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

19 May 2017
'Driver-centric' brokerage aims to unlock small-carrier capacity for freight shippers and give truck drivers a new pipeline of freight to tap.
10 Nov 2014
Dockworkers at Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma picked up their productivity a bit this weekend, but the situation turned bad in Oakland when members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked off their jobs for three consecutive shifts.
10 Nov 2014
Some shippers with sensitive cargo are diverting containers away from the U.S. West Coast to the port of Virginia, despite higher transportation costs, to avoid congestion and potential labor action.
trucks in LA-Long Beach
10 Nov 2014
Truck turn times at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex have increased more than 30 percent since last year, according to statistics provided by the Harbor Trucking Association to JOC.com, a result of crisis-level congestion.
Weekly wrap-up: 10 stories on US West Coast ports
08 Nov 2014
JOC.com readers are eating up news emerging from the U.S. West Coast, with all of the Top 10 stories on the site in the past week focusing on congestion and labor issues at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Tacoma and Seattle.
07 Nov 2014
The executive director of the Port of Los Angeles called upon the Pacific Maritime Association, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, terminal operators and PierPass Inc. to do everything within their power to clear out the congestion that is devastating the Southern California port complex.

Commentary

Leveraging technology and investment to focus on the niche of serving the needs of fast-moving cargo is a positive direction for the ports to pursue.

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