trucks are seeing an increase in volume and that will put a squeeze on rates and availability. Summer construction is also causing permit delays for oversize cargo.

WHAT DO WE RECOMMEND
Continue to plan ahead for expected delays. The chaos will not stop anytime soon. This may last into 2022. Be prepared to pay more for freight charges for international and domestic freight. Tell your suppliers and customers to be aware of potential delays. For import shipments tell your suppliers to book 4 weeks in advance. Space will remain tight through the summer and fall. We hope it will let up some in the July/August in some European countries due to factory shut downs for summer vacation and maintenance. We need at least 2-3 weeks notice for any export shipment to check available space and truck capacity.
If you are importing from Brazil your suppliers need to book at least 4-5 weeks in advance and even with that there is a problem with empty containers being available at the time of shipment.

WHAT IS THUNDERBOLT GLOBAL LOGISTICS DOING?
Our dedicated team of professionals are working tirelessly to keep the cargo moving. It’s not easy and it’s taking longer to handle each transaction but we are getting the job done.

We did reopen our office on May 3rd and are working in a hybrid manner. It’s great to see some members of our team in person. There is no substitute for direct human contact.

Please contact us if you have any questions or need more information.
Be safe!

Jim Shapiro
Director

Thunderbolt Global Logistics International & Domestic Transportation Update

GLOBAL LOGISTICS ISSUES

There are transportation bottlenecks all over the United States and the world right now.  Vessels are arriving late and leaving late on both the east and west coast of the United States.    This is happening from/to Asia and Europe.    Vessels are also delayed from/to Asia to Europe and this is impacting available equipment in Europe for export to the United States.   Capacity to/from South America has been reduced, especially on the East Coast of South America.     Port congestion in the United States is growing and causing huge headaches and extra costs for importers and exporters alike.     Covid 19 has definitely played a role in this situation.

The supply chain is being impacting in numerous ways.  Import volumes have reached levels that have outpaced available truck capacity in most ports and inland locations.   Ports are struggling to keep up with the volume.  Export shipments are being impacted with all the vessel delays.  Cargo receiving dates at seaports and inland rail terminals are constantly changing, sometimes on a daily basis.     This leads to extra charges for exporters as the trucking company must hold an already loaded container until the vessel opens for receiving.  There are extra charges for yard storage and daily chassis fees.

WEST COAST USA PORT CONGESTION ISSUES

The problem that grabs the most attention right now is the port congestion in Long Beach and Los Angeles.    Surging imports from Asia (mostly China) into the west coast along with labor shortages at the pier due to Covid 19 cases have created a situation unseen for nearly 20 years.     Vessels are stuck for up to 2 weeks waiting to discharge their import containers and load export containers.  On a given day there can be anywhere from 30-40 container ships at anchor awaiting a berth in either Long Beach or Los Angeles.    These are huge vessels carrying thousands of containers per ship.

The two Southern California ports are the first port of call for most vessels arriving from Asia to the United States that do not sail directly to the Northwest.    The delays in the import arrival create a ripple effect both at the port of arrival and in the interior of the country.   It also has a negative effect on exports from the United States to Asia.    Only in the past 2 weeks has a carrier announced that they will bypass the ports of LB/LA and discharge first in Oakland.      CMA CGM made that announcement as the frustration with the delays caused them to rethink their port rotation.

EAST COAST USA PORT CONGESTION ISSUES

On the East Coast there is serious port congestion at the Port of New York.    Not as many ships are at anchor however there is a surge of imports from Asia and Europe.   Terminal congestion and a truck driver shortage has created significant problems there.   Truckers are charging congestions surcharges at some of the terminals at the Port of New York.     There are serious rail delays for inbound cargo that discharge in New York and are destined for inland cities like Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The Port of Baltimore is seeing few congestions issues other than when vessels bunch up and discharge back to back.    The port has extended gate hours when necessary to alleviate congestion.   When vessels delay it creates a space issue as loaded export containers are still sitting on the terminal and that creates congestion inside the terminal.

There are no issues at the Port of Boston.   Their volume has increased from Asia but they don’t have that many vessels calling the port directly so it rarely has the congestion issues that other ports have on the East Coast.

The Ports of Norfolk and Savannah have gained the most volume from Asia due the number of distribution centers that are in close proximity to the port.    Even with the increased volume the ports are not feeling the congestion issues that New York is having.

We haven’t heard too many reports of any major congestion issues at the Port of Charleston, Jacksonville, Port Everglades or Miami.

