New Articles

WHERE TO FIND THE NATURAL RESOURCES THAT ARE FEEDING U.S. BUSINESSES

resources

WHERE TO FIND THE NATURAL RESOURCES THAT ARE FEEDING U.S. BUSINESSES

Manufacturers operate complex supply chains that, in many cases, involve the movement of raw materials and resources from different parts of the world into their factories. 

It is an ever-moving puzzle. Indeed, manufacturing firms are often at the mercy of a range of factors outside of their control that can lead to disruptions, difficulties and, in extreme circumstances, halts in production. 

A timely reminder of this came in March when a 400-meter-long container vessel, the Ever Given, ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the waterway that is responsible for the safe passage of billions of dollars’ worth of goods and materials every year. Around 12% of global trade, including 1 million barrels of oil and 8% of liquefied natural gas, passes through the canal each day.


 

The blockage, caused by high winds, took six days to unjam and even took a human life in the process. Hundreds of other vessels were also delayed, a pile up which is thought to have consisted of almost $10 billion of goods.  

Meanwhile, as well as relying on the safe passage of goods from around the world, manufacturers are also having to take sustainability issues more seriously than ever before. 

In November, world leaders, including President Joe Biden, gathered in the U.K. for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26. Here, several key pledges were made to help move the world toward carbon neutrality, and there is no doubt that private sector organizations will have to play their parts in helping societies to successfully transition. In many cases, this could mean reassessing supply chains and the origin of key materials.  

Indeed, what if such materials were able to be sourced closer to home? 

There are various studies pointing toward consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for more sustainable products. IBM, for example, found that 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce negative environmental impacts, with 70% saying they would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands which are sustainable. Cheaper sourcing from abroad, it seems, could be compensated by customers who are willing to pay more for home-grown products. 

And the U.S. is home to an abundance of natural resources that are already supporting key manufacturing endeavors. Here, we explore just a few examples across states that can offer certain nearby manufacturers a competitive advantage.  

FORESTRY 

The U.S. is home to some vast areas of woodland that support key industries reliant on this versatile raw material. 

Globally, demand for wood-based products is steady. Indeed, the wood manufacturing market is projected to reach $502 billion in value by 2027, up from $442 billion in 2020–growing at a compound annual growth rate of 1.8% during the period. 

In America, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the forest products industry is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 48 states. In terms of finances, this activity generates more than $200 billion a year in sales and pays about $54 billion in wages. 

The total amount of land covered by forests in the country is estimated to be around 750 million acres, with Alaska by far the most forested state. Oregon and California follow in second and third respectively. 

Several key industries are supported by this abundance of wood resources, including paper and pulp, furniture and construction. Moreover, around two thirds of American forested land is timberland, which is capable of producing industrially utilized wood. 

AGRICULTURE  

States home to a thriving agricultural scene could provide homegrown advantages to all manner of businesses, especially those operating in the food production supply chain. 

While there are many factors which determine the attractiveness of an area in regard to farming, soil quality is arguably the most important. 

In the U.S., mollisols are widely recognized to be the best growing soils due to a range of properties–namely, they are extremely fertile and of neutral pH. 

Resultantly, they constitute a large part of the country’s Wheat Belt and the wheat-growing area of Palouse in eastern Washington, with Illinois and Iowa also home to this favorable farming soil. 

Vermont is another state recognized for its high soil quality. While home to a variety, its official state soil is Tunbridge, which is described as “loamy and acidic” in nature. The state equally ranks highly across several factors such as farming infrastructure and investment. 

Agriculture also thrives in Nebraska. Here, the official state soil is Holdrege, which facilitates high yields because of its natural fertility and excellent moisture retention capacity. This translates into financials, with Nebraska’s corn yields being the third largest in the U.S. and worth $6.3 billion in 2018. 

California, however, is by far the country’s most prolific agricultural state. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, California is responsible for 13.5% of all agricultural revenue in America. 

In 2020, the state recorded receipts of more than $49 billion across all agricultural commodities, nearly double that of Iowa ($26.2 billion) and 2.5 times the value of agricultural activity in Texas ($20.2 billion). 

There are many reasons why California is so well suited to growing crops. Not only is the western state home to some extremely fertile soil, but its climatic conditions also ensure the most is made of the quality of the land. It is the leading producer of a range of commodities, including wheat, lemons, oranges, grapes and avocados, and is among the most prolific grower of commonly consumed vegetables such as onions, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Indeed, California produces more than 200 varieties of crops, with some being exclusive to the territory. 

This translates into an enticing prospect for businesses which rely on or work with a vast array of farmed ingredients. Rather than ship them in from abroad, setting up or sourcing from closer to home could provide sustainability, financial and risk-reducing supply chain advantages.

MINERALS

As well as abundant forests and vast swathes of prime agricultural land, the United States is also home to an array of minerals that serve all kinds of industrial activities. 

In 2020, mines across the country produced more than $82 billion worth of minerals, according to figures released in the 26th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center. 

“Industries–such as steel, aerospace and electronics–that use nonfuel mineral materials created an estimated $3.03 trillion in value-added products in 2020,” said Steven M. Fortier, director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

In terms of metals, mine production in 2020 was estimated to be $27.7 billion, which is around 3% higher than that in 2019. 

Key contributors to this total value were gold (38%), copper (27%), iron ore (15%) and zinc (6%), with a total of 12 mineral commodities each having been mined at a value of more than $1 billion in 2020.

Geographically, several states are home to sizeable mineral mining activities. In 2020, 12 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. The states, ranked in descending order of production value, were: Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California, Minnesota, Florida, Alaska, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, Wyoming and Georgia.

It is also important to note that some industries in the U.S. rely heavily on imports. In 2020, imports made up more than one half of U.S. consumption for 46 nonfuel mineral commodities, with 17 minerals being wholly imported. These imported minerals are key materials for a range of industrial endeavors, including renewable energy generation and storage, as well as infrastructure technologies.

However, there is no doubt that the U.S. offers opportunities for enterprises reliant on a range of mineral resources, as shown by those 12 states that achieved more than $2 billion in output. 

Here, we explore a few of the country’s most abundant and valuable mineral commodities: 

Gold

Gold needs no introduction. One of the most iconic minerals, it has symbolized prosperity and formed the basis of currency through the ages. 

However, gold also carries a huge number of industrial uses that stretch far beyond coinage and blocks being stored in bank vaults, thanks to a myriad of special and diverse properties that make it incredibly useful. Some of these include being a conductor of electricity, non-tarnishing, very easy to work and able to be drawn into wire and hammered into thin sheets. Moreover, gold can be melted and cast into highly detailed shapes, offering a unique and appealing color and a desirable sheen.

All of this means gold is highly sought after across many industrial practices and sectors. In electronics, for example, devices use very low voltages and currents which are easily interrupted by corrosion or tarnishing at various contact points. Gold is a reliable conductor that can overcome this problem. Indeed, it will be found in almost every sophisticated electronic device, from smartphones and calculators to GPS systems and home assistants like Alexa. 

In terms of gold production in the U.S., the west of the country is where most deposits are found. Nevada and Alaska are the states that lead the production rankings from both lode mines and placer deposits, these feeding primarily into jewelry, electronics and coin-making activities.

In 2016, around $8.5 billion of gold was produced across the U.S., translating into 209 metric tons.   

Crushed stone 

Somewhat less glamourous than gold, crushed stone is an equally important mineral commodity produced in high quantities and serving critical industrial activity. 

According to USGS National Minerals Information Center figures for 2016 (the most recent available), the value of American crushed stone output, which includes limestone, dolomite and granite, reached $16.2 billion. 

The vast majority of crushed stone supplies the construction and ongoing upkeep of the United States’ transportation network. In 2016, more than three quarters of crushed stone went into road construction and maintenance, with another 11% going into cement manufacturing activities and 7% being used in lime production.  

Companies working with these materials (especially those producing various construction aggregates) will therefore likely be based in states where crushed stone output is highest in order to gain a proximity advantage. This is important, as crushed stone is a heavy material of relatively low value per ton, meaning any savings that can be made on transport will greatly increase financial viability. 

A handful of states are resultantly responsible for more than half of the U.S. production of crushed stone. These are Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. It should also be noted that small amounts of crushed stone are imported from the likes of Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. 

Copper 

Another important mineral supplying the construction sector is copper. One of the first metals ever mined and used by humans, it has played an influential role in the shaping and evolution of civilizations. 

It remains the fifth most valuable mineral mined in the United States. In 2016, 1.41 million metric tons were produced, generating $6.8 billion in revenue–most of it deriving from sites in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Michigan. 

Some 44% of this copper supported construction sector activities, with 19% being used in the production of transportation equipment and another 18% going into electric and electronic products. 

global trade

TOP 20 U.S. CITIES FOR GLOBAL TRADE

The year 2020 was like no other for global trade. Even when news of the coronavirus outbreak in China began to be picked up on U.S. airwaves, few could have imagined quite how far-reaching and devastating the pandemic’s impact would become. And we are still feeling the effects both in public health and economic terms today. 

This certainly adds an extra dynamic to the latest list of top exporting cities in the USA. Despite the economic standstill caused by lockdowns and restrictions on movement of goods and people, there are a handful of cities that actually managed to increase their year-on-year value of goods exported in 2020–take Corpus Christi and Portland, both able to sneak into the top 10 as a result.

They join the usual suspects such as Houston, New York and Los Angeles, which despite suffering substantial losses in global trade because of the pandemic still comfortably make the top three. 

Indeed, 2020 was still a big year for the 392 metropolitan areas of the United States, which in total exported $1.3 trillion in goods. Although this is a $194 billion drop on 2019, almost one-in-four metro areas grew their export trade, demonstrating a healthy sign of resilience as the U.S. economy seeks to bounce back from a difficult period. 

