AJOT: How did the supply chain disruptions, particularly with the terminals and ports, impact the chassis business?
Mike Wilson: A chassis is made to roll. If the chassis is not moving with a box on it, it’s interrupting the fluidity of the supply chain. With the problems, we had essentially with cargo being either out of sequence or out of season and filling up the warehouses, containers full of cargo had been sitting on chassis in storage yards all over the country. And as a result, the chassis is being absorbed. The normal chassis that would be rolling is now sitting. And we’ve gone from a metrics base of about seven or eight days per chassis turn on the street to chassis turns in some locations over 30 days. But on average, we’re doing about 18 days. It’s nearly three times as long as the normal chassis turn would normally be.
AJOT: Has there been any improvement with the supply chain returning to a new version of “normal.”
Mike Wilson: Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in the turns. We have seen some breaks in cargo blockages and some in the DCs and warehouses. And we are starting to see improved turn times with more chassis coming back into the terminals. I think this is the beginning of an improvement that we’ll see over the next several quarters.
AJOT: This was a very different “Peak Season” then we’ve experienced pre-pandemic. I think many thought it would be far more robust coming out of COVID. What happened?
Mike Wilson: I think Peak Season was a non-issue, a non-factor this year.
The system was front-loaded with cargo from orders made ahead of anticipated inflation. So, you have a lot of cargo in the pipeline now, and it flattened the traditional peak season. So, if the cargo in the warehouses can move now, then that will certainly make a difference. There’s probably a lot of cargo blocking the warehouses. It’s going to be a challenge to get that out of the way so that the holiday freight can move, and we can unload the containers that are sitting at warehouses waiting to be unloaded.
AJOT: How did the concept of the chassis pool evolve?
Mike Wilson: I think the underlying principle of chassis fleet operations as far as running an efficient, fluid operation is interoperability. If a chassis is going to operate with high velocity, you have to be able to use any chassis under any box coming in and out of the terminals. You have to be able to pick it up and drop it off at any node in the network. And that’s where the great value of an interoperable pool comes into play.
Any chassis can go under any box, and it can be used at any node in the network, whether it’s in Savannah, or Charleston or wherever. That creates more fluidity for the motor carriers. They’re not having to pick up and drop off chassis in between load moves.…