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

30 Sep 2017
Cargo-handling resumed and truck gates reopened at one of the largest container terminals in Southern California at the height of the peak-shipping season.
28 Sep 2017
ILWU Local 63 in Southern California shuts down APL terminal as it negotiates contract for newly organized superintendents.
02 Sep 2017
The SSA-run Oakland International Container Terminal, which now handles 75 percent of the cargo at the port, showcases how Oakland has emerged after four years of painful transition.
27 Jul 2017
Portland will have a better idea of the types of container business it can attract back to the port by year-end.
17 Jun 2017
At a time when the Southern California Ports' hold on discretionary cargo is tenuous, the state's all-out commitment to mitigating climate change is taking priority over port competitiveness.
19 May 2017
'Driver-centric' brokerage aims to unlock small-carrier capacity for freight shippers and give truck drivers a new pipeline of freight to tap.

Commentary

Oakland effectively crossed the chasm between the old and new industries, putting it at the vanguard of a transition on the West Coast that will likely see terminal consolidation at Los Angeles-Long Beach, which has 13 terminals across the two ports, and perhaps further consolidation in the Pacific Northwest.  

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