I went inside the East Coast’s largest port and saw how a backlog of goods are moved amid the never-ending chaos of ships, trucks, and trains

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

  • The Port of New York and New Jersey has seen cargo volumes skyrocket during the pandemic.
  • An increase in e-commerce purchases during the pandemic has resulted in a backlog of goods.
  • Larger and larger ships are coming to the East Coast’s largest port to help keep goods moving.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Welcome to America’s front door.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the East Coast’s largest port with container terminals on each side of New York Habor that serve 46.3 million people within a four-hour driving radius.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A combination of ships, trucks, and trains all converge here to transport a myriad of goods. And in recent months, business has been booming.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A backlog of consumer goods built up during the pandemic contributed to higher than normal shipping levels as locked-down consumers fueled an e-commerce craze.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: The US is facing a supply-chain crisis as 21 cargo ships float off the coast of LA waiting to dock

It’s up to the port to help get consumers the items they ordered and keep global trade running smoothly.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

I went behind the scenes in the controlled chaos of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Here’s what I saw.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

It all starts with a customer. A consumer business on one side of the world buys a product that’s built on the other.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

One way to transport those products is via ocean shipping. Goods are put into a container that’s then loaded onto an ocean-faring ship and sent across the globe.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cargo volumes in 2020 actually started off worse than 2019 by a small variance but then rapidly worsened in the early months of the pandemic. In August, however, volumes jumped and the port quickly outpaced its 2019 volume from August through December.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A total of five months in 2020 saw what is normally eight months’ worth of volume.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A ship’s capacity is measured in 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs. One 20-foot container equals one TEU while a larger 40-foot container would be two TEUs.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled 7.5 million TEUs in 2020.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containerized shipping was actually created at the Port of New York and New Jersey in 1956. Before that, goods were offloaded onto trucks and driven long distances across the US.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Now, one ship can visit multiple ports, picking up and dropping off containers as it goes.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Consolidation in the ocean shipping industry has resulted in fewer companies. Common names at this port are Maersk, CMA CGM, and Ocean Network Express.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: 22 companies cashing in on the brutal log-jam at America’s busiest ports

Sharing agreements allow shipping companies to use space on each other’s boats. An Evergreen container on a CMA CGM ship isn’t uncommon, for example.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are cheap enough to buy at a cost of around $3,500 apiece. Tens of millions of these containers could be found across the world from the decks of container ships to the backs of trucks and to ports like this one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

They’re almost constantly in motion and identified by tracking numbers. Containers will often travel empty on container ships and companies will determine whether it’s worth it to ship the containers empty or just buy another one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Just like an airport, this port has its own privately-owned terminals where containers are loaded and unloaded from ships. The north side of the Elizabeth Channel, for example, is home to Port Newark Container Terminal while the south side is home to Maher Terminals.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Massive cranes greet the ships and immediately begin offloading and loading containers in a real-world game of Tetris.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Handling the containers are port workers known as longshoremen. The union positions are highly sought after thanks to good pay and benefits.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The typical progression for a longshoreman is starting as a baggage handler for cruise lines and then becoming an automobile driver for the car ships. From there, each longshoreman can choose their own specialty and hone their craft.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey doesn’t just handle containers, however, and other major imports and exports include automobiles…

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cement…

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

And edible oils. .

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Even scrap metal is a valuable commodity.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cruise ship terminals are also under the port’s purview but traffic in that sector has been almost entirely quiet for most of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Trucks are weighed when they enter the port and credentials, known as transportation worker identification credentials, are checked. They’ll then meet with a longshoreman to arrange a spot to pick up their load.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The terminal’s computer system then relays a message to another longshoreman, who then retrieves the container. Each truck is different and one can drop off one load and immediately pick up another one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

But not all pull the double duty. Some trucks are just picking up while others are just dropping off.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The process looks like a lot of waiting around but trucks should be in and out of the port in under two hours.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 80% of truck drivers are owner-operators, giving them more freedom than a fleet driver for an established company.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The trucks and rail lines that serve the port can bring goods as far as Tennessee, the Midwest, and Canada. Chicago, for example, is just a two-day rail trip from here.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 18% of cargo moves out of the port by rail. Some trains leave the port after being given a mile’s worth of the 20 and 40-foot containers.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Larger and larger ships have been arriving at this port since the pandemic began.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

One such ship is the CMA CGM Marco Polo, a container vessel with a maximum capacity of 16,022 TEUs. It’s the largest ship to visit the East Coast that can now access the Port of New York and New Jersey because of recent port improvements.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: The largest container ship to ever visit the East Coast just arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey: Meet the Marco Polo

Standing in the way between the port and larger ships, historically, has been the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York. While ships have grown in size, the bridge has remained the same for nearly 90 years.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

That was until the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spent $1.7 billion to raise the bridge’s roadway to allow larger ships to pass underneath. The new clearance of the bridge is now 215 feet and ships as large as 18,000 TEUs can pass underneath.

