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.