Jonathan Daniels, Acting CEO and Port Director, Port Everglades
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Jonathan Daniels, Acting CEO and Port Director, Port Everglades

America’s ports handle more US–international cargo than any other type of transportation — to the tune of nearly 1.5 billion tons, according to the US Department of Transportation’s annual report on port performance. When it comes to managing container flow, a layered and strategic approach can vastly reduce kinks in the network. 

It starts with access to real-time information tracking and measuring traffic as it moves through a port. Properly positioned cameras that drivers and dispatchers can readily access allows for instant congestion monitoring of roadways. 
The next layer is an appointment system to ensure that truck volumes match servicing capacity and carrier availability. 

Another essential layer occurs with new lifting technology, which helps increase efficiency at access points with densification and utilizing proper yard equipment to maximize stacking capacity. 

Once productivity at the dock is combined with the efficiencies gained in the yard, the final layer to operational excellence is an integrated internal and external transportation network that includes, but is not limited to, on-dock or near-dock rail with an efficient roadway system.

In addition to on-port operations, a key strategy includes using centrally located off-port complexes to further ease congestion in the terminals and on the docks by moving containers to land that is less expensive than waterfront ports without sacrificing access. This strategy works best for ports primarily dealing with gateway cargo that is headed to America’s heartland versus ports that largely handle consumption-zone cargo.

It’s vital that we continue to work hand-in-hand with transportation leaders to ensure ports are negating the hurdles on highways and railways that impede cargo flow from one mode to another. 

At the end of the day, ports should have resource management plans that are nimble to respond to evolutions in various markets and trade lanes.