CMA CGM Marco Polo arrival
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The port has been seeing a steady stream of larger and larger ships ever since. The CMA CGM Brazil broke the port’s record in September, only to have the CMA CGM Marco Polo break it again in May.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo is considered a “New Panamax” ship since it’s greater than 12,500 TEUs. Standard “Panamax” ships were once the largest ships that the Panama Canal could accommodate until larger locks were added in the 2010s.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are stacked up on top of each other 200 feet high, with even more below deck.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

During offloading, a constant flow of these intermediary trucks approach the ship to receive containers.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are plucked from the ship by a crane that’s operated by a longshoreman sitting 200 feet off of the ground.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The longshoreman has an overhead view to make collecting the containers easier.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The massive containers are quickly whisked through the air by the crane as if weightless.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The longshoreman then lowers the crane, aligning the container with the truck below.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Once it’s dropped onto the truck, the container is secured and the truck drives off. It’s less than 30 seconds from the time the container is secured until the time the truck is on its way.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The process continues until all of the containers are offloaded.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The ship then receives a new load of containers to transport to the other side of the world. Foreign-flagged ships can’t move goods between two US ports under the Jones Act.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Exports from the US include cotton, forest products, agricultural supplies, and foodstuffs, to name a few.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 4,700 containers are being dropped and loaded, just under one-third of the CMA CGM Marco Polo’s total capacity.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

From the bridge of the Marco Polo, it’s containers for as far as the eye can see. The Port of New York and New Jersey never shut down operations during the pandemic.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Larger ships coming to the port also requires larger cranes.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The APM Terminals-operated cranes services the Marco Polo are a staggering 209 feet tall.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A maximum of seven cranes was assigned to the Marco Polo at its peak to help expedite the unloading process.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Not every container is searched by US Customs and Border Protection when they enter the country. The agency instead uses complex algorithms to detect anomalies that prompt searches.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Inspectors, for example, can look at the weight of a container and see if it matches up with the cargo listed on a manifest. If it doesn’t, that prompts a search.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Human smuggling isn’t a major issue on the East Coast compared to the West Coast, which has closer proximity to Asia, but ships do have to be on the lookout for stowaways.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Now that the Port of New York and New Jersey has proven it can handle larger ships, it’s only a matter of time before the record set by the Marco Polo will be shattered.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

And New York Harbor will continue to receive some of the largest ships in the world.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The largest container ship to ever visit the East Coast just arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey: Meet the Marco Polo

CMA CGM Marco Polo arrival
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

  • The CMA CGM Marco Polo is the largest container ship to visit the US East Coast.
  • It can carry a total of 16,022 containers that ship goods such as furniture, foodstuffs, and clothing.
  • Its arrival was possible due to a $1.7 billion project to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new record was just set at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo arrived in New York Harbor on Thursday morning after completing a three-week journey from China through the Suez Canal. It’s the largest container vessel to ever visit, or call, the East Coast of the US and was the largest in the world when it was built in 2013.

A total of 16,022 20-foot-equivalent containers, also known as TEUs, can fit on the ship that’s roughly the size of the Empire State Building. That many containers could cover 61 miles if put in a straight line, almost the width of New Jersey.

Inside the containers are a variety of consumer goods including home goods, furniture, and construction materials, bound for US customers. Over 10,000 shipping companies and customers are represented by the containers on the ship.

CMA CGM Marco Polo arrival
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

While it’s in the port, 5,000 TEUs will be offloaded onto a constant stream of trucks and then transported either by road or rail to their final destinations. Over 140 million people are served by the Port of New York and New Jersey and even destinations as far as Chicago are a short two-day train ride away.

Once the offloading process is complete, new containers will be put on the ship to be delivered at other ports of call as the Marco Polo continues its around-the-world journey. Popular exports from the US include cotton, forest products, agricultural supplies, and foodstuffs.

Before arriving in the US, the ship made stops in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Canada as part of CMA CGM’s Columbus JAX service. The Port of Savannah in Georgia will be the last port of call before the long trip back to Asia.

A record-setting pandemic

The Port of New York and New Jersey just celebrated a similar milestone in September when the CMA CGM Brazil broke the record now being broken by the Marco Polo.

Larger mega-ships have only recently been able to access the East Coast’s largest port since 2019. Standing in the way between the port and the massive freighters has been the Bayonne Bridge, connecting Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spent $1.7 billion to raise the roadway of the bridge and allow larger ships to pass underneath. Engineers also dredged the bottom of the Kill van Kull, using explosives to break up the bedrock below, to increase the depth of the port’s waterways to 50 feet.