Read on to find out which other cities complete the list of America’s most valuable exporting hubs, which is comprised using metropolitan area export trading data from the International Trade Administration. 

1 – Houston, TX 

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $104.538 billion

The Houston metropolitan area was by far the largest exporter last year, amassing well over $100 billion of goods sales to markets abroad. Almost $18 billion of this went to Mexico, with Canada, Brazil, China and Japan the other key destinations. Oil and gas, chemicals and petroleum and coal products dominate Houston’s exports, between them accounting for around 80% of export revenue. Whether by land, air or sea, Houston offers an impressive array of logistical and distribution channels to move goods to other countries around the world, including the No. 1 foreign trading port in the United States. Its location, which is equidistant from East and West coasts, also provides strategic advantages. 

2 – New York, NY

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $75.745 billion

Although exporting activity dropped by more than 13% in value last year due to the pandemic, New York is still comfortably the second biggest generator of global trade in the country. Canada is comfortably its largest trading partner, with more than $11.6 billion of exports heading across the border in 2020. Other key export destinations for New York include Switzerland, Mexico, Hong Kong and China. In terms of sectors, chemicals, metals, computer and electronics, and transportation equipment represent the most prolific in terms of goods exported. The New York Governor’s Office also recently unveiled the state’s 2021 infrastructure plan, a $306 billion program which will help to fuel export growth in future years. 

3 – Los Angeles, CA

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $50.185 billion

Los Angeles, thanks to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is home to the largest seaports complex in the western hemisphere. It is therefore no surprise that the city ranks highly as a top center for global trade: In 2020, just more than $50 billion of goods were exported, representing a steep decline of nearly 18% on 2019. However, despite being badly hit by the pandemic, Los Angeles still sent several billions of dollars’ worth of goods to Mexico, Canada, Japan, China and Germany, which make up its top five export markets. Computer and electronics goods are the city’s biggest export, with just over $10 billion in international sales in 2020. 

4 – Chicago, IL

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $41.279 billion

The Windy City ranks fourth in the USA for global trade, with exports of more than $41 billion in 2020. Unlike many other major U.S. cities, Chicago was relatively shielded from the pandemic impact in terms of exports, only suffering a 2.7% drop on 2019 levels. Canada and Mexico are its largest exporting destinations, followed by China, Germany and Japan, with chemicals being the most valuable export sector ($7.596 billion). Chicago’s other key exporting industries include computer and electronics, transportation equipment, machinery and agricultural products. Its central location also makes it a strategic hub for business, reflected by the fact that a quarter of all American freight traffic passes through the city. 

5 – Dallas, TX

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $35.642 billion

Dallas was less protected against the economic standstill created by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering a 9.7% drop in export businesses during the course of 2020. However, the city still managed to export the fifth most goods in terms of value last year. Around half of this income came from the transportation equipment and computer and electronics sectors, with U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico once again representing the top two exporting destinations. Dallas is in an extremely well-connected part of the country, with Texas being the top state for rail miles and public roads and also home to formidable port and airport facilities. 

6 – New Orleans, LA

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $31.088 billion

New Orleans is one of America’s most important cities when it comes to the global trade of agricultural products. Last year, more than $15.7 billion of export income was derived from this busy sector, with other significant contributions coming from petroleum and coal products, processed foods, oil and gas, and chemicals. Unlike many of its fellow heavyweight exporting cities, New Orleans’ primary exporting destination is China by some considerable distance, with $7.864 billion of goods being sent there in 2020. Mexico is a distant second, registering $2.9 billion in imported goods from the city. Japan, the Netherlands and Colombia make up the rest of New Orleans’ top five export markets. 

7 – Detroit, MI

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $30.715 billion

Detroit is another city where a specific exports sector dominates. In this case, it is transportation equipment, which accounted for over half ($16.686 billion) of all exporting value in 2020. Among the key transportation goods produced and exported from Detroit are spark ignition engine trucks weighing over five tons, large and mid-sized cars, as well as parts and accessories. The city’s exports took a huge hit as a result of the pandemic, 2020’s figure being more than 25% down on 2019’s value. Mexico and Canada, meanwhile, continue to be Detroit’s major export destinations with the third and fourth most valuable markets being China and Spain respectively. 

8 – Miami, FL

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $29.112 billion

Three of Miami’s top five exporting destinations are with southern neighbors, most notably Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, which between them account for about a sixth of all exports. This is no surprise given Miami’s favorable location on the southeastern tip of the United States, but the city also makes it easy for Latin American businesses to trade–helped by the fact it is blessed with multimodal infrastructure and is considered the America’s second-largest financial hub. Its most exported goods include computer and electronic products, transportation equipment and chemicals, with other key exporting destinations being Canada and Germany. Last year saw Miami take a heavy pandemic hit, with exports down 18% versus 2019. 

9 – Corpus Christi, TX

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $28.784 billion

Corpus Christi is America’s foremost oil and gas export hub and is almost unique in registering a year-on-year growth in export revenues in 2020, which were up by $1.97 billion (7.3%). The Port of Corpus Christi saw a massive 65% growth in crude shipments last year, a remarkable feat given the immense volatility experienced in the global crude market. A major reason for this growth has been the recent development of pipeline infrastructure into the port from key production sites in western Texas. Corpus Christi’s major exporting destinations are mostly found in Europe and Asia, with the top five export markets comprising China, the Netherlands, the UK, South Korea and Taiwan. 

10 – Portland, OR

Total value of goods exported in 2020: $27.824 billion

Completing the top 10 U.S. cities for global trade is Portland. Like Corpus Christi, it saw a considerable rise in the value of exported goods in 2020, reaching over $28.8 billion and growing by 17.1% ($4.062 billion) on 2019 export revenues. Given its proximity to Canada, it is little surprise to see its North America neighbor ranking in Portland’s top three exporting destinations. However, the city does far more business with Mexico and especially China, which alone accounts for more than a third of all export income ($9.784 billion). Here, there is strong demand for computer and electronics products, as well as machinery and agricultural goods. 

The rest of the top 20 

11 – El Paso, TX ($27.154 billion)

12 – Atlanta, GA ($25.790 billion)

13 – San Francisco, CA ($23.864 billion)

14 – Seattle, WA ($23.850 billion) 

15 – Boston, MA ($23.234 billion)

The next highest-ranked group of cities sees us journey around the States, from El Paso in the South to Seattle up in the far Northwest. 

El Paso just misses out on featuring in the top 10, but not by much. It’s huge trade with Mexico saw it amass more than $27 billion in exports in 2020, the majority of this involving computer and electronic goods. Next is Atlanta, which relies heavily on transportation equipment exports for its revenues, with Germany, Canada and Mexico all acting as key trading destinations. San Francisco adds another Californian city into the top 20 for global trade thanks to its notorious technology scene; Belgium, Canada and the three major East Asian economies of China, Japan and South Korea being the most valuable export markets there. Seattle also enjoys sizable export activity with China and nearby Canada, most notably in transportation equipment and food products. Completing the top 15 is Boston, which only saw a slight drop of 1.2% in exporting revenue in 2020, once again its key markets being China and Canada, along with Germany, Mexico and Japan. 

16 – Philadelphia, PA ($23.022 billion)

17 – Cincinnati, OH ($21.002 billion) 

18 – San Jose, CA ($19.534 billion) 

19 – San Diego, CA ($18.999 billion) 

20 – Minneapolis, MN ($17.109 billion)

The final group making up the top 20 U.S. cities for global trade starts with Philadelphia, which is one of the country’s most prolific traders with the United Kingdom. Indeed, the UK is second only to Canada in terms of the value of goods received from the Pennsylvanian city, with the chemicals sector being the most valuable exporter. 

In Ohio, Cincinnati makes the top 20 despite seeing a drop in exports of 27% last year. Despite this, the city still managed to export more than $10.5 billion of transportation equipment. The next two largest exporting metropolitan areas both reside in California, with San Jose ranking No. 18 thanks to its strong technology sector exports and healthy trading relations with major Asian economies such as China, Taiwan and Japan. San Diego, at No. 19, enjoys far stronger trade with Mexico, its main exporting sectors being manufactured goods, computer and electronic products, chemicals and machinery. Completing the top 20 is Minneapolis, whose key export destinations include Canada, Mexico and China, with strong exporting activity in the machinery, chemicals and electronics sectors. 

logistics

AMERICA’S 50 LEADING 3PLs: IT’S CLEAR THIRD-PARTY LOGISTICS COMPANIES ARE NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER.

The logistics industry has faced more than its fair share of challenges over the past year. 

As economies were brought (literally) to a halt by lockdowns and transport restrictions, the process of moving goods from A to B became riddled with added complexity, cost and difficulty. 

However, what the pandemic period has shown is just how critical the likes of third-party logistics (3PL) companies are to keeping all of our lives moving forward. Logistics workers have been among the unsung heroes who have often been on the frontline as the virus swept (and continues to sweep) its way across many parts of the world. 

The first part of this year’s top 50 takes a broad sweep of just some of the companies that continue to go above and beyond to go keep industries functioning–manufacturing, defense and ecommerce among them. 

Next is a look at some specific specialties that make particular 3PLs standout. Here, we list companies that thrive on technology, specialize in multimodal offerings and offer service to the more remote states in the USA. 

The third and final chapter of our top 50 charts some of the industry leaders that can provide inspiration to women seeking careers in logistics. The number of women truck drivers industrywide has grown 68% since 2010, with a 30% rise between 2018 and 2019. While this sort of trajectory is promising, women still only make up 10% of our long-haul drivers, meaning there is still plenty of work to do. We look at a handful of firms with inspirational female leaders and managers helping to steer their progress. 

