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American Shipper

LA/Long Beach ports sees truck turn times speed up

PierPass, which was created by marine terminal operators in Los Angeles and Long Beach to address multi-terminal issues, noted Q2 truck turn times at both ports were faster than any other quarter during the past two years.

   Truck turn times at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach during the second quarter were faster than any other quarter during the past two years, PierPass said.
   “In both May and June, turn times fell below 40 minutes during the Peak shift and below 45 minutes during the OffPeak shift for the first time since the second quarter of 2014,” said PierPass, a not-for-profit organization that administers the OffPeak program for 13 container terminals in the region who are members of the West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Association.
   The turn time is a measure of how long it takes a truck to drop off or pick up a container at a marine terminal. The average turn times for the full quarter 40.8 minutes (Peak) and 43.0 minutes (OffPeak), down from 55.3 minutes (Peak) and 58.4 minutes (OffPeak) during the fourth quarter of 2014. It said the measures are based on monthly data reported by marine terminals and compiled by PierPass Inc. The time is based on the time the trucks enter and leave the terminal and is calculated from the RFID tags that all trucks operating in the two ports must have to enter terminals.
   The Harbor Trucking Association, which represents drayage companies in the port, agrees that waiting times have fallen, but gives higher turn times  than PierPass. HTA measures both the time that truckers spend in queue before they get into the terminal as well as the time they actually spend in the terminal. Cushing also notes that the HTA only measures a sample of drivers, where as Pier Pass measures the time for every driver.
   The HTA figures show that in June an average queue time of 19 minutes at terminal and 64 minutes in terminal for an average total visit time of 83 minutes and a median queue time of 11 minutes and median in terminal time of 46 minutes for a median total visit time of 67 minutes.
   “The in terminal time, though it has gotten much better, is not in 40 minute range,” said Weston LaBar, the executive director of the HTA.
   HTA said in June 44.3 percent of moves took less than hour, 35.7 percent between one and two hours and 20.1 percent more than two hours.
   “Some terminals have done better because of increased efficiency,” he said, while turn times have improved at others because they are handling less cargo and are able to serve trucks faster. He said other terminals are having challenges improving times.
   PierPass said that terminals “have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new automation technology and other infrastructure. They have also implemented new procedures to address challenges presented by the arrival of much larger new ships, the spread of vessel-sharing agreements and the transition of chassis ownership from shipping lines to leasing companies. Terminals have also increased their coordination with trucking companies to extend the use of free-flow or peel-off procedures for rapid delivery of large groups of containers.”
   “It also said that seven of the 13 terminals have moved to adopt appointment systems, to better spread cargo movement over the hours of operation and coordinate which areas of the yard are being worked to enable more efficient use of container-moving equipment.
   “As of July 2016, seven of the 13 terminals are using appointment systems, and John Cushing, the president of PierPass said at one or two more are expected to create an appointment system by the end of the year.
   LaBar said the HTA has also been a proponent of reservation systems “if done the right way” but that some systems “leave something to be desired.”
   HTA says that reservations should indicate when a container will be discharged from a vessel so that reservations can be made before cargo is discharged from a ship and the trucker and his customer can take advantage of the full four days of free time that containers have at a terminal.

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