CMA CGM Marco Polo arrival
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Ships with capacities as much as 18,000 TEUs can now access the Port of New York and New Jersey, giving shipping companies another option when serving the US. Some ships have been choosing to call the East Coast port instead of waiting in the backlog of ships outside the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, as Insider’s Brittany Chang saw firsthand.

Read More: 22 companies cashing in on the brutal log-jam at America’s busiest ports

And the Bayonne Bridge project was completed not a moment too soon. A backlog of consumer goods like furniture has been building up during the pandemic, and larger ships are required to meet the newfound demand.

The Marco Polo is just one ship that’s helping chip away at that backlog so consumers can receive the long-awaited goods they’ve ordered during the e-commerce boom of the pandemic.

Read More: The untold story of how the furniture industry crashed during the pandemic – and how smart players are rethinking it now

And while the Marco Polo’s arrival is a monumental occasion for the port, the ever-growing demand for mega-ships will likely mean an even larger ship may break the record once again in a few month’s time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A bad hurricane season could be the next headache for businesses already facing a supply shortage

iota monday morn
Satellite imagery captures Hurricane Iota bearing down on Nicaragua as a Category 5 hurricane on November 16, 2020. NOAA/NASA

  • It will be another active year for hurricanes following 2020’s record-breaking season.
  • The storms could cause problems for already struggling supply chains like lumber, oil, and pork.
  • “It’s a significant risk that all businesses need to be thinking about right now,” said AccuWeather.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A bad Atlantic hurricane season may be the next disruption to the supply chain.

“It looks like another active year,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter, “which is not good news.”

Items from lumber and housing supplies, to toilet paper and tampons, to gas and plastics, to pork and chicken, have been plagued by shortages caused by a sting of factors: Supply chains snarled in the coronavirus pandemic, backed-up ports, reverberations from the February Texas freeze, the Suez Canal blockage, worker scarcity, and the temporary shutdown of a vital oil pipeline, among other issues.

Though meteorologists aren’t predicting the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June through November, will be as record-breaking as 2020, they’re saying the number of named storms and hurricanes will be higher than in a normal year.

DTN, a Minnesota-based analytics firm, is predicting 20 named storms, compared to the annual average of 12. Of those, nine will be hurricanes, and four will be major hurricanes of category 3 or stronger. AccuWeather had similar predictions of 16 to 20 named storms, seven to 10 becoming hurricanes, and three to five to becoming major hurricanes.

The economic impact from last year’s hurricane season, which had six category 3 or higher storms, was about $60 to $65 billion in damage and losses, according to AccuWeather.

“The combination of another enhanced hurricane season and the threat of landfall across a big section of the East Coast of the US this year will be disruptive to the supply chain,” said Renny Vandewege, a leading weather expert at DTN.

Read more: Morgan Stanley says the stock market is flashing early warning signs of weakness as businesses face supply shortages. It recommends investors make these 4 trades to avoid the risks ahead.

Vandewege said the storms are more likely to favor the East Coast this year, compared to 2020, when the Gulf Coast felt a heavier impact.

The storms could “disrupt really anything that’s being imported in,” Vandewege said.

“We’re already having a months-long backup at the Port of Los Angeles, and then if we had also the same thing on the East Coast for an extended period of time, it could phenomenally exacerbate product shortages,” said Chris Wolfe, chief executive officer of logistics company PowerFleet.

Storms affect a state’s big industries, too. Along the Texas gulf coast, hurricanes can have an impact on the chemical and the oil and gas industries. A storm there could echo issues that arose from the Texas freeze in February and the six-day Colonial Pipeline shutdown that caused gas prices to surge and prompted some East Coast residents to panic-buy gas.

The forestry industry could be “deeply impacted” as well, Vandewege said. “There’s been shortage on building materials, and that could be enhanced even more if we’re seeing key manufacturing areas shut down around Louisiana and Alabama” because of a hurricane.

Pork, which is heavily produced in North Carolina and other southern states, has faced shortages in the past year, as well, thanks to the pandemic.

When hurricanes, like Florence in 2018, have struck the state in the past, thousands of hogs died. Other livestock and agriculture are also at risk when hurricanes hit.

“There’s huge pork production, chicken production, all the way through the South,” Wolfe said, so storms “could dirsupt food supplies.”

Porter from AccuWeather also noted that the West Coast could see another damaging wild fire season, and he said companies have to prepare ahead of time. “It’s a significant risk that all businesses need to be thinking about right now,” he said. “What’s their vulnerabilities and plan to mitigate.”

