Truckers confront supply chain 'constipation'

The ripple effect of global supply chain issues has not only hit U.S ports but the country’s roads as well.

Gustavo Carrion Valero has been a truck driver for more than 30 years – mostly servicing New York’s JFK airport – and said heading into the holidays he often works ‘round the clock due to the pressures of the job.

"So right now I start at four in the morning, to finish my shift, sometimes one, two, three in the morning. All day."

The president of HNR Freight, Michael Triolo, where Carrion Valero works, said truck drivers sometimes wait 20 hours at JFK just to load one shipment.

“Drivers are getting frustrated, frustrated with staff at the airlines, frustrated with each other in the parking lot. There's been altercations back and forth with lack of, lack of structure to pick up the cargo in the airport."

That’s a big problem given that trucks move about 70 percent of all the freight on the ground, says Stephen Flynn, head of the Global Resilience Institute at Northwestern University.

"Folks who are on the ground are doing all they can to essentially work around a system that's basically in complete constipation.”

Liz Picarazzi, founder of custom trash container company Citibin, said between sourcing raw materials like bamboo and aluminum, and shipping, her product is part of about 15 different supply chain lines.

“So the shipment that we just received was on a very long journey. It was about seven months when normally it would be about 10 to 12 weeks."

Her husband Frank, the company’s COO, said it’s impossible to run a (quote) “lean” business due to the unpredictable nature of the health crisis.

“A shutdown in a hub in China means months of delays over here. So you can't really be agile anymore or nimble, you have to buy, overbuy inventory - so when you eventually receive it you've got six months of supply so you can basically remain in business."

Despite companies like UPS and FedEx pledging to work 24/7 to ease the glut, supply chain problems are expected to last into 2022.

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