Consolidated Chassis Management says taking over management of its six regional chassis pools is a way to cut costs and prepare for changes in a rapidly evolving business.
CCM, a subsidiary of the 20-member Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, plans to take over management of its six regional chassis pools. It also will allow shippers and motor carriers to join ocean carriers in supplying the pools with intermodal equipment.
“In general, these changes reflect an effort by CCM to provide more flexibility and open the pools to accommodate whatever changes may occur over the next couple of years,” said Jeffrey Lawrence, executive director of OCEMA.
Chassis management is in flux in the U.S., the only major nation where most chassis are supplied by ocean carriers. In the rest of the world, truckers and cargo interests provide chassis.
During the last two years, numerous carriers have quit providing free chassis in selected markets and transferred their equipment to leasing companies. Other carriers continue to provide chassis as they have traditionally done.
CCM asked the Federal Maritime Commission to allow the group to amend its cooperative agreement so the OCEMA subsidiary can manage its pools directly. If the FMC does not object, the amendment will take effect in mid-September, clearing the way for changes in the months to follow.
In managing the pools, CCM said it would use information technology it has developed over the past two years and already employs for pools in the Midwest and Denver regions. CCM’s other chassis pools cover Chicago and the Ohio Valley, the Gulf Coast, the mid-South and the South Atlantic.
CCM’s six pools have a total of about 130,000 chassis supplied by ocean carriers. Lawrence said motor carriers and shippers have asked to be able to supply chassis to the pools to ensure their continued access to equipment.
Operating its pools directly will allow CCM to eliminate a layer of management, Lawrence said. “The hope is that it will allow more efficient operation of the pools and help them control costs,” he said. CCM’s staff will increase from the current eight to about 100.
Third-party operators of CCM pools include equipment lessors Flexi-Van and Trac Intermodal, which also provide chassis through leases and daily rentals, and as operators of other pools.
Maersk pioneered daily rental of chassis to truckers when it set up Direct ChassisLink Inc. in 2009. DCLI was followed by Trac and Flexi-Van. After initial skepticism, truckers appear to have embraced the change to daily rentals that allow them to make multiple trips for a single rate.
Trac is tweaking its daily rental program, Trac Connect, by packaging routine damage repairs into a $15.50 daily fee. The damage-waiver program, Trac Access, was launched in June in Philadelphia. It will be expanded Sept. 1 to New York-New Jersey and Baltimore and taken nationwide by year-end.
Under the program, Trac handles all repairs for chassis rented by truckers under the company’s interchange agreement. Trac said the arrangement would free truckers from having to deal with repair invoices and ensure that repair work and parts comply with the company’s standards.
Trac also hopes the program will encourage drivers to be more forthcoming about problems with chassis. Many drivers returning equipment to drop-off points are reluctant to report damage for which they may be charged.
Company officials said the arrangement would simplify life for truckers while improving equipment quality and availability.
New York-New Jersey drayage operators have complained in recent weeks about shortages of roadworthy chassis in New York-New Jersey, where Trac’s Metro pool manages about 30,000 units.
Truckers say ocean carriers have supplied the Metro pool with old equipment in need of repair, and that International Longshoremen’s Association mechanics at the port have been unable to keep up. Chassis with red tags signifying they’ve failed mechanical inspection have piled up at several terminals around the port.