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

With the 2008-09 economic recession and the labor problems of 2014-15 behind them, West Coast ports see 2016 as the year they will return to their normal annual growth trend of about 5 percent.

News & Analysis

20 Feb 2017
US government has shown interest in Canada's method of monitoring and benchmark port productivity. 
06 May 2015
Port congestion and labor issues took a toll on West Coast port volumes in 2014, as West Coast ports lost market share and East Coast ports gained market share, according to a report by CBRE Americas Research.
05 May 2015
There’s a silver lining in every sky-high stack of containers — if you’re an expedited trucking company. For carriers that move goods quickly by any and all means possible, the container logjam that built up during the West Coast port labor dispute was simply a bonanza.
04 May 2015
Noting what could be the “new normal” at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Marine Exchange of Southern California said Monday there were no container ships at anchor, and none are expected to stop at anchor on Tuesday, either.
04 May 2015
Seattle and Tacoma took a big hit in the first quarter as its market share among Canadian Pacific Northwest ports took a dive amid longshore labor disruption.
01 May 2015
Delays in processing high volumes of containers at West Coast warehouses and DCs point to the need for better packing and loading of containers in Asia, a trucking executive says.

Commentary

Amid problems of port congestion and inefficiency at US ports, and the structural difficulties of changing well-established practices in the face of shipping overcapacity, are bright rays of light that indicate progress is possible even under adverse conditions.

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