Commentary

Shippers should thoroughly vet their current carrier’s logging platforms, and if they aren’t utilizing electronic logging devices or plan to, create a transition plan. Carriers suggesting ELDs are a negative should be a red flag.
When Ghana’s Transport Minister Franklin Fiavi Fifi Kwetey took to the podium at a recent international ports and supply chain conference in the country’s capital of Accra he was forced to preface his speech with an apology. The lights in the five-star venue were misbehaving badly and the windowless room was plunged into darkness every few minutes, forcing speakers to read notes using a small torch attached to the podium.
When the 3,351-TEU container ship Rena grounded off New Zealand in 2011, the cargo losses totaled $1 billion, and the salvage operation took seven months. The loss pales in comparison to what’s at stake as the latest generation of container ships approach 20,000 20-foot-equivalent units.
Nothing short of an extension to the existing West Coast labor agreement, without the disruptions of 2014-15, will be sufficient to earn back the trust of shippers. But how serious is the ILWU in achieving that? We’ll find out soon.
Though shippers can file notice of a loss-and-damage claim within the nine-month time limit prescribed by statute, with determination of damages to come, it’s important to remember there is another time clock to consider. You have two years and a day from the date of the carrier’s initial offer of settlement to file suit if you can’t later reach agreement.
Accelerating economic growth across the U.S. depends on the ability of our rail system to meet current and future shipping demands. As our nation’s economy has grown in recent years, our rail system must strive to keep pace. 


Port metrics and key performance indicators are popular topics often discussed in Washington D.C. and by local port authorities, but while metrics and KPI’s are good goals, they come with a cautionary note.
One of the major takeaways from this year’s TPM Conference in Long Beach was that global supply chain volatility and uncertainty continue to pressure beneficial cargo owners to demand best practices from their freight transportation stakeholders. The operating models at a majority of container ports don’t provide a sustainable strategy to meet these critical demands. It’s time for ports to consider implementing best practices.
Duluth has developed a solid business in heavy-lift and project cargo at the western end of Lake Superior, 2,340 miles from the Atlantic. This fall, the port will open 28 acres of additional open storage and a new dock that will handle loads of 2,000 pounds per square foot.
The extent to which beneficial cargo owners are controlling the discussion in trans-Pacific contract negotiations is becoming more evident, and that leverage is greater now than at any time since the 2008-09 recession.
As with similar matters involving revenue, costs and other things that affect the bottom line, ocean carriers are their own worst enemies at times. Unfortunately for the carriers, it’s one of those times.
For the first 10 weeks of 2016, North American Class I railroads originated 3.3 million carloads of freight (excluding intermodal). That’s 427,000 fewer carloads than the same period last year, or a decline of more than 11 percent.
With the industry just just more than three months away from the July 1 implementation date of the new container weight verification rule under the Safety of Life at Sea convention, fears of disruptions have abated somewhat. The industry seems to have come a long way from last fall when panic-stricken shippers, carriers and forwarders wondered how a new type of rule applied to container shipping would have any hope of being implemented without disrupting trade.
The intermodal industry finds itself in a perfect microeconomic storm. Energy is a primary driver. The price of diesel has dropped by approximately one-third in the past year, greatly reducing intermodal’s secular price advantage over truck.