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How Can You Overcome Port Congestion?

There is no single issue that causes the problem of port congestion. There are multiple supply chain constraints, customs clearance components, and capacity constraints that happen simultaneously, resulting in substantial port delays. Still, it is an issue in which the effects can be mitigated by knowing the possible solutions to port congestion mentioned in this article.

Reasons For Port Congestion

Currently, several factors are contributing to a domino effect that is causing port congestion:

  • Imports into the United States have surged dramatically.
  • Empty shipping containers are taking up space at ports, leaving little room for new, full containers.
  • Cargo ships carrying goods are stuck outside of docks waiting to unload for weeks and in some cases months
  • Ships can’t discharge, because they’re full of containers, and there’s nowhere for the empty containers to go.
  • Port employees are sent home because of lack of work due to the port congestion. There isn’t enough time in the day to unload all the goods, making the matter even worse.
  • After many port employees were laid off during the pandemic, rehiring the same if not more employees to handle increased traffic has become a challenge
How Can You Overcome Port Congestion?

Possible Solutions to Port Congestion

While the physical restrictions of port and transportation facilities are beyond a manufacturer’s control, several strategies are implemented to guarantee that goods move smoothly from point to point. Some of the possible solutions for port congestions are:

1. Redistribution and virtual warehousing of cargo

Companies can better control their supply balance by negotiating with terminal operators in multiple ports with several cargo carriers. This option can give viable solutions for your inbound and outgoing supply chains without considerably affecting your expenses.

Greater flexibility can be obtained by strategically managing your inventory (also known as inventory-in-motion) by monitoring supply and demand during inland transit at the origin or destination.

2. Pre-planning

To avoid delays associated with port congestion, make sure you have your international shipping documentation in order before the vessel arrives at the target port. Then, you’ll be able to execute an “express release,” which is a procedure that permits you to clear the customs quickly. In this case, your goods will most likely be discharged before it reaches the port.

Make a pre-appointment with the port before your cargo is discharged to ensure you have a place to store it. You won’t have to look for space at an already crowded port this way. When you’re ready to pick up your container, the pre-appointment will ensure it isn’t buried in a stack someplace. Pre-planning isn’t a perfect port congestion solution considering the current situation, but it’s a step in the right direction for ensuring your cargo leaves the port on time.

3. Digital solutions

Mobile applications and real-time container tracking are examples of digital port congestion solutions that may be quickly adapted to combat the issue for carriers to guarantee that safety modifications are quickly (?) available. If shippers can observe changes to loads and containers’ rate, benefits, and status, they will be more productive.

4. Change is good

Change is another possible solution to cargo congestion. We’re all aware of several routes to travel from point A to point B. Although some are faster than others, you still have choices. However, if taking the quicker way entails sitting in traffic, or passing through that significant road construction project, you’ll take a different route.

This is also true when it comes to selecting a port. For example, if you’re delivering to Sacramento, California, and desire a shorter travel time, you’ll most likely discharge in Los Angeles. But if it will take four weeks to discharge your cargo in Los Angeles, considering alternative ports like the Port of Seattle, WA or Longview, WA that can get your cargo on the road sooner would likely be the more desirable option.

4. Beware of other factors

It’s critical to know what your final “free day” is if you’re putting your goods in a container and won’t be picking it up straight away. After your free day has passed, you will be charged for each day the container remains at the port. This drives up the cost of the product and contributes to port congestion.

4. Flexible schedules

Apart from challenges at the port, there are other obstacles to overcome. These issues need attention once your goods have arrived at the port. Both truck drivers and equipment to transport your freight are in limited supply. Due to federal hour of services (HOS) regulations, commercial drivers are limited to a certain number of hours every day. While you may want your cargo delivered at a specific time, it’s critical to recognize — and have your customers recognize — that it’s not always possible to deliver as soon as you’d like.


Shippers worldwide are experiencing port congestion. While attempts are being made to find the possible port congestion solutions, we will all have to work together to adjust to these dynamic issues that arise to get your goods delivered on time. Pre-planning and a flexible approach can help you overcome the issue.