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Port Report: APM’s New Jersey site aims for shorter truck queues

APM Terminals will open new truck gates at its New Jersey facility next year as part of a major capital project aimed at easing the congestion that many drivers experienced during the 2018 peak shipping season and boosting overall freight volumes.

Giovanni Antonuccio, manager of client services at APM’s Port Elizabeth terminal, said the new inbound gate complex is “90% done” and should be open at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Port Elizabeth previously had 10 inbound and 10 outbound lanes. The new gate complex will have 24 inbound lanes with 16 outbound lanes.

The gate complex sits on 15 acres of the Elizabeth marine terminal that had been used as a chassis depot. Those chassis operations have since been moved over to the Columbia Group-owned Elizabeth Chassis Depot. 

The truck gates at the Elizabeth marine terminal have been in place since 1968, Antonuccio said, and have not been able to keep up with the volumes currently going through the terminal. 

“The current antiquated gate is indeed a challenge for truckers at times,” Antonuccio said.
Truck fluidity was a problem for beneficial cargo owners during the winter of 2018 when drivers reported major delays at the terminal, resulting in long truck queues outside the terminal entrance.  


Turn times within the APM complex are about one hour or less, Antonuccio said. But the wait outside the gates added 30 minutes or more depending on the queue. Some dray carriers were reportedly tacking on congestion charges of up to $300 per container for moves at APM. 

APM, the terminal subsidiary of Maersk, undertook temporary measures to alleviate traffic, such as changing inbound lanes to outbound lanes in the afternoon. But the new gate complex is expected to cut turn times by 40%, Antonuccio said.

“We can service the trucks ultra-fast in the yard, but they are waiting too long at the gate because the old gate could not handle the throughput,” Antonuccio said.

The new gates will also fitted with the latest technology including optical character recognition for containers, weigh-in-motion scales, radio frequency identification, and closed circuit television.

The new technology means clerks at the gate will just have to verify container numbers instead of entering numbers manually. That’s a 50-second difference for each truck move, but with roughly 5,000 container moves daily, the time savings add up.

The new gate complex is part of a $200 million capital upgrade at APM Port Elizabeth. The company also added four ultra super-post panamax cranes, upgraded its terminal operating system to the Navis N4 terminal operating system, and upgraded its southern berth. 

Outside the capital projects, APM offers shippers peel-off piles and dedicated truck lanes for shippers needing quick access to their containers.

APM is also touting its quick access to rail via the ExpressRail service at Elizabeth. Antonuccio said the dwell time for intermodal rail is among the lowest in North America with containers moving within three hours from discharge to an intermodal well car.

“We want to prove to the community our capabilities,” Antonuccio said.

Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.

One Comment

  1. As a member of ILA local #1 and one of the many clerks who services the truck drivers. While we are waiting for the computer upgrades to take effect there are some things that drivers can do to help themselves at the inbound gates.

    1. I realize that we are in the customer service industry, even the though I am ILA, my local Local 1 of the ILA contracts me out. APMT hires me on the basis that I’m going to represent them as I do the ILA, honorably and respectively do the job contracted to APMT. I will treat the outside driver with courtesy and respect. I ask you do the same to us.
    2. We, the clerks are dealing with a bunch of different ethnic groups where English is a second language. Wether you are from a Latino, Asian, African, Eastern European or Caribbean speaking your best English will speed the process as well as decrease mistake that are made in verbal translation. When giving a container number or a booking number when saying letters please try using the Phonetic alphabet. This is what most militaries across the world use to avoid mistakes. For example instead of saying BSIU, You would say Bravo-Sierra-India-Utah. Because many of us have accents of our native languages this would eliminate mistakes. You can Google “Phonetic Alphabet” and find the easiest way to learn it.
    3. Have all your information ready before you pick up the phone.
    Sealink#, Container#, Genset# of you have a reefer, Booking# should all be written down before you pick up the phone. We don’t have good Cell service in some parts of the terminal so waiting for your Laptop, IPad or cellar phone to load with this information.
    4. What happened to you before you get to the phone on the outbound lanes has NOTHING to do with the clerk who is trying to process you out. We are ALL dealing with a New Computer System, you will get better results with a positive attitude rather than a bad one. I will say it again, what happened to you before you picked up the outbound phone has NOTHING To do with the clerk.
    5. This job is hard on all of us, don’t get upset at the ILA because you’re not ILA. I read to much negativity on social media about the ILA from truck drivers.
    6. SLOW DOWN inside the terminal!
    I want nothing more than to do my job to the best of my ability. Please know that! Sometimes truck drivers will go off, yelling at me with stuff like “You F$@^%ed me on purpose, you did this to screw me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Do you honestly think I wake up at 4:15am and say “Hey I am going to go to work today and mess with some truck drivers and mess their moves up on purpose”? I want you to come back, it ensures the survival of my local and the ILA which puts food on my table and a roof over my head. That is my #1 priority, doing my job correctly to get rehired and represent myself, mummy Union, The ILA and Local #1 to the best of my ability. For 20 years I have done so and hope to continue to do so for many more.