3PLs BY SECTOR

Manufacturing 

Holman Logistics: Established in 1864, Holman Logistics has been a longstanding partner for manufacturing firms through the decades. Its manufacturing support services include material inventory management, quality control, shipping and receiving, and workforce management. Holman works closely with many well-known brand manufacturers of both CPG and durable goods. www.holmanusa.com 

UTXL: During its 24 years of service, Kansas City-based UTXL has arranged more than 1 million shipments with a 98% on-time delivery rate. Many of its customers are longstanding clients in the manufacturing space, from building products suppliers to automotive parts producers. www.utxl.com 

More 3PLs 

Transplace

-United Facilities

Defense and aerospace

Phoenix Logistics: Based in Orlando, Florida, Phoenix Logistics has been providing engineering, manufacturing, IT, and logistics and supply chain services to the defense, aerospace, and industrial markets for 30 years. The company serves OEMs, Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, and government customers worldwide, including the US military. www.phxlogistics.com 

Neovia: Located in Irving, Texas, Neovia provides flexible solutions designed exclusively for the time-sensitive, service-critical requirements of the aerospace and defense industry. Its suite of services comprises inventory forecasting, warehousing, performance monitoring, replenishment and deployment, network design, supplier management and performance-based logistics. www.neovialogistics.com 

More 3PLs

Omni Logistics 

-Hawthorne Logistics

Ecommerce

Whiplash: Formerly known as Port Logistics Group, California-based Whiplash specializes in omnichannel ecommerce fulfillment services, offering seamless integration with the world’s most powerful and revered ecommerce platforms. Real-time order and inventory insights are key features of its solution, which are powered by an open API and backed up by experienced support personnel. www.whiplash.com 

Rakuten SUPER LOGISTICS: Supported by a one- to two-day U.S. ground delivery network with sites spanning east to west, Rakuten SUPER LOGISTICS positions itself as an expert capable of empowering ecommerce retailers. Its solutions integrate with giant online retail platforms, including Amazon, shopify, eBay and Walmart. www.rakutensl.com 

GEODIS: With a direct presence in 67 countries and a global network spanning 120 countries, GEODIS supports a huge number of retailers with their online operations. The company recently launched an extended GEODIS eLogistics service in the U.S. to provide best-in-class ecommerce fulfillment solutions to emerging direct-to-consumer brands. The service will operate from three key locations in Indiana, California and New Jersey. www.geodis.com    

More 3PLs 

ShipBob

-Seko Logistics

Food & drink

Arrive Logistics: With more than 1,300 employees and over 70,000 unique carriers, Arrive Logistics serves customers through several specialized divisions. The Arrive Fresh team is a centralized, experienced team that is uniquely equipped to solve the challenges of moving produce, meat, seafood, dairy and nursery freight. www.arrivelogistics.com 

McLane Global Logistics: The McLane family has been a proud partner of the U.S. food industry for more than 120 years. Based out of a 285,000-square-foot distribution center in Houston, Texas, the firm offers a complete package of food logistics services. This includes food grade warehousing such as organic certified storage and temperature-controlled facilities, fulfillment, re-packing, transportation and technology services for importing, exporting and domestic business. www.mclanegloballogistics.com 

More 3PLs

Genpro

-RMX Global Logistics

Healthcare

TRIOSE: In its 20-year history, TRIOSE has supported more than 10,000 healthcare locations with their supply-chain operations. The company offers a broad range of smart, full-service supply chain solutions to hospitals and healthcare systems across the United States, leveraging a mix of technology- and human-based support mechanisms to assist clients. www.triose.com 

Cardinal Health: Healthcare logistics has been a specialty of Cardinal Health since 1995. The company is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, and is also a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, as well as a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. www.cardinalhealth.com 

More 3PLs

The Jay Group 

-Rhenus Logistics 

3PLS BY SERVICE SPECIALTY

Technology platforms 

R2 Logistics: R2 Logistics prides itself on leveraging several technology platforms to better serve its customers. Its Transport Management System (TMS) is flexible and scalable, offering features such as KPI reporting, automated decision making and provision of actionable data to underpin supply chain optimization efforts. www.r2logistics.com 

GSC Logistics: With locations in Oakland, Tacoma and Seattle, GSC Logistics has been operating for some of the USA’s largest retailers and manufacturers since 1988 and occupies some of the most strategic gateways on the West Coast. Its offering is based around high-performance technology and platforms which help its clients to mitigate costs through proactive planning and fleet scalability solutions. www.gsclogistics.com 

Transportation Insight: Transportation Insight empowers shippers and carriers with hybrid digital logistics services backed by proprietary technology, data and deep industry human expertise. Based in North Carolina, the firm enables its customers, which typically operate in retail and manufacturing industries, to harness the power of big data to inform strategic supply chain decisions. www.transportationinsight.com 

Coyote Logistics: A ‘tech + humanity’ approach underpins the 3PL offering from Coyote Logistics, something which enables it to keep up with rapidly evolving supply chain trends. For instance, its new pricing framework doesn’t incentivize volume and gross margins, but instead provides accurate rates and optimal matches for customers based on AI and machine learning. www.coyote.com 

Werner Enterprises: Supported by cutting-edge technology, Werner Enterprises is on its way to becoming the first North American carrier to move its entire tech stack and operations to the cloud. This includes the implementation of MasterMind, a new cloud-based transportation management system, and Carrier’s EDGE, a self-service digital platform designed to increase available freight visibility. www.werner.com 

CT Logistics: Thanks to a range of in-house software systems, CT offers customized services and programs which combine to present a comprehensive, global supply chain solution for customers. The firm has been in operation since 1923 and has moved with the times in order to remain relevant. Today, many of its applications and services are available as SaaS (Software as a Service) and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) via the cloud. www.ctlogistics.com 

More 3PLs 

EXIM Trade Options

-LFS

-NEON Logistics

Remote locations

Lynden: Lynden offers complete 3PL services in, out and within Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, as well as many locations around the globe. The company is regarded as a particular expert in Alaska shipping and has been operating in the state since 1954, servicing a diverse array of industries including energy, mining, construction, seafood, retail and manufacturing.  www.lynden.com 

Carlile Transportation: While not fitting the typical profile of a 3PL, Carlile Transportation is a go-to for companies looking to reach many of the remote and inaccessible parts of Alaska. As well as transport, the company also provides warehousing and brokerage services, among other solutions, for small businesses. www.carlile.biz

More 3PLs

Direct Drive Logistics

Hawaii Transfer Company

Multimodal networks

Echo Logistics: Since its founding in 2005, Echo has built strong partnerships with over 50,000 carriers, creating a robust network that allows the company to move over 16,000 shipments every day for more than 35,000 clients. With its multimodal transportation solutions, the firm serves corporations of all sizes, from small and medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies. www.echo.com 

A.N. Deringer: In 1919, Alfred Neel Deringer founded the firm that today employs more than 450 supply chain professionals. It is the largest privately-held customs broker in North America, providing solutions over land, air and sea thanks to its formidable network of multimodal transit options. www.anderinger.com 

DACHSER: Since the founding of this family-owned enterprise in 1930, DACHSER has evolved into a global market leader in system logistics. With a presence in 24 locations around the world, the firm employs well over 650 staff and handled more than 214,000 tons of cargo in 2020, utilizing its multimodal capabilities, including air, sea and rail freight services. www.dachser.com 

More 3PLs 

C. H. Robinson

-NTG Freight

-Hub Group 

3PLs empowering women in logistics

NFI Industries: Having been in business since 1932, NFI prides itself on being a champion of sustainability, with the wellbeing of its people and communities at top of mind. It remains a family-owned business, and was recently recognized by the Women in Trucking Association (WIT) as one of the best companies for women to work for in transportation. www.nfiindustries.com 

Langham Logistics: Langham Logistics stands proud as the only women-owned 3PL with GMP storage and distribution facilities in both the Midwest and Southwestern regions of the United States. The company was co-founded by President & CEO Cathy Langham, who opened two franchises for trucking and air freight three years after graduating from the IU Kelley School of Business before setting up Langham with her brother and sister. www.elangham.com 

Kenco Group: In business for more than seven decades, Kenco Group is the largest woman-owned 3PL company in the United States. Its purpose is simple: “to empower our people and customers through connected solutions.” Jane Kennedy Greene sits as chairwoman of the Board of Directors, which is headquartered in Tennessee, while the company has operations in 30 U.S. states and Canada. www.kencogroup.com 

Knichel Logistics: Knichel Logistics is a woman-owned, non-asset-based provider of transportation and logistics services, including intermodal, trucking, specialty equipment and various ancillary services. The company was founded by Kirsty Knichel, her siblings and father William, who she took over from as president & CEO in 2009. Today, she owns a majority stake in the business and hopes her success will inspire other women to step into the industry. www.knichellogistics.com 

BAT Logistics: In March 2021, the Women in Trucking Association announced its fourth annual list of Top Women to Watch in Transportation, with BAT Logistics’ Ashley Jankowski among them. She currently serves as vice president and was selected along with her peers for their significant career accomplishments in the past 12 to 18 months as well as efforts to promote gender diversity. www.batlogistics.com 

J.B. Hunt: As it celebrates passing 60 years in business J.B. Hunt defines itself as a people-first company founded on innovation, disruption and service. Co-founder Johnelle Hunt has become one of the most influential women in the transportation industry after setting up J.B. Hunt with her husband in 1961. She regularly speaks in front of female audiences, using her story to inspire others into pursuing a career in the 3PL industry. www.jbhunt.com 

Odyssey: Several of Odyssey’s senior management are women. Last year, Lindsey Shellman, vice president of WIN Business Services–a web-based tool that helps shippers manage their freight with just a few keystrokes–was named one of Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Women in Supply Chain. “As a supply-chain leader, it is my responsibility to provide equal opportunities and create a work environment where women can contribute and excel,” she stated in response. www.odysseylogistics.com 

ReedTMS Logistics: Addressing issues of gender and racial equality is a key part of ReedTMS Logistics’ mission, and the company routinely features in the Women in Trucking Association’s best companies to work for lists. In 2019, two of its female managers also gave a keynote presentation on the topic of creating an inclusive company brand at WIT’s Accelerate Conference and Expo. www.reedtms.com 

U.S. Xpress: Women in management positions at U.S. Xpress are making significant contributions to the success of the business and their customers. Vice President of Customer Experience Julie Van de Kamp was named one of Women in Trucking’s 2020 Top Women to Watch in Transportation, and she also headed a leadership panel hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Women in Supply Chain Initiative to mark Women’s History Month earlier this year. www.usxpress.com 

More 3PLs 

BlueGrace Logistics

Aria Logistics 

ports

POWER ’EM UP: LADIES AND GERMS, AMERICA’S TOP 50 POWER PORTS

Trade in and out of the United States would not be possible without sea and river port infrastructure spread across the length and breadth of the country. Using the latest available figures from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, we present the top 50 American power ports based on total tonnage of trade processed in 2019. 


