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.
09 Jan 2015
Drayage drivers at Shippers Transport Express, a subsidiary of SSA Marine, on Friday chose to make Teamsters Local 848 in Southern California their exclusive bargaining representative, making Shippers Transport the second trucking company at Los Angeles-Long Beach after Toll to be represented by the trucker union.
BNSF container train
07 Jan 2015
BNSF Railway is lifting its embargo on interchanging westbound ocean containers headed to U.S. West Coast on-dock facilities two days after the railroad implemented the ban.
06 Jan 2015
After months of appeals from industry groups, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service this week became involved in West Coast contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. Here’s a guide to the FMCS and its role in collective bargaining.
05 Jan 2015
In a major breakthrough, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Monday agreed to federal mediation to resolve contract negotiations that are now in their eighth month.
05 Jan 2015
Contract negotiations resumed today between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association after the holiday recess, but it appears that no significant progress will be made until both parties agree to compromise on the controversial issue of chassis maintenance and repair.

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.

More Commentary

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.