Climate change and extreme weather events topped the World Economic Forum’s list of biggest global risks in 2020. That was no surprise to Porter, who said, “people are getting negatively impacted almost on a daily basis by weather events. He said for businesses, the supply chain is a “major component” of that.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bubble tea drinkers could be out of luck as a shortage of boba and other products may make the sweet drink hard to find

bubble tea
Bubble tea. bebe14/Shutterstock

  • Bubble tea supplies are running low amid a shortage caused by backed-up US ports.
  • Tapioca pearls, popping bobas, and flavored powders and syrups are stuck in transit.
  • The products are the latest among many that have faced a shortage during the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Your favorite bubble tea shop may not be serving its signature drink for a while as shipping delays are keeping some retailers from getting the supplies to make the sweet beverage.

The shortage started about a month ago, according to Oliver Yoon, the vice president of sales and global marketing for Boba Direct, a Chicago-based nationwide supplier of bubble tea products.

US ports on the East and West Coasts have been overwhelmed for months as consumer spending has increased along with a bevy of logistical issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Boats, carrying tens of thousands of shipping containers, are waiting outside ports.

“It’s a perfect storm really,” Yoon said.

Bubble tea, which has exploded in popularity in recent years, is a Taiwanese milk tea drink with a variety of flavors that features chewy pearls of tapioca. Supply has been tightened for the last month, Yoon said, and it’s not likely to let up until the end of April at the earliest.

Bubble tea products like tapioca pearls, popping bobas, flavored powders and syrups, and disposables, are all stuck in a “huge bottleneck,” said Yoon.

But it’s not just bubble tea. “It’s pretty much any kind of consumer product,” Yoon said.

Starbucks franchises, for example, aren’t able to fulfill customer orders of the new oat milk drink offerings and baristas are even reporting shortages of cups and syrups. Fitness gear, roller skates, and furniture, among other products also have been hampered.

Read more: Apple’s reportedly delaying its next Macs and iPads thanks to a global parts shortage, and it’s a bad sign for the whole tech industry

One bubble tea shop owner named Alex Ou told The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported on the shortage, that some consumers won’t buy a drink if there’s no boba. “They’re literally here for the boba,” he told the publication.

But consumers just need to be patient, said Yoon. “This is temporary, not forever.”

For retailers selling bubble tea, they’re frustrated, too, said Yoon.

“I get it; they’re a small business, and they’re trying to survive. We’re all in the same situation – just trying to survive,” he said. “COVID really affected the situation with importing. No one anticipated what happened last year; it’s one of these domino effects later on in the future.”

Have you tried to order a food or drink item but were told it was sold out for the time being? Email the reporter of this article at ndailey@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A quick guide to HDMI cables, one of the most common ways of connecting our devices

hdmi cable
HDMI cables transfer digital data from one device to another and are commonly used tech accessories.

  • HDMI cables give users a singular streamlined way to transfer audio and video between dozens of different kinds of devices.
  • HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, which refers to a form of digital data transfer – a way to get an audiovisual signal from one device to another.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re trying to find a way to set up a new device with your TV, or share media in some other way besides casting, you’ve probably come across the term HDMI cable in your search.

You’ve also, however, probably come across the names of other cables, too – and cable combinations, device suggestions, different terms for different types of cables – overall, it can be a bit confusing to try to learn the definition of each acronym and remember the shape of their ports.

The HDMI cable is one of the most common and versatile cables out there, used for all kinds of things, from televisions to laptops to streaming devices and more. When first foraying into the world of tech accessories, this is one of the most essential ones to learn about.

GettyImages 838254868 (1)
The HDMI slot located in the back of a TV.

What to know about HDMI cables

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface. An HDMI cable is a single cable that is able to transmit audio and video from one device to another with one of these HDMI connections, rather than the two- to three-wire combos people needed before HDMI became more common.

Benefits of HDMI

HDMI was invented to create a new standard that would be useful across a number of devices, while also combining audio and visual input to make the wiring less complex for consumers. Before we had HDMI, people who wanted to hook up any kind of audiovisual equipment usually had to plug in two or three different wires in the right places in order to be able to properly display sound and picture.

These previous connections were also far less standardized – hooking up a Nintendo GameCube to your television was different than trying to hook up a DVD player, which was different than hooking up a digital camera. Having the singular, standard connection type has made it far simpler to navigate a world of increasingly complex technology.

That’s not the only reason that a new data transfer format became necessary, though. When HDTV came onto the scene in the mid-2000s, it became necessary to create a new standard that has the capacity to reliably transmit high-definition signals. HDMI transfers have more bandwidth and a higher refresh rate per second, which means that pictures and sound are much smoother and higher quality.

How to set up dual monitors in Windows 10 and boost your productivityWhat is USB-C? The latest and most powerful type of USB cable, explained‘Is Thunderbolt the same as USB-C?’: What you need to know about Thunderbolt 3’s high-speed connectivity, in relation to USB-C cablesWhat is an Ethernet cable? Here’s how to connect to the internet without Wi-Fi and get a speedier connection

Read the original article on Business Insider