1. Houston, TX

Total tons: 284.9 million 

Located within easy reach of the Gulf of Mexico, the Port of Houston is one of the world’s largest ports, ranking sixth globally for total container TEUs. It is a huge complex made up of public and private facilities that stretches over 50 miles.  

2. South Louisiana, LA

Total tons: 233 million

Spanning 54 miles along the Mississippi River, the Port of South Louisiana is located in America’s leading grain exporting district. Port companies’ activities support more than 30,000 jobs, which represents 63% of all jobs in the River Region.

3. New York, NY and NJ

Total tons: 136.6 million 

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest container port on the East Coast of the United States. Such is the strategic importance of its location, around a third of all US GDP is produced within 250 miles of the site. 

4. Corpus Christi, TX

Total tons: 111.2 million

In operation since 1926, the Port of Corpus Christi has become known as the Energy Port of the Americas, serving as the country’s second largest exporter of crude oil. It boasts a 36-mile, 47-foot-deep channel and is strategically located next to some of Texas’s largest highways. 

5. Beaumont, TX

Total tons: 101.1 million

Another Texan port, Beaumont is a well-developed facility that handles a range of cargoes, including bulk grain, aggregate, liquid petroleum, forest products, military equipment cargo, metals, and more. Its annual economic activity exceeds $24.5 billion. 

6. New Orleans, LA

Total tons: 92.2 million

The Port of New Orleans is a multimodal gateway that combines rail, river and road and is located on the Mississippi River near the Gulf of Mexico. It is also the sixth largest cruise port in the United States.

7. Long Beach, CA

Total tons: 80.7 million 

Sprawling across 3,520 acres of land and 4,600 acres of water, California’s Port of Long Beach handles more than 8 million TEUs every year, cargo which is worth in excess of $200 billion and delivered by more than 2,000 vessels.

8. Baton Rouge, LA

Total tons: 73.4 million

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge lies at the convergence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, providing easy access to the U.S. heartland via 15,000 miles of inland water transportation. 

9. Los Angeles, CA

Total tons: 63 million

The busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, the Port of Los Angeles handles a hugely diverse range of commodities, from avocados to zinc and a whole lot in between. It is situated 25 miles south of downtown LA and spans 7,500 acres along 43 miles of waterfront.

10. Virginia, VA

Total tons: 61.7 million

Based in Norfolk, the Port of Virginia processes more than 4 million containers annually, including those brought over by ultra-large container vessels arriving from the other side of the Atlantic. It is the only East Coast port with congressional authorization for 55-foot-deep channels.

11. Lake Charles, LA

Total tons: 58 million

The Port of Lake Charles brands itself as a dynamic deep-water seaport at the center of the Gulf Coast. In recent years, more than $108 billion of industrial projects have been completed, announced or commenced in and around the complex. 

12. Mobile, AL

Total tons: 56.9 million

Mobile is the only deep-water port in Alabama. Located along the Mobile River, it has direct access to around 1,500 miles of inland and intercoastal waterways that serve the Great Lakes, Ohio and Tennessee river valleys and the Gulf of Mexico.

13. Plaquemines, LA

Total tons: 52.8 million

Nestled in the mouth of the Mississippi River, the Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal provides water-based access to some 33 U.S. states, serving key industrial sectors such as oil and gas, grain, coal and chemicals, among others.

14. Baltimore, MD

Total tons: 44.2 million

The Port of Baltimore offers the deepest harbor in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and is within an overnight drive of a third of the nation’s population. It has benefited greatly from the 2016 expansion of the Panama Canal, granting it access to a wider pool of large vessels. 

15. Savannah, GA

Total tons: 41.9 million

The Port of Savannah is within convenient reach of Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis and Orlando. With 10,000 feet of contiguous berth space, it is one of the fastest growing container ports in the country.  

16. Texas City, TX

Total tons: 41.3 million

Although not the largest port in Texas, the Port of Texas City is a vital trading hub for crude oil imports and the export of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, chemicals and petroleum coke. It has been in operation for more than a century.

17. Huntington Tristate

Total tons: 36.8 million

The Port of Huntingdon Tristate is America’s most influential inland port. Centered on the Ohio River, it is also the largest river port in Virginia. 

18. Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, KY

Total tons: 36.6 million

The Ports of Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky is an inland port complex that covers 226.5 miles of commercially navigable waterways on the Ohio River and Licking River. It is made up of more than 70 active terminals. 

19. Port Arthur, TX

Total tons: 33.9 million

Another jewel in the Texan crown, Port Arthur is based 19 miles from the Gulf of Mexico on the Sabine Neches Waterway. The site completed a significant expansion in 2000 that transformed it into an international facility for cargo shipping. 

20. Duluth-Superior, MN and WI

Total tons: 33.7 million

The twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin, are located at the western part of Lake Superior and represent the farthest inland freshwater seaport in North America. They are home to 20 privately owned bulk cargo docks and an award-wining cargo terminal. 

21. St Louis, MO and WI

Total tons: 31.3 million

Spanning 6,000 acres, the Port of Metropolitan St Louis lies along 15 miles of Mississippi River frontage and has capacity to handle 150 barges a day. It is the second-largest inland port system in the United States. 

22. Tampa, FL

Total tons: 30 million

A well-known cruise terminal, Port Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest cargo tonnage port spanning a 5,000-acre footprint. It can handle ships carrying up to 9,000 TEUs and is flanked by a million square feet of warehouse space and 40-acre container yard. 

23. Freeport, TX

Total tons: 29.8 million

Port Freeport is undergoing a significant harbor channel improvement project to the tune of $295 million that Congress authorized in 2014. The upgrade, which is due for completion in 2025, will offer navigational improvements to calling vessels by deepening and widening the waterway. 

24. Richmond, CA

Total tons: 28.5 million

With roots in petroleum and liquid bulk cargos, the Port of Richmond has become Northern California’s most diversified cargo handler thanks to its expansion into dry bulk, break-bulk and containerized cargo handling. Having also increased its automobile processing facilities, Richmond today ranks No .1 among San Francisco Bay ports in vehicle tonnage.

25. Pascagoula, MS

Total tons: 25.8 million

The Port of Pascagoula is a deep-water port on the southeastern coast of Mississippi. It is split into two major sections–the east and west harbors–which are both home to several public and private cargo terminals. 

26. Valdez, AK

Total tons: 25.2 million

Our first entry from Alaska, the Port of Valdez is America’s farthest north ice-free port. It serves as the southern terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and handles more than 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day. 

27. Charleston, SC

Total tons: 24.6 million

The Port of Charleston is part of South Carolina Ports, which serves as a vital transit hub for many essential industries in the region, including automotive manufacturing, consumers goods, frozen exports, grain and tire manufacturing. South Carolina Ports generates tax revenue in excess of $1.1 billion every year.

28. Port Everglades, FL

Total tons: 24 million

Billed as Florida’s “powerhouse port,” Port Everglades is located in the heart of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the City of Hollywood. Each year, around $34 billion of economic activity is generated through the port.

29. Seattle, WA

Total tons: 23 million

The Port of Seattle was founded in 1911 and stands today as one of the largest container terminals on the West Coast. It has also grown to the largest “Left Coast” cruise port in terms of passenger numbers, with more than 200 annual departures to Alaska. 

30. Pittsburgh, PA

Total tons: 21.8 million

Encompassing 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania, the Port of Pittsburgh is made up of 203 terminals. It is a hugely important transit hub for coal, which makes up around 70% of all cargo passing through in terms of weight. 

31. Tacoma, WA

Total tons: 21.5 million

The Port of Tacoma generates $3 billion of economic activity annually and supports more than 40,000 jobs. As partners in the Northwest Seaport Alliance Tacoma and the Port of Seattle (No. 29) are together the fourth-largest container gateway in the country.

32. Portland, OR

Total tons: 19.4 million

Let’s just keep it in the Pacific Northwest, shall we? As Oregon’s largest port, the Port of Portland is a bustling hub comprising three airports, four marine terminals and five business parks. Grain, minerals, forest products and automobiles and the most common types of cargo passing in and out.

33. Oakland, CA

Total tons: 19.3 million

This Northern California port is located on the Oakland seafront and is equipped with an array of commercial buildings and industrial parks, as well as an airport. The port spans 1,300 acres and was founded in 1927.

34. Paulsboro, NJ

Total tons: 18.4 million

Situated on the Delaware River, the Port of Paulsboro is around 80 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its transfer of key commodities such as crude oil, petroleum products and asphalt. 

