A tentative agreement has been reached between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), ending the 9-month standoff between the parties operating the US West Coast ports. While this is good news, there is still so much backlog at the ports that it will take several months for the ports to operate at normal levels.
Congestion began building earlier last year, even before the last contract expired July 1. Employers have said union-coordinated work slowdowns exacerbated the problem, and provided data that cargo has been moving at about half its normal rate since the fall. However, both the PMA and ILWU have committed to return to full productivity levels immediately.
The port bottlenecks have caused a ripple effect that is deep and wide across nearly every industry. From perishable foods to automotive parts to retail products, pretty much every supply chain along the way has been disrupted, causing missed shipments and unhappy customers. Per Port Strategy magazine, “When port operations slowdown, and cargo begins to build up, a port-wide gray chassis pool is said to be one of the best options for efficient chassis provisioning.”
The recent announcement of the establishment of the Pool of Pools, which will provide chassis for the transportation of containers between ports, rail yards, and cargo destinations, will be a major help for smoothing operations at the West Coast ports. Chassis providers at the ports have created a pool of chassis available to rent or lease to help move the containers.
Per the recent press release, “The participating pool managers will monitor usage of the fleet and cooperate on the positioning of chassis across the complex, and will utilize a third party service provider to facilitate operation of the concept. This third party service provider will audit cross-pool chassis usage to allow the pools to compensate one another for such usage on a regular basis, and assist in preventing the exchange of competitively sensitive information between the pools and chassis providers.”
This third party is International Asset Systems, which created ChassisManager to facilitate chassis provisioning. IAS ChassisManager enables asset providers to easily and conveniently rent their chassis to their motor carrier partners and other potential chassis users. It also enables motor carriers to easily register, receive rental agreement approval, monitor their rented chassis fleet, view and reconcile chassis rental charges, and easily download information for billing.