4 Takeaways from the 2023 Northwest Seaport Alliance Peak Planning Meeting

GSC Logistics ∕ May

Recently, GSC attended The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s (NWSA) annual Peak Planning Meeting in Seattle. Attendees from different parts of the supply chain gathered at the first such meeting since 2019 to collaborate and learn from one another, and to share new ideas and solutions for an improved experience for everyone doing business in the Pacific Northwest. The meeting facilitated a lively discussion about the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, which together are the fifth largest cargo gateway in the U.S. by container volume. 

The discussions ranged from forecast planning to updates provided by marine terminal operators, an ocean carrier representative, a trucker panel and of course, exporters and importers. GSC was excited to have President, David Arsenault, participate on the trucking panel discussion.  

NWSA Trucking Panel-2Image Courtesy of The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA)

Here are four key takeaways from the meeting:  

  1. Import volumes are down. It’s no surprise to anyone in the industry that we’ve seen a drop in import volumes compared to the surges we saw during the pandemic. However, the consensus is volumes are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels and we’re beginning to see an uptick in imports and exports across the board. 
  2. Partnerships were tested. The record-high volumes we witnessed over the past few years played only one part of the equation. There were labor shortages, more complex operations and slowdowns that caused the entire supply chain’s partnerships to undergo a stress test. We’ve learned a lot from this period and can apply that knowledge to future operations. Many companies in attendance highlighted the need to remain nimble and pivot operating models in response to supply chain disruptions. 
  3. Transparency with data. Facing more complex operations, as an industry we quickly learned about the need for transparency with a single source of data, a repository for historical terminal and steamship line data, and the need for increased communication.  
  4. Infrastructure Investments for a Better Operational Future. WSDOT is in the process of completing state routes 167 and 509, which will connect to I5 and will increase capacity to and from the ports. Additionally, two additional marine terminals are anticipated to open later in 2023, Terminal 7 in Tacoma and Terminal 46 in Seattle. Both marine terminals will bring in smaller, niche ocean carrier services. Finally, there are also improvement projects taking place in both ports that will allow for larger vessel callings and increased container throughput.  

NWSA Trucking Panel-1Image Courtesy of The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA)

Overall, it was an exciting meeting with robust conversation around the many improvements coming to the NWSA Gateway and what’s needed for a better future together.  Learn more about GSC’s services in the Pacific Northwest.

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