IMPACT ON CARGO MOVING BY RAIL TO/FROM THE MIDWEST

Inland rail depots in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati and Columbus are seeing a surge of imports as well.  There are rail delays both from the west coast and east coast to these areas.     In some cases, it’s taking 14-21 days for a container to move by rail from Southern California ports to the Midwest and 7-14 days or more from New York to the Midwest.    The rail delays are not as acute in the Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma.    Ports in Canada (Vancouver & Prince Rupert) that handle containers destined to the Midwest also have delays but nothing near what we have in Southern California.

From the East Coast the ports of Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah are not experiencing delays longer than 3-5 days at this time.   Norfolk is a major gateway to/from the Midwest.   Rail service is to Chicago, Detroit, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland are best served from Norfolk compared to New York.   From Europe the Canadian gateways of Halifax and Montreal are not experiencing abnormal delays to the Midwest.

For export cargo the delays have caused empty container shortages at many inland depots in the United States.  Equipment availability is very limited in many locations in the Midwest.     It’s a real problem for exports as some inland terminal locations have no available empty containers.  The delays also impact the earliest return date at the rail ramp.   When vessels delay at the port the ocean carriers then delay the earliest return date to the rail ramp.

IMPACT ON OCEAN FREIGHT RATES

This surge in demand for import cargo has resulted in a nearly fourfold increase in ocean rates from Asia to the United States.    This has also raised the cost of LCL (Less than Containerload) rates as well.  Space is not available from China and most other ports in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Philippines unless an importer wants to pay a premium of up to $ 3,000.00 per container.    It’s especially difficult right now with Chinese New Year coming at the end of the week.   It should get a little better after Chinese New Year.   The ocean carriers are blanking sailings to reduce congestion in Southern California.  A blank sailing is essentially a carrier skipping a call at a given port or the entire voyage.     The hope is that the backlog in Southern California will clear up to a more manageable level by the end of March.

Right now a steamship line would rather take an empty container back to China in order to get it turned around and exported back to the USA or Europe for 8 times the rate they get for an export from the USA to Asia.   They won’t admit it but that’s the reality.   They aren’t enthusiastic about carrying export cargo back to Asia.    Exporters and freight forwarders are protesting loudly to the ocean carriers and Federal Maritime Commission.

NEW FREIGHT SURCHARGES

Ocean carriers are charging equipment imbalance surcharges of up to $200.00 or more from some European origins  to the United States due to shortages of containers in Europe.       Importers should tell their suppliers to book at least 3 weeks in advance to secure space and equipment.     We are monitoring this situation very closely.

USA CONTAINER TRUCKING ISSUES

This leads us to the container trucking problems right now in the United States.    There are major capacity issues in most ports/inland rail terminals in the United States.     We must issue delivery instructions to our truckers at least 2-3 weeks in advance for import shipments and 10-14 days or more for export shipments.    It’s extremely difficult in New York, Chicago and Long Beach/Los Angeles.     Most other ports or inland depots require 7-10 days advance notice to secure a truck.     We are adding more truckers that can help us pick up and deliver containers for our customers and overseas agents.   We are also looking at using flat bed and step deck trucks when possible.

For instance, in New York most truckers are booked out at least 14-21 days or more.   The snowstorm last week made it even worse.   In Long Beach/Los Angeles it’s practically impossible to find any available truck capacity to pick up or deliver containers one month in advance.   It’s at least 7-10 days in most other ports and inland rail terminals around the country.  It’s a very challenging time.

Flatbed trucking is also seeing a capacity crunch around the country which is leading to increased rates.

It’s not as acute as it is for containers but there are issues.    Heavy haul capacity is still available though we expect to see it tighten up as the year progresses.

AIR FREIGHT

Air freight rates continue to be on the high side from all worldwide destinations.

Rates are at their peak now from China due to Chinese New Year CNY) on Feb. 12th.

The rates should ease up some after CNY as there isn’t the surge in masks or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that we had last year.

Passenger flight capacity is limited due to reduced flights.    Until Covid 19 restrictions are eased up there will not be an increase in passenger flights.     This is especially true from/to Europe and to the Middle East.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Try to forecast, and plan ahead for expected delays.  Make your suppliers and customers aware of potential delays.  Please note that this is a global logistics issue that does not seem to have an end in sight at this time.   If you have an export shipment contact us weeks in advance not days in advance of the ready to ship date.    For an import shipment tell your suppliers to book early not matter what the shipment size is going to be.   All shipments are impacted by this problem.

