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

Ships at berth at the Port of Long Beach, such as the one pictured, are able to plug into shore-supplied power, which is known as cold-ironing, as part of the port's pollution reduction efforts.
25 Aug 2016
The congestion that crippled West Coast ports in 2015 temporarily derailed the progress in reducing pollution at the Port of Long Beach.
23 Jan 2015
The Pacific Maritime Association on Friday released detailed accounts of the dramatic drop in longshore productivity at West Coast ports that began in late October and continues to contribute to stifling port congestion.
22 Jan 2015
Construction began this week on a rail link that will connect a 360-acre logistics hub being built at a former Army base at the Port of Oakland with Union Pacific’s main line.
Crane operator at the port of Los Angeles
21 Jan 2015
Congestion at West Coast ports is the worst it has been since longshoremen began hard-timing employers in early November, and conditions are expected to worsen as terminal operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union use manning issues to see how much pain they can inflict on each other.
Port of Los Angeles
21 Jan 2015
Terminal gridlock and persistent labor issues caught up with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in December as the container volume at the busiest U.S. port complex declined 1 percent compared to December 2013.
16 Jan 2015
A growing number of trade associations that have signed their names to a series of letters calling for a resolution to West Coast longshore talks points to the widening economic impact of port delays that have now lasted for months.

Commentary

It’s a fundamental principle of our free market system: payment for services.

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.