Computer system hampering East Coast shipping

Aug. 5, 2013 at 7:13 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Computer problems have delayed shipping at major ports in New York and New Jersey, port operator Maher Terminals and technology firm Navis have acknowledged.

In a joint statement, the two companies said that "real-time interactions between the various system components deployed in the container yard were not operating as designed."

"There's no word for it other than 'hell.' I've been in business thirtysome-odd years, and this is the most stressful time I've had," said Jeff Bader, a trucking-company owner, who is also the president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, which represents truckers who do business with the ports of New York City and Elizabeth, N.J., where delays began in June, when a new computer system was put on line.

"The system wasn't speaking to itself," said John Nardi, president of the New York Shipping Association, a trade group representing terminal operators.

Navis is a division of Cargotec Corp., a Finnish company.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the new computer system was intended to help keep track of containers at the ports. But thousands of shipping containers that hold millions of dollars of goods bound for stores have been delayed or stuck at ports since it was installed.

Some of the goods should have been included in seasonal retail promotions, including back-to-school sales. Other stores hoping to get an early start on holiday season sales could also be affected, the Journal said.

Last week, Matthew Shay, the president of the National Retail Federation, requested help from the New York Shipping Association and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He said one clothing retailer was waiting for $8 million worth of seasonal merchandise which was stuck at the port.

Retailers were also having to pay trucking companies fees because of the delays, Shay said.

In a recent statement, the companies said the system had "turned the corner ... as services have returned to acceptable levels during the past several weeks, albeit at reduced volume."

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