WHAT IS THUNDERBOLT GLOBAL DOING?

All of us at Thunderbolt Global Logistics are working diligently to keep the cargo moving without delays.   Some delays are out of our control.    We will strive to keep our customers and overseas partners updated on their shipments.

All of our employees are currently working remotely due to Covid 19.   We hope to be back in the office in some hybrid manner in March.

Please contact us if you have any questions or need more information.

Jim Shapiro
Director
Thunderbolt Global Logistics

CTPAT Initiatives Statement

In November 2001 U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a government- private sector partnership called the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT). The joint initiative is designed to improve the security of cargo entering the United States without inhibiting the flow of trade. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires participants to continually assess, develop, and communicate new practices to enhance security throughout the entire supply chain.

As participants Thunderbolt Global Logistics, LLC supports CTPAT initiatives and takes great pride in our role in protecting America from terrorism.  Thunderbolt’s management commits to the following procedures consistent with CTPAT Customs Broker Criteria.

  • Complying with CTPAT program requirements to ensure integrity at each stage of Thunderbolt’s supply chain.
  • Meeting recommended business and security practices.
  • Immediately notifying CBP and Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS) of any suspicious activities, anomalies, or security breaches.
  • Providing security guidelines and training for Thunderbolt Global Logistics employees.
  • Proactively educating and practicing outreach to Thunderbolt’s clients and business partners that may be unaware of CTPAT requirements.

While we are a small sized company our influence on international trade is not miniscule, and we take supply chain security very seriously.  Security is everyone’s responsibility and all of Thunderbolt’s employees, vendors, service providers, and visitors are expected to comply with CTPAT standards.

James (Jim) Shapiro LCB, CCS
Owner/Director
Thunderbolt Global Logistics, LLC

 

 

Thunderbolt Featured in Project Cargo Weekly

Jim Shapiro, Founder & Owner of Thunderbolt Logistics was interviewed  in Project Cargo Weekly.  An excerpt is below, and a link to the full article.

THUNDERBOLT GLOBAL LOGISTICS – BALTIMORE, USA
October 22, 2020 Interviews, Project Freight Forwarding, USA

Interview with Mr. Jim Shapiro, Owner

First of all, Jim can you explain to our readers about the choice of company name? Why did you choose the name Thunderbolt? When was the company started, and is it owned by you?

We use January 16, 2008 as our starting date as this was the date when we received our Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) license from the Federal Maritime Commission. There were three of us at the time, and we shared space with another freight forwarder who were friends of mine and they gave us free rent. Without them, it would have been harder to get the company going. It was several months before the financial crisis in late 2008. Thankfully, the crisis really didn’t impact us very much.

The company was started with my childhood friend Stu Tobin. We both grew up just outside of Boston. He and I had known each other since we were 12 & 11 years old, respectively. I was more involved commercially, and Stu handled all the administration. I had been in the industry 23 years when we started the company. I had worked for only one company prior to starting Thunderbolt. I learned so much from them over my first 23 years.

We chose the name Thunderbolt Global Logistics for a reason that not many people around the world may understand.  Stu and I wanted to name the company in a way that would make us both smile when we answered the phone.     We were both fans of the 1930’s comedy team, The Three Stooges. [Editor’s note: Anyone not familiar with this famous comedy trio, can click on this link to learn more.]  In one episode, called Playing the Ponies, they trade their restaurant for a nag of a horse called Thunderbolt.  He ended up winning the big race.  That’s where we got our name.  I also like thoroughbred horse racing.   Baltimore is famous for a horse race called The Preakness Stakes. This race, run on the third Saturday in May (except this year due to Covid 19), is the second jewel of the Triple Crown for 3-year-old horses .  That’s why we have a horse as part of our logo.

Whenever we have hired someone, we have them watch the Three Stooges episode on Day 1, so they know where the name came from.  We call it our “training video”.  Stu retired in early January 2020 and sold his 50% interest to me.  I am now the sole owner of the company.

There are a lot of logistics providers in the US and even more so on the East Coast.  What makes you stand out?

Our approach is to make the experience of working with Thunderbolt an easy one.  We want our clients and overseas partners to feel that it’s not difficult working with us.  We have always had a flat organizational structure, so decisions can be made quickly.   No red tape, no corporate B.S.  We don’t need 6 signatures to get approval to do something.  If it needs to get done, we get it done.   We are a relationship-driven company.   Personal relationships mean so much to us which is why I have traveled overseas a lot since we started the company.

