By Steve Burns, Port Authority of NY & NJ spokesperson
With an uncertain economy and a fragile supply chain, staying nimble is a necessity for SMEs to keep goods flowing. As the busiest port on the U.S. East Coast, the Port of New York and New Jersey has learned to stay just as agile to meet its customers’ needs in innovative ways.
That agility came to the fore when supply chains were thrown into chaos during 2021 and 2022. As an example, auto manufacturers were one of the industries that found themselves in a tight spot. Shipping delays and container shortages overseas gave them few options to transport sorely needed foreign car parts to American assembly plants.
But quick-thinking stakeholders at the port saw a possible workaround. While space was severely constricted on cargo ships, plenty of extra capacity was available on Ro-ro vessels that carry vehicles. The Ro-ro shipping capacity had been created by a separate unrelated semi-conductor shortage, which led to a slowdown in car production.
The conversation and collaboration soon began between port officials, manufacturers, longshoremen, and auto processors, all of whom quickly agreed that the plan was feasible. Before long, those auto parts were shipped in crates alongside vehicles, tied down with hooks and straps. This became a well-oiled machine: longshoremen offloaded the crates to be loaded at the port onto tractor trailers destined for vehicle assembly lines.
The new shipping process has become a regular practice at the agency’s marine terminals. It was a seemingly intractable issue that has now led to new possibilities at the port.
“Our port’s size, capacity and breadth of capabilities through our tenants, stakeholders and their longstanding relationships with each other show that the port as a whole can operate like a Swiss Army knife," said Mike Bozza, the seaport’s assistant director of commercial development. “Once we identify the issue, we can pull out a solution by thinking outside the box – or the shipping container.”