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

10 Mar 2017
A shortage of ocean containers may spell transloading opportunity for US trucking companies.
11 May 2015
Vessel, yard and gate operations at West Coast ports are not yet back to normal after almost seven months of crippling congestion, but the ports and port users are confident that “normal’ will happen by the end of May.
Alameda Corridor
08 May 2015
The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority had a good year in 2014 in terms of the number of containers it handled and the revenue it generated, but if ACTA is going to stay on track for debt servicing, container volume moving through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach must get back to 5 percent annual growth.
containers at Port of Oakland
08 May 2015
Containerized imports through major U.S. port gateways hit record levels in March as West Coast ports disgorged shipments that backed up during weeks of gridlock, according to the latest Global Port Tracker report.
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.

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.