35. Jacksonville, FL

Total tons: 17.7 million

JAXPORT is Florida’s largest container port and one of the nation’s most prominent vehicle handling sites. It offers services to 140 ports in more than 70 countries and has many ties with trucking firms and rail links, including 40 daily trains via Class 1 railroads CSX and NS. 

36. Kalama, WA

Total tons: 17 million

Just 30 minutes north of Portland, the Port of Kalama is home to more than 30 companies and 1,000 people. It prides itself on being a business-friendly haven, with no state corporate or personal income taxes levied. 

37. Two Harbors, MN

Total tons: 16.9 million

Two Harbors is a port city in Minnesota. Although its port is relatively small, it transfers nearly 17 million tons of cargo on an annual basis. 

38. Marcus Hook, PA

Total tons: 16.7 million

The Port of Marcus Hook is located on the northwest bank of the Delaware River, where its main activities are receiving and refining crude oil, and the shipping of petroleum products.  

39. Philadelphia, PA

Total tons: 16.3 million

The Port of Philadelphia claims to be the fastest growing port in the United States. It handles trade worth $30.5 billion a year and stands as the largest refrigerated port in the country, helping it to generate more than 54,000 jobs.

40. Boston, MA

Total tons: 16 million

The Port of Boston is a major seaport located in Boston Harbor and adjacent to the City of Boston. It is the largest port in Massachusetts and has facilities dedicated to bulk cargo, petroleum, and LNG shipment and storage.

41. Honolulu, HI

Total tons: 14.3 million

In Hawaii, Honolulu Harbor serves as the state’s principle seaport and handles containers, dry and liquid bulk and breakbulk cargo. It also handles passenger and fishing vessels, with a foreign trade zone established at the Fort Armstrong Terminal.

42. Detroit, MI

Total tons: 13.3 million

The Port of Detroit is situated along the west bank of the Detroit River and is the largest seaport in the state of Michigan. Its 29 terminals process high-grade steel products, coal, iron ore, cement, aggregate and other road building commodities. 

43. Indiana Harbor, IN

Total tons: 12.2 million

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is based in the largest steel-producing region in North America and is home to 30 businesses, half of which are connected to the industry. The site spans almost 600 acres of land.

44. Mid-America Port Commission

Total tons: 12 million

The Mid-America Port Commission is the largest port district on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, serving 26 counties across three states. It transcends two major rivers and is flanked by three Class 1 railroads and four regional airports. 

45. Cleveland, OH

Total tons: 11.9 million

Billed as the premier port of the Great Lakes, the Port of Cleveland supports 20,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual economic activity in the region. Half of U.S. households and manufacturing plants are within an eight-hour drive. 

46. Vancouver, WA

Total tons: 11 million

The Port of Vancouver USA was established in 1912 and serves as a vital gateway for connecting Asia and South America to the U.S. midcontinent and Canada. The Washington state port has more than 50 industrial tenants, including companies specializing in wheat, mineral and liquid bulks, vehicles, and other cargos.  

47. Galveston, TX

Total tons: 11 million

Another entry from Texas, the Port of Galveston offers cruise, cargo and commercial facilities. It is one of the older Texan ports, beginning as a trading post in 1825 and since growing to more than 850 acres in size. 

48. San Juan, PR

Total tons: 10.4 million

Serving the capital of U.S. territory Puerto Rico, the Port of San Juan is comprised of 16 piers, of which half are used for passenger ships and half for cargo vessels. Its cargo facilities allow for more than 500,000 square feet of space for unloading and loading of goods. 

49. Chicago, IL

Total tons: 10 million

Commercial activities in Chicago date back to 18th century fur trading, with the modern history of the Port of Chicago beginning in 1921, when the state legislature approved the development of a deep-water port. Today, it operates as a key Great Lakes multimodal transit facility. 

50. Longview, WA

Total tons: 9.7 million

The Port of Longview has been operating since 1921, and today is home to eight marine terminals and industrial facilities spanning 835 acres along the banks of the Columbia River. Fertilizers, grain, heavy-lift cargo, logs, lumber, minerals, paper, pulp and steel are some of the main cargo categories passing through here.  

transportation

7 STATES WITH COMPREHENSIVE FACILITIES FOR THE MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS

Thankfully, with COVID-19 vaccination programs in full swing, it appears that we are emerging out of the worst of the pandemic which has blighted the lives of so many people and caused so much devastation to businesses across all industries. 

Major parts of the U.S. economy, quite literally, were brought to a standstill with enforced closures and restrictions on the movement of people.

However, despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, goods were still shifted in enormous volume during the course of 2020, the value of such activity in the U.S. and Canada estimated to have surpassed $6.8 billion. 

This figure should steadily rise given how increasingly dependent intermodal transport activity is on the consumer economy’s demand. It is also supported by well-developed hubs across all states that help to facilitate the movement of goods as seamlessly as possible. 

Here, we take a look at just some of the U.S. states with the most favorable logistics infrastructure. 

Illinois

The midwestern state is extremely well served by an array of transport hubs, the most significant being situated in and around its primary city of Chicago. 

Staggeringly, around a quarter of all rail freight calls into the city either as a final destination or stop on a journey to another terminus. Meanwhile, O’Hare International Airport processes around 2 million metric tons of cargo at a value of approximately $200 billion every year.

The state is also indebted to what is North America’s largest inland port in the form of CenterPoint Intermodal Center. Situated in the Joilet and Elwood area, around 40 miles southwest of Chicago, it is a 6,400-acre master-planned intermodal development that sees 3 million TEUs pass through it every year. It is currently home to more than 30 tenant companies that, between them, occupy more than 14 million square feet of space.

CenterPoint Intermodal Center is also built with heavyweight roads able to withstand massive pressure and contains several other useful features such as water and utility systems, public bus service connections, no restrictions on trailer parking ratios and 24/7 on-site fire and police protection.  

The site contains a massive 785-acre Union Pacific Railroad complex just south of Joliet, while another enormous rail complex measuring 770 acres that is operated by BNSF lies farther to the southwest.

When all of this is taken into consideration, CenterPoint can rightly be referred to as Illinois’ intermodal epicenter.  

The state is also making waves in the port scene, with officials recently announcing a $110 million fund to modernize public ports across the territory. Illinois is home to a network of waterways that includes 19 public port districts and more than 400 private terminals along the Illinois, Kaskaskia, Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Texas

The Lone Star State is also no stranger to port-based trade. 

Texas has no fewer than 11 deep-draft ports, eight shallow-draft ports and two recreational ports that combine to make a critical contribution to the economic growth of the state, and represent key components of the region’s transportation system. 

The southern state’s ports are backed up by some of the country’s largest interstate highways and an enormous network of railroads. 

According to figures released by the Association of American Railroads, Texas received 208.1 million tons of rail freight in 2019, the most of any state. To put that in context, Illinois, the second-ranked state, received 107.4 million terminated rail tons. Texas also, unsurprisingly, has by far the largest network of rail infrastructure in terms of outright length, measuring at 10,460 miles compared to second-placed Illinois, which has 6,883 miles of track.   

Over in Dallas, a fairly recent addition to the city’s intermodal transport infrastructure (opening in 2015) is the Wylie Intermodal Terminal. It is a $64 million development owned by Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), and is set to capitalize on significant opportunities in cross-border activity with Mexico. 

Wylie itself is a city and northeastern suburb of Dallas, with the KCS terminal sprawling across 500 acres of land and servicing 12 gulf ports and one Pacific Ocean port, as well as more than 140 transload centers and 11 intermodal ramps. KCS also provides 181 interchange points with other railroads, including all U.S. and Mexico Class 1 railroads.

Michigan

In a typical year, one without the disruptions caused by the pandemic, U.S. freight railroads move around 1.7 billion tons across nearly 140,000 miles of privately-owned infrastructure that run through 49 states.

Michigan is home to 28 such railroads and ranks 14th in terms of total rail miles, with 3,465 miles of track at its disposal. In 2019, it received 31.4 million tons of rail-based cargo and sent 21.2 million tons on its way to other parts of the country or abroad. 

The Detroit region offers extensive logistics options for businesses, including world-leading warehousing and what is often cited as the nation’s best undergraduate and graduate supply chain and logistics university courses.

Furthermore, the region’s strategic location on the Canadian border grants prime access to the wider U.S. and Canadian markets, with more than 47 million people within just a five-hour drive.

Detroit also contains more than 2,000 miles of interstates and highways, four Class 1 railroads, seven cargo ports and 15 airports. In total, the region moves $44 billion of goods evert year. 

According to the Michigan Freight Plan devised in 2017, the state has “an extensive transportation infrastructure system that supports more than $862 billion in economic activity on an annual basis, from ports to rail and highways to runways.”

California 

Over on the West Coast, California boasts some of the most comprehensive logistics infrastructure in the country, especially when it comes to ports and railroads. 

Indeed, California is the third most popular destination for rail freight in the United States, receiving 94.9 million tons in 2019 – the state is also fifth in terms of total tail miles, with 4,971 miles of track spanning over two Class 1 railroads and 26 short-line railroads.  

Los Angeles is home to the West Coast’s busiest seafaring trade hub thanks to the adjoining ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In total, California has one private and 11 public deep seaports and numerous private port and terminal facilities. These handle more than 40% of the total containerized cargo entering the U.S., and almost a third of the nation’s exports. 

Such formidable infrastructure is even further bolstered by 5,800 commercial miles of high traffic volume interstate and state highways, and 12 airports with major cargo facilities. 

All of this combines to present California as one of America’s most extensive, complex and interconnected freight hubs, a system which, according to the Californian government, employs 5 million people. 

