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AMERICA’S LEADING PORTS FROM COAST TO COAST

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AMERICA’S LEADING PORTS FROM COAST TO COAST

What makes a well-functioning port? Let us count the ways. There are a number of factors that contribute to the success of a port. First is location. A port should be in a region with natural resources, access to transportation and enough space for future growth. Second, it should have access to funding through government or private investment. Without this, infrastructure that facilitates the transport of goods can’t be built—tanks, cranes, quays and jetties, for example.

Third, a port should be able to accommodate ships. Does the port provide easy access during low and high tides? How well are the facilities maintained, particularly during flooding, droughts, or in extreme weather? Great ports also have the resources needed to function, including piers, stacking yards, and warehouses. And last, for the ports with an eye toward the future, they should also have access to land that will help with expansion. It will provide easy access to transport—river, rail, road.

A great port is the rare amalgam of art and science—like these leading American ports from coast to coast.

1. Port of New York and New Jersey

With 72 percent of the first port of calls on the East Coast, the Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest in the region. It has contributed to the New York City area becoming an affluent commercial district nationally and globally. The largest port on the East Coast is also the third-largest in the United States.

It supports 400,000 jobs and has generated almost $8.5 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenues. It has facilitated more than 85 million tons of cargo worth more than $211 billion. Its top exports are wood pulp, wood and articles of wood, and plastics. Top imports are beverages, plastic and machinery parts. New York and New Jersey is No. 3 nationally for the total volume of exports, the highest on the East Coast, behind the West Coast ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

2. Ports of Tacoma and Seattle

The Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma—both located in Washington State and jointly operated by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA)—is the fourth-largest container gateway. The NWSA, by way of the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma, also ships bulk, breakbulk, project/heavy-lift cargos and vehicles. These ports provide a gateway for major distribution points in the Midwest, Ohio Valley and East Coast.

The NWSA is also a key trade partner with Asia. International trade generated was worth $75.3 billion in 2017. Domestic trade, which includes routes through Puget Sound on the way to Alaska, generated $5.4 billion in 2015, according to the NWSA. The No. 1 gateway for refrigerated exports, the NWSA ports helped generate more than $4.3 billion in revenue for Washington State.

3. Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles isn’t quite located in the city of Los Angeles but is 25 miles south in the San Pedro Bay. Nonetheless, the Port of LA is the No. 1 container port in the U.S. in terms of cargo volume going in and out of the port. It includes 7,500 acres of land and 43 miles of waterfront. The Port of LA has passenger and cargo terminals that accommodate containers, cruise lines, automobiles, dry and liquid bulk, breakbulk and warehouse stage space.

Also, the No. 1 container port in the Western Hemisphere since 2000, the Port of LA moved more than 9.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2019. The port is currently undergoing a $2.6 billion infrastructural redevelopment project to strengthen its economic arm and cargo efficiency. The gateway for trade with Asia has a diverse array of exports ranging from avocados and zinc.

4. Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach is the No. 2 busiest container seaport in the U.S., which is fitting because it operates in concert with its numero uno neighbor the Port of Los Angeles. Long Beach’s port supports one in five jobs in its city and contributes to $200 billion in trade annually. The port handled more than 8 million TEUs in 2018, its busiest year. Its Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project is pioneering sustainable practices through a 10-year construction program. It will redevelop two older terminals to create a more advanced, greener container terminal.

A western gateway to Asia, the port has more than 90 percent of its shipments bound for East Asian countries. The Port of Long Beach boasts 3,520 acres of land, 4,600 acres of water, 10 piers, 62 berths and 68 post-Panamax gantry cranes. It also handles 82.3 million metric tons of cargo per year.

5. Port of Houston

Houston might not be the first city that comes to mind when you think “international city,” yet the Gulf Coast location serves as a gateway to various countries. That explains why its port is built for international trade—to the point that it’s the No. 1 U.S. port in total foreign waterborne tonnage, with imports and exports combined.

