West Coast Ports

Productivity is the name of the game for West Coast ports leading up to the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015. Unlike many of the ports on the East and Gulf coasts that are deepening their harbors and enlarging their marine terminals to prepare for the mega-ships that will begin transiting the canal in 2015, the major West Coast gateways already have 50-foot harbors and terminals of 100 to more than 400 acres in size.

In order to prevent an erosion of market share to East Coast ports, the Seattle-Tacoma, Oakland and Los Angeles-Long Beach gateways must improve their efficiency in unloading vessels, moving containers through the yards and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

The 25 to 26 container moves per crane per hour that mark West Coast port operations must be increased to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

Offering a transit time advantage of a week to 10 days to the U.S. interior, and the potential for reducing per-slot vessel costs by hundreds of dollars with the arrival of vessels having a capacity of 13,000-TEU capacity, West Coast ports want to beat the canal by even further expanding their 70 percent market share of U.S. imports from Asia.

 

Special Coverage

US West Coast ports focus on operational improvements.

News & Analysis

27 Jul 2017
Portland will have a better idea of the types of container business it can attract back to the port by year-end.
28 Feb 2017
The Port of Portland on Monday took its first step toward restoring container service.
20 Feb 2017
US government has shown interest in Canada's method of monitoring and benchmark port productivity.
16 Feb 2017
The steady drip of market share continued last year.
28 Dec 2016
Plastic resin exports are poised in 2017 to begin a multi-year surge in volume.
19 Dec 2016
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are betting that a $6.6 billion investment and more dynamic operations fueled by technology will stem the bleeding of import market share to East Coast ports that are targeting even more Midwest cargo.

Commentary

Terminal consolidation on the US West Coast is happening even if it is not sending the tremors that the wave of carrier mergers and acquisitions has.