Washington 

In the Pacific Northwest, Washington boasts an extraordinary number of ports–some 75 that are found in 33 of the region’s 39 counties. These are supported by 465 miles of navigable waterways for barge traffic on the Columbia and Snake rivers.   

For companies needing logistics infrastructure for accessing the Pacific sea lanes, Washington represents the prudent choice, with many of the 75 ports a day’s sail closer to Asian markets than any others on the West Coast. 

Washington also has the second-largest concentration of distribution centers on the Left Coast, well supplied by 30 railroads (including the Union Pacific and BNSF) which, between them, account for 2,891 miles of track. This allows the state to rank seventh in the U.S. in terms of rail cargo received (65.8 million tons a year). 

Washington’s roads network is also well developed, with 7,000 miles of state highways and more than 39,000 miles of country roads that help reach the most remote parts of the region. In terms of air transportation, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the state’s largest international airport and the ninth busiest in the country.

Much of this infrastructure has been subject to improvements and expansions as part of the $70 billion Connecting Washington program, a bill voted for in 2015 that supports several major projects on the state’s roads, railways, ferry terminals and more.

Pennsylvania 

The Keystone State boasts of 61 railroads in operation, the most of any state in the country. These transport around 150 million tons of freight in and out of the region annually. 

The railroads feed a host of other important logistics infrastructure hubs, which include international airports at Erie, Harrisburg, the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Along with nine other scheduled-service, domestic passenger airports, they move 560,000 tons of material every year. 

Pennsylvania’s three major ports are also extremely successful, exploiting their strategic position between the northeast and Mid-Atlantic and providing deep water, inland and Great Lakes access for convenient international importing and exporting. Indeed, the state’s foreign trade zone program has levelled the playing field and boosts U.S. competitiveness by reducing operational costs for businesses. 

Joining all the logistical dots are more than 120,000 miles of state and local highways which, along with airports and railroads, are part of the Act 89 transportation plan–a commitment to improve numerous transit passages and hubs to the tune of more than $60 billion. 

Wyoming 

Our final stop is landlocked Wyoming, nestled in the Mountain West subregion of the western United States.

Despite being home to just six railroads spanning 1,877 miles, it tops the charts on originated rail tons by a long way. In 2019, 273.2 million tons of goods were sent from the state, more than double that of Illinois in second (125.9 tons). 

Wyoming’s location means it relies heavily on road transportation to move goods from points A to B and onwards to other parts of the country. Here, it is well catered for, with Wyoming motorists collectively traveling 10.2 billion miles annually and moving a large proportion of the $66 billion of commodities shipped to and from the state each year. 

The design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure supports around 13,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the economy, including tourism, retail, agriculture and manufacturing. 

Wyoming’s airports also play an important supporting role. There are nine in total, the most significant being Jackson Hole Airport, located in the spectacular Grand Teton National Park. 

breakbulk americas

BREAKBULK IS BACK: AFTER PANDEMIC HICCUP, BREAKBULK AMERICAS RETURNS TO HOUSTON

After missing 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Breakbulk Americas is returning in September.

“This event from September 28 to 30 is all about getting together as an industry after a very long two-year break,” says Leslie Meredith, Marketing and Media Director for the event. “Breakbulk Americas is the first Breakbulk event to return to the market post-pandemic. We are working very closely with the City of Houston and the George R. Brown Convention Center to make sure that this is a safe experience for all.”

You might say Breakbulk Americas has gotten a shot in the arm.

“Fortunately, the vaccine rollout has been very efficient and Americans are able to move around with a great deal of freedom, which bodes well for the event this fall,” Meredith says.


 

Safety for all involved is paramount for event organizers, Hyve Group. In January, Visit Houston, the city’s entity that governs events and tourism, outlined its exceptional safety measures that will be in place for the event along with other improvements to support the region’s top event for the project cargo and breakbulk industry.

John Solis, senior vice president of Sales & Client Services at the George R. Brown Convention Center (a.k.a. GRB Center), said in a communiqué to Breakbulk, the convention center has made significant enhancements to its facility. The GRB Center is the first convention center in the world to deploy the Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) system, which deploys biodefense filtration technology proven to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 (99.999%) and other airborne contaminants. 

In addition, a new virtual studio inside the GRB Center will provide flexibility to maximize opportunities for hybrid experiences. This feature will allow Breakbulk to host remote expert speakers should that be necessary due to travel or budgetary considerations, along with its in-person industry panelists. 

A third enhancement will be permanent thermal scanning stations located at all entry points that can process up to 100 guests per minute, ensuring no delays to access the exhibition floor.

The new features complement Hyve’s own safe and secure program that is applied to all Hyve events.

At the last Breakbulk Americas convention in 2019, more than 4,800 attended, which has made Breakbulk Americas the region’s largest and most influential event across Canada, the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean for all those involved in the project cargo and breakbulk community.

Meredith said organizers have “some exciting plans for Breakbulk Americas to fuel networking for new business opportunities, which has never been more important. The traditional welcome reception held Tuesday evening at the GRB Center will embrace the spirit of Texas as thousands gather for the Reunion at the Breakbulk Saloon. The entire exhibition floor will be decked out Western-style with ‘watering holes’ (themed bars) throughout the hall.”

Leading up to the reunion will be an exclusive Executive Summit for C-level exhibitors and shippers to tackle post-COVID recovery together. On a lighter note, all attendees are invited to participate in the 2021 Maritime Workers Emergency Medical Fund Golf Tournament at the Hermann Park Golf Course in Houston.

The first full day of the exhibition and conference begins on Wednesday, Sept. 29, continuing through Thursday afternoon, Sept. 30. On the main stage, industry leaders will present a wide range of insights on the evolving impact of COVID on business and projects, President Biden’s infrastructure plan, U.S. offshore wind project opportunities, the carrier sector, women in breakbulk on tackling the imposter syndrome and the effects, both long term and short term, of the greening of the oil and gas supply chain.

Meredith said that “an integral part of Breakbulk Americas is contributing to the next generation of transport and logistics professionals, which we do through the Jerry Nagel Education Day and guided tours of the exhibition floor. With strong ties to Texas universities and beyond, Breakbulk typically hosts around 200 students and their instructors at this introduction to the industry and to its leaders. Education Day will be held on Thursday.”

(Agenda: https://americas.breakbulk.com/business-programme.)

Breakbulk Americas attracts new exhibitors annually, but there are many who make it a “must” event, like the Port of Baltimore.

“Breakbulk cargo is a very important subject matter for the Port of Baltimore and Breakbulk Americas is a must-attend conference,” says William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. “Last year, Baltimore handled more than 173,000 tons of breakbulk cargo, which was a 23% jump over 2019 and so far this year we are up 4% over last year.”

Doyle continued: “We regularly handle power and heat steam recovery generation machinery, wind turbine equipment, transformers and other energy production equipment. We also serve as a major gateway for breakbulk premium fresh fiber paperboards, including folding boxboards, food service boards and white kraftliners, especially since the e-commerce boom.” 

He noted that his facility’s “excellent geographic location to states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio allows Baltimore to be an ideal port for handling breakbulk cargo destined to those states. Baltimore also has two, heavy-lift cranes and direct-to-rail capabilities. The Breakbulk Americas conference allows us to meet and connect with our current breakbulk customers and seek out opportunities with prospective customers. We will have our breakbulk sales representative Rick Pagley at the event.”

For Barnhart Crane and Rigging in Fairhope, Alabama, “there is really no greater opportunity to connect and network with those involved in the heavy transport and project cargo industry than Breakbulk Americas,” says Chris Teague, Barhart’s director of Marketing. “Barnhart has been committed to this event for years because it has always borne fruit. As a national company with 50 locations across the U.S., Breakbulk is the one event for which our sales team can gather and engage with customers, vendors and key influencers within the industry. Year-after-year, all Breakbulk Americas attendees and exhibitors can always be guaranteed to interact with the (pun intended) movers and shakers in the industry.” 

Ken Carey, manager, Business Development, with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., says “Highway H2O has been attending this event for many years. We find the quality of the event, the attendees and the other exhibitors to be world-class.”

Carey adds that, “Given the bi-national scope of the Seaway-Great Lakes transportation system, we also enjoy the opportunity to meet new contacts and expand on relationships we have developed over the years.”

Convention exhibitor Port Tampa Bay looks at Breakbulk Americas as key to its business, according to Wade Elliott, the port’s vice president of Business Development. 

“We are Florida’s largest port for steel cargo and have been receiving increasing volumes of breakbulk lumber, thanks to a new service which was launched last year,” Elliott says. “Breakbulk Americas provides a great networking forum for us to meet with the carriers, importers and exporters and coordinate plans to serve our growing market, in particular the Tampa/Orlando I-4 Corridor, Florida’s distribution hub.”

Annual Breakbulk Americas attendee Wolfe House Movers/Buckingham Heavy Transport has between two and four company members at the event, says Anna Brovont, the Bernville, Pennsylvania, company’s marketing administrator.

“As a heavy haul transporter, we have found that Breakbulk Americas has been integral to our business in bringing us an opportunity to discuss their interests with our clients, expand our networks and stay abreast of developments within the industry,” she says. “We do some business but use Breakbulk Americas primarily to touch base with clients.”

carrier

A ROUNDUP OF RECENT MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS THAT ARE SHAPING AND DEFINING THE CARRIER INDUSTRY

There is no denying that the past 18 months have been a tumultuous period for the global maritime industry. 

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), sea-based trade plunged by 4.1% in 2020 due to the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19. 

The pandemic has sent shockwaves through supply chains, shipping networks and ports, leading to plummeting cargo volumes and foiling growth prospects, not helped by the enormous uncertainty that accompanies the world’s efforts to emerge out of the pandemic. 

