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.

 

News & Analysis

Protracted and difficult labor negotiations in late 2014 and early 2015 that resulted in costly congestion and delays on the U.S. West Coast has put labor relations at the top of shippers' minds.
28 Jul 2016
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union will call delegates to San Francisco to consider a vote on early contract talks.
25 Feb 2015
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., urged the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate the Pacific Maritime Association’s “unilateral” curtailing of night, weekends and holiday hiring of dockworkers during recent West Coast longshore contract negotiations.
25 Feb 2015
North American intermodal volumes plummeted as U.S. West Coast port congestion came to a head last week before union and waterfront officials at last brokered a deal Friday evening.
24 Feb 2015
Most West Coast ports were bustling with activity this week as marine terminals order full vessel, yard and gate work crews, and International Longshore and Warehouse Union dispatch halls are filling all of the orders.
Home Depot store in New Jersey
24 Feb 2015
Retailer Home Depot said its import shipments have been delayed by West Coast port delays, but that it has been able to adjust its supply chain to keep stores supplied.
Port of Los Angeles
23 Feb 2015
After months of bitter negotiations, and with a tentative waterfront contract that is barely three days old, Southern California political, labor and management leaders on Monday said they will focus now on returning the largest U.S. port complex to normal operations.

Commentary

The reaction of shippers to West Coast longshore labor disruption is evolving in such a way that West Coast ports have reason for concern.

Video

Don Snyder, Port of Long Beach's Director of Business Development, on the lasting impact of the 2015 labor upset at West Coast ports. Looking to 2016, Snyder says, many processes have been improved and investments made, and productivity gains are being seen already. In this interview, he explains the response to supply chain optimization needs and working with multiple partners to ensure smooth transfers.
Don Krusel, Prince Rupert Port Authority president/CEO, speaks about competitiveness, labor relations and plans for expansion.
Dr. Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director, Port of Long Beach, discusses port productivity and the impact of mega-ships, the role of infrastructure investment, and the need to emphasize system improvements to increase efficiency.