Yesterday I spoke at the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission hearing about the proactive measures the terminal operators are taking to address congestion at the gates. There were a lot of trucking interests represented who had a lot to say about turn times and terminal operations.
Fred Johring, president of Harbor Trucking Association , noted: “The driver base and how the drivers work in the harbor has evolved… What we’ve got now, whether they’re employees or owner operators, they’re driving new trucks. They’re driving a much more expensive asset than they’ve ever had in their hands before. So whether they’re employees or owner operators, they want to work the maximum time they can… What I’ve seen with my fleet, is at least 50 percent of the driver’s time in his work day is spent waiting for loads in the harbor. While I heard the turn time inside the terminal is 45 minutes, the reality is these guys are waiting more than half the time of their work day.”
Tom Villardi, owner of JMKC Express, said: “The BCO controls a lot of what’s happening. If the BCO would allow the container to be picked up 24 hours after the container actually clears customs and is ready for pickup, then the appointment system would be simplistic. You have 24 hours to make the appointment, the trucker would know when the appointment is, the terminal would know when the cargo needs to be discharged and ready to go. There are a lot of systems we could put into play that could make this more efficient.”
I know truckers spent a lot of money to upgrade to clean trucks – about $100,00 for each new clean truck – and there’s a lot of pressure to increase turns to help pay for it. We all want the same thing. Efficient cargo movement is good for everyone in the industry, and that’s why we’re taking steps to keep the cargo flowing. MTOs have been adding back the noon hour relief and flex gates to process trucks at the gates as quickly as possible. Over the past several years, we’ve introduced a number of solutions (such as OffPeak gates and RFID tags) to keep trucks – and cargo – moving as quickly as possible.
At the POLB meeting, the suggestion came up to form a working group to gather feedback from the industry and to help identify potential solutions. I think that’s a great idea and look forward to hearing ideas from a variety of industry participants.