Despite the gloom, UNCTAD expects maritime trade growth to return to positive territory and expand by 4.8% in 2021, assuming world economic output recovers. However, the organization highlights the need for the maritime transport industry to brace for change and be well prepared for a transformed post-COVID-19 world.

Looking at the commercial and strategic activities of major shipping lines is often a good sign of the health of the industry more widely. 

As we progress through 2021, mergers and acquisitions are giving mixed signals, and clearly paint a picture of fluctuating fortunes. 

Damco and Diamond S Shipping dissolve 

In September 2020, industry leaders Maersk announced that it would be integrating Damco’s air and ocean less-than-container-load shipping into its wider business, thus dissolving the brand it merged with Maersk Line at the beginning of 2019. 

The move was part of series of strategic plays by CEO Soren Skou that are geared toward a central goal of becoming an integrated logistics company that provides end-to-end solutions for its customers. 

Shipping commentators regard the Damco internalization as a blurring of the lines between forwarders and carriers. 

For forwarders, alarm bells could start ringing as Maersk now provides direct competition to these companies. DB Schenker reacted quickly to the announcement, offering a so-called stability package to Damco customers that matched the previous terms they were operating under. 

It has created a fascinating dynamic, as many forwarders rely on Maersk as a supplier of carrier services. 

And Damco has not been the only casualty of the Danish company’s reshuffling. Maersk has also spun off lines that include its once-formidable oil drilling business, instead focusing its efforts on acquiring businesses that fit into its core purpose. This includes those specializing in customs and warehousing, as well as numerous digital tools. 

Another well-known brand that has fallen away is America’s Diamond S Shipping, which in March announced it was merging with New York-based International Seaways, the latter keeping its brand as part of the all-stock transaction deal. 

Post-merger, International Seaways will own a fleet of 100 tankers that between them have a capacity of 11.3 million deadweight tons, assets which give it an implied market capitalization of around $1 billion. The fleet split will be approximately 70-30 between crude tankers and product tankers respectively.

Diamond S Shipping went public after it merged with Capital Product Partners in early 2019, this after failing with an IPO attempt five years earlier.

Speaking at the time of the latest merger announcement, Nadim Qureshi, chairman of the Board of Directors of Diamond S Shipping, commented: “We are pleased to enter into a transaction that will both create near-term value for our shareholders and create a superior, scale vehicle that enables investors to gain exposure in both the crude and product tanker markets with strong fundamentals. Importantly, since the focus of the management teams of both Diamond S and INSW are similar, we see further value from synergies in the combined company.”

The combined company will be home to 2,200 employees and carry a market value of around $2 billion. 

K-Alliance and Hapag-Lloyd show brighter prospects 

In South Korea, a huge code-sharing agreement in the form of the K-Alliance looks set to strengthen a series of shipping firms’ competitiveness in Southeast Asia. 

The move sees several enterprises joining forces–HMM, SM Line, Pan Ocean and the recently merged Sinokor Merchant Marine and Heung-A Line–with the intention of reducing operating costs and increasing quality of services.

It is thought that the alliance represents around 40% of South Korea’s container volumes in the region, which stands at approximately 480,000 TEUs. It is hoped that this consortium will help to stave off international competition that is threatening to take a greater market share. 

K-Alliance is the brainchild of South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, which oversaw the signing of the agreement via video conferencing toward the end of 2020. As an extra incentive, it is offering alliance members preferential interest rates for new vessel orders. 

On announcing the move, the ministry hinted that more activity could be in store. 

“It’s the first attempt to form a service alliance consisting of only South Korean carriers to reap economies of scale,” read the announcement. “Other operators are welcome to join in at any time, in consultation with existing member companies.”

Korea’s shipping industry, having hit rock bottom, is starting to show signs of a rebound, the K-Alliance being another indication that the sector is on its way to a substantive recovery. 

The activity of German firm Hapag-Lloyd also sheds some light on the general direction of travel for the global shipping industry. In announcing the acquisition of NileDutch in March 2021, it has signaled its intent to expand its operations in the booming African market. 

With over 40 years of expertise, NileDutch is one the most prominent providers of container services from and to West Africa. The company is present in 85 locations across the world and has 16 offices spread across the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Singapore, China, Angola, Congo and Cameroon. 

With 10 liner services, around 35,000 TEUs of transport capacity and a container fleet of around 80,000 TEU, the company connects Europe, Asia and Latin America with West and South Africa. 

Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, outlined the firm’s faith in the African market when news broke of the NileDutch transaction.

“Africa is an important strategic growth market for Hapag-Lloyd,” Jansen said. “The acquisition of NileDutch strengthens our position in West Africa and will be an excellent addition to our existing activities on the continent. Our combined customer base will benefit from a denser network from and to Africa as well as from a much higher frequency of sailings.”

Indeed, as the world begins to emerge from its cocoon and vaccination programs extend their reach, it will be with great interest to observe where the dust settles in relation to the makeup of the global ocean carrier industry. 

Some big names have disappeared while others have strengthened–a new status quo that has revealed key trends which could shape the sector moving forward.

Whether it is the move by giants such as Maersk to combine forwarding and carrier services, or the clear vote of confidence shown by Hapag-Lloyd in the African market, the dice are starting to be rolled after the standstill period brought about by COVID-19. 

career

LESSON FOR THE DAY: ONE PROFESSIONAL’S CAREER PATH 

In 2019, more than 11 billion tons of cargo were shipped internationally, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the dollar value of global trade that same year was approximately $19 trillion (U.S.).

The logistics required in the transshipment of products by sea, air, rail and truck are enormous, and the efficiency of the multitude of supply chains is equally as vital. Developing the logistical programs and building supply chain models require people with in-depth training in these sectors of cargo movement.

Patrick Bohan has been involved in supply management and logistics for several years. The director of Business Development with the Halifax Port Authority in Nova Scotia, Canada, Bohan says he would highly recommend a career path in these specific sectors.

He said his work in the area of supply chains has been “fascinating” and states that it is the supply chains that “make the world go around every day.”

Approximately 80% of global trade moves by ship and “even through the global pandemic, these supply chains had to keep functioning and were more important than ever,” Bohan stressed.

He said that, thankfully, with the necessary technology, “we had remote work capabilities and we had the devices we could get the work done from just about anywhere and that was important to keep lot of things going.”

After earning a business degree from Western University in London, Ontario, Bohan’s “first employee experience was in and around transportation,” he says. I knew how to use Excel (Microsoft) and spreadsheets plus other software programs.” 

With this background, he could see value in his training and felt “maybe I could work in this industry for the long term.” Bohan saw an opportunity in the transportation field. “To be quite honest,” trade globally was growing and getting more sophisticated in terms of overseas trade, as both inbound and outbound supply chains were being “connected around the world,” he said.

He started working in transportation in the 1990s and as his experience began to develop, he wanted to get more into logistics and supply chain management. So, he felt the best way for him to accomplish that was to become a Certified Logistics Professional (CCLP) through the Canadian Institute of Traffic and Transportation (CITT).

Bohan worked on correspondence courses at night and during weekends and studied “basically all different modes of transportation and warehousing and distribution topics. When I completed the courses and had five years of full-time work experience, I qualified for the designation and every year there is some upkeep required.

That was my first specific training in this field and it has served me well, to move up the learning curve in an efficient way and to get some clues about where the world is going in that industry,” he said.

Although his career was moving forward, Bohan said the shipping industry and his specific areas of supply chain and logistics are always evolving and changing and a mid-career refresher was important in his line of work.

“I had been out of school for about 10 years and working and by going back and doing my MBA [Master of Business Administration in International Business at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax], I had freshened up on the changes that had taken place in the world.”

The MBA program proved invaluable to Bohan because it had “an international project, too, which I was able to complete using work-related concepts.” He said the research project was related to his work at the port and involved some trade with China and Vietnam. “It was timely because in 2005,” when Bohan was doing his MBA, China and Vietnam “were coming into their own and the port had a lot of interest with what was going on in that part of the world with Asian trade.” 

He looked at the Asian market from the perspective of how this industry would change some of the trade patterns as well as logistics and supply chain habits.

Bohan, who was involved in the early stages of building Asian trade through Halifax, actually went to China and Vietnam for two weeks as part of his MBA project.

Southeast Asia seemed to be where the action was and the MBA project certainly helped,” he said. It was his first trip to those countries and it provided him with “good, direct connections” with the work he was doing at the port.

In a further comment on a refresher program for mid-career professionals, Bohan also suggested “some kind of specialized certification in your field.” He said an MBA or a certification program would provide “the best path to discover things that may have changed from early career to mid-career.” 

With the shipping industry and supply chains constantly evolving, updating in mid-career is also important in dealing with new technology and data streams, things which increase efficiency of supply chains, said Bohan. Early in his career, he had some ideas of where the world was headed based on training and technology and how it could be adapted to make supply chains more efficient. 

Looking into the future now, Bohan said there are discussions about artificial intelligence and other technologies, which seem to be moving to the next level where the machines might actually learn logistics and supply-chain models and update them.

So, he stressed, “I think it is very important for people in mid-career to touch base with the technology, get comfortable with it and find out what it can do so they don’t feel the world is passing them by.”

And in the shipping industry in particular, with the constant introduction of larger container ships, improved technology is vital with changing supply chains and logistics in handling cargo.

Without technology, it would be impossible to imagine if you had a 24,000 TEU ship and had to keep track of every single container plus the speed of planning, the arrivals, getting them unloaded to rail or truck and the transshipment to many locations,” Bohan says. “Without technology, can you imagine the volume of paper?”

In his work at the Port of Halifax, Bohan has occasionally been invited to speak to high school students about the port, his role there and how things get from one side of the world to the provincial capital of Nova Scotia. 

