• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.795
    -0.005
    -0.3%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.738
    0.070
    4.2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.102
    0.028
    2.6%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.495
    -0.012
    -0.8%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.835
    0.053
    6.8%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.975
    0.049
    5.3%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.250
    0.072
    3.3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.503
    0.038
    2.6%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.448
    0.036
    2.5%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.299
    0.009
    0.7%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.542
    0.062
    4.2%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,149.240
    -70.640
    -0.7%
  • OTRI.USA
    3.780
    -0.080
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,139.180
    -75.530
    -0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.500
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    151.000
    5.000
    3.4%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.795
    -0.005
    -0.3%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.738
    0.070
    4.2%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.102
    0.028
    2.6%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.495
    -0.012
    -0.8%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.835
    0.053
    6.8%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.975
    0.049
    5.3%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.250
    0.072
    3.3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.503
    0.038
    2.6%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.448
    0.036
    2.5%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.299
    0.009
    0.7%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.542
    0.062
    4.2%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,149.240
    -70.640
    -0.7%
  • OTRI.USA
    3.780
    -0.080
    -2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,139.180
    -75.530
    -0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.500
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    151.000
    5.000
    3.4%
American Shipper

SoCal ports dealing with ‘chassis dislocation’

Truckers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach often are required to bring empty containers to a terminal different from the one where they were picked up.

   Shippers and truckers in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are increasingly being told to return empty containers to terminals that are different from where they picked up an import load and are also having to contend with shortages of chassis at some facilities.
   Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director and chief operating officer at the Port of Long Beach, said over half of all empty containers are directed by the ocean carriers to be returned to a terminal different from where it was picked up.
   “That has downstream effects on the chassis,” he explained, since truckers often leave the chassis attached to the empty container they have returned rather than continue to pay for an extra day’s lease of a chassis.
   Hacegaba said the problems have been caused by a number of factors including:
     • The earlier-than-usual peak season this year, as shippers sought to bring imports into the U.S. before the 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods went into effect in late September;
     • Changes to transpacific vessel services;
     • And the use of “extra loaders” and even vessel bunching caused by bad weather (fog at ports) earlier this year in Asia.
   “The marine terminals, the railroads, the trucking companies – they all plan their equipment around the vessel call schedules,” Hacegaba said. “When those change either through consolidation of vessel service or through a blank sailing, or through additional loaders, that has a tendency to disrupt the entire system, and I think that is probably what we have seen in recent months.”
   Hacegaba said the Port of Long Beach held a meeting last week to
learn more about the reported chassis shortages and to discuss ways to
improve availability and fluidity. Chassis shortages are not
universal, he said, and there are varying degrees of effects on
terminals and different conditions on different days.
   “Contributing factors include chassis dislocations, out of service units and overall fleet size,” he said. “Of
course, peak volumes are also putting a strain on the system. We will
continue to engage all port stakeholders and work with them to keep the
supply chain moving.”
   “What’s happening more and more is the ocean carriers are making decisions solely based on getting their ships turned very quickly,” says Weston LaBar, the chief executive officer of the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents drayage companies.
   LaBar said truckers are finding empty returns are being cut off in the middle of shifts, which he said is a violation of the Uniform Intermodal Interchange Agreement (UIIA) and a California state law, SB45.
   “The other big issue is that truckers who try to do a dual transaction (that is, return an empty container and pick-up an empty container) are taking a risk in many cases because if the empty gets cut off mid-shift, they are in jeopardy of missing their appointments,” he said. “This is driving down trucker productivity.”
   The Pool of Pools (PoP) — the joint chassis pool formed by FlexiVan, Direct ChassisLink and TRAC Intermodal in Southern California — says that in September, 54.7 percent of containers were returned to a different terminal than where they originated.
   “The impact is imbalance of chassis and forces repositioning, increases demand on drayage providers, creates delays in meeting the demands of terminals, and negatively impacts the environment. ‘Chassis dislocation’ and equipment imbalance is an ever increasing problem within the ports of LA and LB,” said PoP.
   In September, 12,076 chassis were required to be relocated to terminals as requested by terminal operators. In the first nine months of the year, over 110,000 chassis have been relocated.
   “Annually, the costs total approximately $13 million just for the drayage alone,” PoP said. “Add to this the management expense, cost of idled asset days, and operational expenses incurred by all stakeholders.”
   PoP also said the need to reposition chassis delays supplying terminals that are in immediate need of chassis, creates inefficiency and spot chassis shortages, and creates an increased demand on draymen who are busy relocating chassis rather than moving import and export loads to and from the container terminals. It also creates additional traffic congestion and air pollution.
   PoP said ocean carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) “need to play a role in the solution. While the burden of correcting the dislocation and imbalance is ultimately the responsibility of the PoP as pool manager, the impact to entire pool and complex, and ultimately the MTO and ocean carrier operational efficiencies, are adverse enough that they should help in working towards a solution for better management of container matchback.”
   “While we see on occasion some spot shortages, I think the intermodal equipment providers, the liner companies and the terminals have all worked around the clock to make sure that we have chassis wheels for our customer’s containers,” said Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
   “What I’d like to do is move the chassis off the marine terminals to a central location in the Port of Los Angeles,” Seroka said. “We’ve been having dialogue around that now for a little bit of time and I’m ready to move on it.”
   Seroka also said the off-dock location for chassis storage in the Port of Los Angeles could be a single location or consist of a couple of satellite facilities, but said Long Beach would have to have a separate location because there is not enough space in the Port of Los Angeles for both ports.
   Additionally, he said that in the Port of Los Angeles alone, between 50 and 80 acres of marine terminal is used for chassis storage. “If we can get all those chassis off to a neutral piece of property that gives the marine terminals more acreage to operate, and it expands their capacity seemingly overnight,” he said.
   An off-terminal location would “give us a great line of sight as to where the inventory levels are at all times, and the ability to get in and out of gates quickly. We’ll have the longshore groups, especially the mechanics, working on these chassis every day and they’ll have the ability to be part of this conversation as well,” he said. “That’s very important because we want the chassis to move in and out of the terminals from a road-ability perspective as swiftly as possible.”
   PoP said that in August, there were 5,584 out-of-service chassis on terminals.
   Seroka said the issue is an important one because of growing container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles. He noted that the port has had volumes exceeding 800,000 TEUs in the past three months. He said, “This coming month, I think we’re going to exceed 900,000 TEUs, and we may have a shot close to our all-time record that we just set last year (when the port handled 924,226 TEUs in November 2017).”
   With tariffs on $200 million of Chinese goods poised to increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1, some analysts are predicting there could be an end of the year peak season as businesses seek to bring goods into the U.S. and clear customs before the higher rate goes into effect.

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