We only have one office, but we have a national footprint due to our infrastructure.  We have asset and non-asset based truckers that we work with all over the United States.  We have warehouses that we work with in all ports and in most major cities in the interior of the country.  We have great relationships with the terminal operators and port officials in most of the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.  We try to be as creative as possible in finding solutions for our customers and overseas partners.

CLICK TO VIEW THE FULL ARTICLE ON PROJECT CARGO 

Thunderbolt Global Logisticsupdated statement on Covid-19/Coronavirus  March 20, 2020

Thunderbolt Global Logistics is very concerned about the health and welfare of everyone around the world and their families.  This is especially true for our staff, clients, agents and vendors.   It’s paramount we do everything we can to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Starting on Monday March 23, 2020 the majority of our staff will work remotely from home.  If the Federal Government, State of Maryland and City of Baltimore allow businesses to stay open, we will have someone in the office during the day. I will be in the office whenever a member of our staff is in the office.   All phone extensions are set up to transfer to the cell phone of the person you are trying to reach.  We are taking all necessary steps so that we have no disruption in service if we all have to telecommute.

We anticipate more state governments will ask non-essential businesses to close.    Logistics is considered an essential business/industry so we don’t anticipate that trucks will be idled.  Freight can and is moving right now with limited disruption.   The availability of drivers will be impacted as more restrictions are imposed.     We are monitoring the situation closely.     It will be challenging if companies close or reduce their hours and still delivery/pick up cargo.

At this time seaports and airports in the United States are open for cargo movement.  Some terminals are reducing their hours based on volume.  This is especially true at the Port of Long Beach/Los Angeles.  Space on vessels is very tight right now especially to/from Europe and to the Middle East and Asia.

It’s a very challenging time if you are shipping by air to/from anywhere in the world.  Passenger flights have been dramatically reduced and capacity worldwide has dwindled.   Air freight costs are increasing it seems on a daily basis.
It’s an unprecedented situation.

Our continued goal is to keep our staff healthy and safe and cargo moving without disruption.  Our great team at Thunderbolt Global Logistics will do everything we can to assist our clients, agents and domestic partners.

We hope everyone we work with stays safe and remains virus free.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Jim Shapiro

Thunderbolt Global Logistics LLC

jim@thunderboltglobal.com

410-633-2722

Thunderbolt Global Statement on Covid-19/Coronavirus

Thunderbolt Global Logistics is very concerned about the health and welfare of our excellent staff and their families.

At this time we are working from our office. This could change quickly depending on the situation in Baltimore City and the State of Maryland. All of our staff have the ability to telecommute from home. We are taking all necessary steps so that we have no disruption in service. If we all have to telecommute, we have done this previously when we have had bad weather and will work in the same manner if the need arises.

We have instituted a policy of no office visitors, no attending industry events, no overseas travel. We are following guidelines of the Center for Disease Control. We will continue to monitor their updates.

Our goal is to keep our staff safe and cargo moving without disruption. Our service level will not suffer if we have to work remotely. Hopefully the steps local, state and national government are taking will mitigate the spread of the virus.

We hope everyone we work with is safe and remains virus free.

Sincerely,
Jim Shapiro

Thunderbolt Global Logistics LLC

jim@thunderboltglobal.com
thunderboltglobal.com
410-633-2722

Section 301 Tariffs Phase Two

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published a list earlier this month of approximately $16 billion worth of imports from China that will be subject to a 25 percent additional tariff as part of the U.S. response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property. This second tranche of additional tariffs under Section 301 follows the first tranche of tariffs on approximately $34 billion of imports from China, which went into effect on July 6.

Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect the additional duties on Chinese imports on Thursday August 23, 2018. The second tranche (portion) of products can be accessed here.

In March 2018, USTR released the findings of its exhaustive Section 301 investigation that found China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory and burden U.S. commerce.

Specifically, the Section 301 investigation revealed:

·     China uses joint venture requirements, foreign investment restrictions, and administrative review and licensing processes to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.

·     China deprives U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations.

·     China directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets to generate large-scale technology transfer.

·     China conducts and supports cyber intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks to gain unauthorized access to commercially valuable business information.

A third list has been published and these may go into effect sometime in September. You can see the list of tariff numbers possibly impacted here.

Please contact your Import Coordinator if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Jim Shapiro/Stu Tobin

Thunderbolt Global Logistics LLC

https://thunderboltglobal.com/

410-633-2722