Terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach are extending gate hours and some will initiate appointment systems to keep the ports fluid during the peak shipping season.
Seven of the 13 container terminal operators have returned to five off-peak shifts each week, said Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass. Ten of the terminal operators reinstated continuous operations through the lunch hour and have expanded gate hours by adding back flex gates during periods of peak traffic.
Terminal operators have increased labor levels by 37 percent since the beginning of the year, Wargo said.
Terminal operators are taking these steps in response to complaints from harbor truckers and cargo interests about excessive wait times since cargo volumes surged earlier in the year.
By The Numbers: Containerized Ocean Trade - Southern California Ports.
Container volume in Los Angeles-Long Beach increased 16 percent in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to the Pacific Maritime Association.
When cargo volume dropped sharply in 2008 and much of 2009, terminal operators engaged in cost-cutting measures such as reducing the number of off-peak shifts under the PierPass extended gate program. Staffing levels were also cut.
A working group of 30 industry companies including importers, exporters, motor carriers, ports and marine terminal operators met recently to discuss strategies to improve productivity and reduce wait times at terminal gates.
In a statement released Tuesday by the terminal operators, Wargo said the working group is exploring a number of potential solutions. "Efficient cargo movement through the ports is a common objective of all stakeholders," he said.
Several terminal operators in late summer or early fall will roll out appointment systems designed to more evenly spread out container moves over the full hours of operation.
Further discussions will take place on the appointment system and other issues designed to improve productivity, Wargo said.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.