Port of Albany on recovery despite global supply chain disruptions at largest U.S. gateways

By on September 26, 2021 0

ALBANY – Increasing volumes of freight shipped to the United States make 2021 the busiest year for the Port of Albany since 2018, a business that comes despite a volatile market and record stagnation of bottlenecks in the major US ports.

The supply chain disruptions that have forced a historic number of freighters to remain stranded, awaiting entry into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, do not appear to have such a severe impact on the Gateway much. smaller in Albany.

Richard Hendrick, CEO of Port of Albany, is pleased with the performance of the year so far and said it looks like there will be a ‘solid finish’ and strong activity for the next year.

At the same time last year, the port moved around 183,000 tonnes of cargo. Now, two-thirds of the way into 2021, Hendrick estimates that around 239,000 tonnes have been released.

Hendrick believes supply chain disruptions haven’t hampered the port’s operations as much as California’s due to its size. Although the Port of Albany is expanding to accommodate more, its operations are not expanding to other ports such as those in California and the New York Port Authority.

Steve Rossetti, president of the American Logistics Association, said ports such as California are suffering a huge delay because of “massive volume, limited capacity, and a funnel narrow enough that all that volume past”.

As demand “skyrocketed” and converged for in-home and out-of-home products during the various waves of the pandemic, businesses have been overwhelmed by the need to meet the fluctuating desires of consumers, according to Rossetti. It has disrupted the demand cycle and contributed to large-scale entry congestion.

However, the problems of the ports do not begin until there. Even when companies can get the product through, they face issues of trucking with limited supply that can move goods out of port, prolonging the process.

The BBC reported that the New York Port Authority was facing complications with transit beyond the port. Amanda Kwan, senior public information officer for the authority, said it was a matter of moving cargo out of the port via freight trains and trucks due to the high volume.

Kwan also told The Times Union that the port authority is striving to keep operations “smooth” even though it has endured “13 consecutive months of record freight activity driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, the changing consumer habits and consumption trends and current economic conditions. both regional and national recovery.

Rossetti believes there will be a “ripple effect” from the save.

“Receiving companies and shipping companies are very creative, so they will look to the port that can give them the fastest entry,” he said, noting that they may be diverting shipments. to smaller ports.

The Port of Albany has seen product changes in the pandemic that have made up for materials that have fallen behind. Usually, heavy loads and project cargoes – oversized parts for onshore wind turbines – make up a significant portion of the port’s tonnage, but the transport of these supplies slowed last year as fewer contracts were made.

Molasses and fertilizers, also popular stocks, came in smaller quantities. Last year, the port picked up around 14,000 tonnes via a terminal, up from 11,026 tonnes handled in 2018. Hendrick said that had changed dramatically in 2021 as little or no fertilizer or molasses had been shipped. He believes that international companies find it more profitable to ship their products to various more distant ports and to carry out the move by train and truck.

Hendrick said lease guarantees requiring companies to pay for terminal use regardless of the tonnage shipped were stabilizing the port’s revenues against the decline.

Two products that raised the port with high demand were lumber and pulp. A company that typically moved its lumber to big box stores via a south Philadelphia port grew to around 60,000 tonnes of freight via Albany for a short period in early 2021, which helped the local growth.

About four months later, the company corrected the course again and returned to the Port of Pennsylvania, according to Hendrick. The lumber arrived in a brief pass, but the Port of Albany was able to take advantage of the gap.

The pulp, imported from Switzerland, was processed by the port to factories where it was used to make toilet paper and kitchen towels. Demand for both of these items was incredibly high as consumers purchased large quantities amid panic buying spree and shortages during pandemic peaks.

And since the lull in heavy loads, activity on onshore wind projects has picked up, more than double what it was in 2020, according to Hendrick. The Port of Albany is also managing an 80-acre expansion in Bethlehem, where it hopes to manufacture and store parts of offshore wind turbines that would help develop wind power off the coast of Long Island.

Port of Albany officials assessed their success in handling the high activity by measuring the logging hours recorded and the dock charges levied against the budget. Logging hours are the time spent by staff working and loading goods onto trains, trucks and ships.

Last year, the port documented 32,000 hours worked for the year. Skidding hours in 2021 have already exceeded this total to reach 33,900 hours. A portion of Albany’s wharf charges – their rate for freight passing through and using the facilities – was projected at $ 320,000 in September 2020.

Looking at next year’s budget, port officials are forecasting $ 400,000 in wharf revenue compared to the $ 288,000 originally forecast for this year, or about $ 112,000 more, Hendrick said.

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