He believes that speaking to these students—or even providing business programs on supply chains and logistics as part of a curriculum—would be beneficial “because so many jobs and careers are somewhat related to supply chain.” Having their young eyes opened to the field early, Bohan added, may be advantageous compared to having to make last-minute decisions later in life.

WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR

People looking to the transportation industry for a career with a focus on logistics and supply-chain management should know that many employers are looking for specific things from new recruits.

Take enVista, for example. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the global software, consulting and managed services provider was founded by supply chain and technology experts in response to market demand for skilled consulting services.

“In terms of training for labor-management consulting roles, we do have a multi-phase training approach that consists of on-the-job training, introductory classroom training and specific vendor application training, i.e. Blue Yonder, Korber, etc.,” says enVista Vice President Tom Stretar. 

“In addition, for warehouse management, labor management, and transportation consulting roles, the common college degrees we keep an eye out for include, Supply Chain Management (BA/BS or MBA) and Industrial Engineering or equivalent type engineering degrees, like Mechanical Engineering (BS), Computer Science Engineering (BA/BS) and Data/Business Analytics (BA/BS).”

First published by Reuters

cold

CONTAINER PORTS AND COLD STORAGE SPECIALISTS TEAM UP FOR SUPPLY CHAIN SUCCESS

Life as we know it would not be possible without cold chains. 

By transporting food, pharmaceuticals, and other products from where they are grown or extracted, through the manufacturing process, out to shops and food outlets and, ultimately, onto the end consumer, the cold chain facilitates our existence. 

Unlike goods that can be transported at an ambient temperature range, managing the cold chain is an altogether more specific undertaking that relies on highly specialist skills, technology, facilities, and vehicles. At each stage of a product’s journey, which can involve multiple stakeholders taking responsibility for individual legs, it must be kept at a precise temperate or risk becoming unsafe for consumption. 

Indeed, spoiled food in particular is a major contributor to our global waste problem, which is widely viewed as a climate change catastrophe. 

Staggeringly, the world’s population is estimated to waste one third of all the food it produces. Not only does this put into shameful context the problem of malnourishment seen in the poorest parts of the world, but it also has a massive environmental implication because of unnecessary and inefficient land use.  

However, it is important to consider that in the developing world, food wastage is more a consequence of a lack of robust cold chains as opposed to human wastefulness and consumer habits. In Southern and Southeast Asia, around half of all food waste occurs at storage and distribution stages after harvest and production. In Europe, the figure is closer to 20 percent.

Efficient cold chains–which themselves carry a not insignificant environmental footprint due to energy, diesel and refrigerant gas requirements–are therefore essential to cutting food waste, reducing global hunger and keeping economies and societies supplied with essential goods. 

Indeed, cold chains have been in the spotlight more than usual in recent months thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout occurring across the world. 

Vaccines require an extremely well-monitored transportation and storage environment from the moment they come off the production line to the time they are administered into a patient. If temperatures are too high or too low, the vaccine is in danger of losing its potency which, once lost, cannot be restored. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets strict performance standards for storage and transport equipment such as fridges, freezers, cold rooms and cold boxes, while stock management procedures are also subject to WHO guidelines that vary from vaccine to vaccine. 

In the U.S., mature cold chains are playing a fundamental role in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to populations all over the country, helping them to reach vaccination centers in various environments, from urban epicenters to remote rural communities. 

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several coronavirus vaccines produced by different pharmaceutical companies, among them shots made by Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen. Each requires a different storage temperate, adding an extra layer of complexity to the cold-chain operations responsible for distributing them across the States. 

It is no minor undertaking, reflected by the fact that the worldwide cold chain market was valued at $233.8 billion in 2020, a figure which is predicted to reach more than $340 billion by 2025, driven by a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent. Other estimates suggest the global cold chain industry could be worth as much as $447 billion by this time.

The role of reefer ports

North America’s cold chain market reached a value of $88.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to over $142 billion by 2025.

Underpinning this activity is a network of reefer ports operating up and down the East and West coasts, as well as inland. These are critical transit hubs of varying sizes which house specialist facilities for the storage and onward transportation of cold goods.

In South Carolina, the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is on its way to making the Port of Charleston home of the deepest harbor in the world. 

Set to add an additional seven feet, the new 52-foot depth will enable operator South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports) to welcome enormous post-Panamax vessels to its facilities, a move which will only serve to attract more supply chain players, including those with cold chain operations. 

With more life science and consumer goods activity on the horizon, SC Ports has expanded its refrigerated capacity to handle an influx of cold and frozen cargo for a variety of customers. Since 2010, the port operator’s refrigerated cargo business has increased by more than 80 percent for all loaded containers.

Meanwhile, global refrigerated warehousing giant Lineage Logistics, operator of more than 300 sites around the world, has expanded its 180,000-square-foot facility at Palmetto Commerce Park in northern Charleston. A $34 million investment, it underlines the firm’s commitment to building the region’s status as a critical cold chain hub. 

Unveiling the project in September 2020, Greg Lehmkuhl, Lineage Logistics president and CEO, commented: “Charleston has it all–first-rate infrastructure, great access, a top ranked port and a skilled workforce.

“South Carolina’s numerous business advantages, in addition to the booming market, have helped Lineage to better service our export and import customers, as well as our domestic shipping partners. We are thrilled to expand our existing operations in what we believe is the right location at the right time.”

While Charleston represents one of the largest-scale reefer zones in the country, other areas too are making important strides which are adding to their cold chain appeal. Here, we round up developments at two more ports, starting in the Gulf of Mexico at Port Manatee

Bearing fruit in Florida 

Located at the entrance to Tampa Bay, Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deep water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavy lift, project and general cargo customers. 

It generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impact while helping to sustain more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

In the fiscal year ended September 2020, an all-time high of 88,466 TEUs of containerized cargo crossed Port Manatee’s docks, a marked rise of more than 50 percent on the preceding 12-month period and a whopping 230 percent more than 2018 fiscal year volume. Meanwhile, a $8.3 million project which will nearly double the size of its 10-acre dockside container yard is moving toward mid-2021 completion. 

Another key recent development means that Port Manatee is now receiving imports of Central American fruit via the newest energy-efficient refrigerated container ships of long-time port tenant Fresh Del Monte Produce. 

The vessels, of which there are six, have a full cargo capacity of 1,276 TEUs and are fitted with 634 plugs for 40-foot-long high-cube refrigerated containers, or reefers. 

Announcing the development, Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee, said: “The new Del Monte vessels represent the latest development in the advancement of Port Manatee as Central and Southwest Florida’s preferred gateway for global commerce. 

“Fruits arriving on these ships further add to the record volumes of containerized cargo crossing Port Manatee docks and underscore the importance of key infrastructure enhancements.”

Del Monte has been a loyal customer since 1989, and will take advantage of the new-generation cold chain ships to bring large volumes of fruit to U.S. shores, including bananas, pineapples and avocados.  

From bananas to blueberries 

Switching over to the western side of America, at the Port of Hueneme, a major new development looks set to provide lucrative savings to companies relying on the Southern California facility’s cold-chain services. 

The port moves $10.85 billion in goods each year and consistently ranks among the top 10 U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce, with its operations supporting the surrounding community by catalyzing $1.7 billion of economic activity every year. 

Known as “The Banana Port of the West Coast,” the Port of Hueneme could soon also stand as the most attractive destination for companies exporting and importing blueberries to and from the States. It has housed specialist reefer facilities for many years, but recent upgrades mean it can offer complete treatment of blueberry shipments on-port. 

This new pilot service is the first of its kind on the West Coast and promises to reduce the cost of transporting blueberries, eliminate many tons of greenhouse gases and support local Californian and Peruvian growers.

The new service will begin as a one-year pilot program and will eliminate more than 2.2 million vehicle miles traveled across America. The blueberries will be imported from Peru’s Callao and Paita Ports via the Port of Hueneme, instead of being trucked from the East Coast. This reduction in road mileage will consequently cut air emissions by 3,660 tons of carbon dioxide and 11.56 tons of nitrous oxide during the course of the pilot.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Jess J. Ramirez, president of the Oxnard Harbor District Board that oversees the port, said: “This new opportunity is not only a game changer for our blueberry partners, but also will help reduce air emissions across the U.S. and spur local job creation, a win-win-win.” 

It is pioneering initiatives such as this that will enable cold chain capability and capacity across the U.S. to grow. 

As the nation, and world, responds to a plethora of immediate and long-term crises such as the coronavirus pandemic and growing food waste mountains, cold chains and their associated seaport nodes will only increase their prominence. 

And with the global cold chain market set grow at an annual rate of almost 8 percent over the course of the next four years, ports which continue to invest in reefer facilities look set to cash in. 

market

HONG KONG DRIVES TO CAPTURE THE COLD-CHAIN MARKET

In Hong Kong, where many U.S. businesses send shipments to and receive goods from, a new drive to maximize cold chain opportunities is being realized and embraced.

By leveraging Hong Kong’s unique location to support fruit businesses tapping into the growing mainland Chinese market, fresh produce worth more than US$3 billion is arriving at Hong Kong Seaport Alliance (HKSPA) terminals annually.

Through the deployment of more than 7,800 reefer points, twice the capacity of other terminals in southern China, HKSPA expedites every container of fruit through its facilities to enable the freshest delivery to market. 

American companies shipping fresh fruit produce to the region should bear Hong Kong’s port facilities in mind, especially given Chinese demand for fruit imports is predicted to grow by 55 percent come 2025.

Further adding to Hong Kong’s appeal, HKSPA claims consignees can collect shipments immediately after discharge and be on their way within 15 minutes. Simple, convenient, and fast customs procedures mean Shenzhen is an hour away, while one of the world’s largest fruit-consuming epicenters, Guangzhou’s Jiangnan Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market, is just four hours by road.