After a season of disruptions at major East Coast and Northwest ports, opinions are flying about strategies to keep truck deliveries at the terminals moving quickly. We’ve produced a new video to help those concerned with container throughput issues to better understand the system as it exists today. The video walks viewers through a truck turn from the moment it enters the terminal with an empty container to the time it leaves the exit gate with a full load. (Our previous video explored truck queues outside the terminal gates.)
I encourage you to watch the video and share it with your constituents. The video is available by clicking on the image above or through this link
Compared to several other North American ports that have struggled in recent months with unusually bad weather, operational problems and labor disputes, conditions at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been much steadier. In-terminal turn time – the average amount of time a truck is inside a terminal to complete a single transaction – increased gradually from an average of 37.5 minutes during day shifts in February 2013 to 40.6 minutes in February 2014, a rise of about 8%.
Nonetheless, we believe changes underway with several links in the goods movement chain are likely to continue increasing turn times unless we revamp some long-established processes. These ongoing changes include the arrival of ever-larger ships, and the transition in how chassis are owned and managed.
The current random-access system – when any truck can show up at any time to pick up any container – hasn’t changed since containerization began in the early 1960’s. If we’re going to significantly change the results, we need to reevaluate how we deliver containers.
The terminal operators and other stakeholders are looking at a range of potential tools to maintain throughput velocity under these changing conditions. Possible delivery improvements under study include pre-staging containers for bulk delivery (also known as free flow), pre-entering truck and cargo information into terminal computer systems, and using cellphone lots and smartphone applications to better coordinate truck arrivals and shift traffic out of gate lines.
President and CEO, PierPass Inc.