Mike McBreen, chief operating officer of Rad Power Bikes, relates the innovative solution that the company devised to get around severe port congestion and lack of equipment availability in its traditional supply chain.
Rad Power Bikes, a manufacturer of electric bicycles, was experiencing “hyper growth” at the same time it was running into severe constraints in its supply chain, in the form of heavy port congestion and lack of access to both ships and containers. The situation demanded a new way of thinking.
The company sources components and finished bikes in Taiwan, Thailand, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Its traditional entry point for shipments into the U.S. are the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. (Rotterdam serves the same purpose for Europe, and Vancouver, B.C. for Canada). With traffic at those container ports at a near-standstill, Rad Power Bikes turned instead to the Port of Everett, Washington, 29 miles north of Seattle. There, the shipper was able to make use of a breakbulk terminal with capacity for containerized cargoes, chartering a breakbulk ship with the ability to carry containers on deck. Finally, with the containers themselves almost impossible to obtain from regular sources, the company purchased a fleet of boxes outright.
Following delivery to distribution facilities in Washington State and Savannah, Georgia, Rad Power Bikes sold the containers, although it has had to acquire additional equipment for subsequent shipments. McBreen says it will both lease and purchase additional containers “on a situational basis.”
The workaround allowed the company to keep product flowing to market despite the congestion that has slowed other supply chains to a crawl. And while it intends to resume bringing product into the U.S. via Seattle and Tacoma when operations return to normal, it plans to supplement those shipments with the continued use of charters and breakbulk facilities at Everett.
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