Ocean Freight Delays Impact US Exhibition Logistics

Apr-09-2022 | by: TWI Admin

Delay and more delays. This is the new norm in tradeshow logistics and transportation.  International Exhibitors sending in their exhibits in a strong return to in person exhibitions are experiencing a new threat, the non-delivery of the shipments arriving by ocean.

Since the return of tradeshows in the USA and especially Las Vegas since Fall 2022, we have see the impact of the supply chain congestion on exhibition logistics

1.  All ships arriving to ports on time are not able to unload for days, and weeks, so the containers are not available to be picked up. Even in this situation, ocean lines tracking often show the containers as "arrived" and "available".  All the while, the containers are still on the ship and the ship is not even at port, instead anchored off shore waiting for a berth.

2.  The terminals either have no space for the containers that need to be offloaded from inbound ships. Or, they do not have the labor available. When you add the fact that ships are anchored off show waiting for a berth, the effects affect all containers that are shiping into the US with freight destined to tradeshows and exhibitions.

3. If within days or weeks, the ship is allowed to anchor and the containers are finally unloaded, the next obstacle is if the containers can be actually picked up. This is no easy feat!  There are times the terminal will position / park a container in an area that is being "worked" by the port and in this case, the containers are actually on the ground, but not available to be picked up. This can cause additional delays of days and weeks.  If the container is actually available, truckers have to make an appointment in a computer based system to find an open slot for an appointment to pick up the container.

4. Once a trucker obtains an appointment to pick up the container, the next challenge is for the trucker to find a chassis to actually pick up the container. With no room at the ports, empty containers start to stack up at the terminals and when full, the truckers have to keep empty containers at their depot. Once filled, empty containers stay on a chassis as there is no where to offload them. The results are, limited container chassis available to pick up the inbound container destined for a tradeshow!

5.  Many ports are having difficutly around the US, Long Beach and Los Angeles are strongly impacted since the majority of cargo importing is via these two ports.

Solutions? For international exhibitors, the key is to produce your exhibit locally in US rather than shipping. If that is not possible, ship a month or more earlier than scheduled as there will be uncontrolled delays.  You can choose another port that may not be as busy and then we can transload your shipment and truck it to where it needs to go. Alternatively, international exhibitors may need to choose airfreight to move their exhibition shipments. While more expensive, there is a lot more flexibilty with airfreight today, compared to ocean freight.

As you are planning for your tradeshows in the US, be sure to contact us well in advance so we can go over all your options.