The Port of Houston contributes 20 percent of the GDP for the state of Texas, worth $339 billion. With 69 percent of all U.S. Gulf Coast container traffic, the Port of Houston is the largest container port. It also prioritizes air quality in the local region through the use of alternative fuels and low-emission equipment and vehicles.

6. South Carolina Ports

Here are two winning statistics: the South Carolina Ports boast more crane moves per hour than any other U.S. port (37), and it also exported more than 194,000 vehicles in 2019. Opened in 1942, the South Carolina Ports Authority consists of public maritime terminals at the Port of Charleston, the Port of Georgetown, and inland ports in Dillion and Greer.

Deep channels accommodate vessels up to 48 feet, and ships are two hours sailing distance from open ocean to South Carolina Ports. Turnaround times for trucks at the gates are 23 minutes with nine minutes at the interchange gate. Transportation is also amenable with interstate access within two miles of all South Carolina Ports, and rail access through CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads.

7. Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland waters are 50 feet deep to accommodate vessels that hold capacities of up to 18,000 TEUs. This up-and-coming port has transportation partners that include Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. International accounts for 92 percent of the port’s trade, with 78 percent being with Asia, 11 percent with Europe and 2 percent apiece with Australia/New Zealand and Oceania and other foreign countries. The Port of Oakland is one of the three major container ports in California that account for more than 50 percent of total U.S. cargo volume.

The port contributes to more than 73,000 jobs in the Oakland region, and more than 827,000 in the United States. Growth With Care, a five-year growth plan the port released in 2018, aims to bring in more business, with a goal of 2.6 million TEUs and an 8 percent increase in containerized cargo volume by 2022. Investing in large projects and focusing more on sustainable practices throughout the port are also part of the growth plan.

8. PortMiami

The Port of Miami (a.k.a. PortMiami) is the U.S. container port that is closest to the Panama Canal. It provides global access to Florida and much of the rest of the United States. It’s also the closest East Coast port to Mexico.

More than $1 billion was invested in 2019 to make PortMiami even more accessible globally. It has a deeper dredge to welcome large cargo vessels, and on-port rail provides alternative transportation. The port also has an underwater tunnel that connects to the interstate to keep port traffic off of the highway. PortMiami is located strategically at the nexus of north-south and east-west trade lines.

9. Port of South Louisiana

This 54-mile long port sits at the intersection of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which provides easy distribution for products at the domestic and international levels. The Port of Louisiana has three main interstates that connect to the port. It is also served by six major gas and oil lines, transporting more than 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day.

In 2019, the Port of Louisiana had 3,495 calls from oceangoing vessels, and 54,921 barge calls. The total throughput for the year totaled more than 258 million tons of cargo through vessels and barges. Port of South Louisiana’s Foreign Trade Zone 124 was ranked No. 1 by Merchandise Magazine based on admitted products worth $51.8 billion. The port, which is also ranked No. 1 domestically for total throughput tonnage, boasts the largest grain port in America. Air cargo is accessible through the Louis Armstrong International Airport.

10. Port of Corpus Christi

Operating since 1926, this 36-mile Texas port provides a 47-foot deep channel for domestic and international trade. It provides access through rail and road, connecting to two major interstate highways (37 and 181) and three railroads (BNSF, Kansas City Southern and Union Pacific). It is the third-largest port domestically and No. 2 for crude oil exports.

With a warm climate that allows for easy operation year-round, the Port of Corpus Christi is also a part of the Intracoastal Waterway that stretches from Brownville, Texas, to Boston, Massachusetts, along the Atlantic Coast. The port also implements renewable energy practices by using wind energy for breakbulk and heavy-lift cargo.

11. Port of Mobile

The Port of Mobile carries more than $22.4 billion in economic value to Alabama. The only deepwater port in the state, it sits on the Mobile River. It houses 5 million square feet of warehouse and open-yard space and has a channel depth of 45 feet. Its tonnage in 2018 totaled 26.8 million tons.

Major imports for the Port of Mobile include heavy lift and oversized cargo, containers, coal, aluminum, iron and steel. Major exports include heavy lift and oversized cargo, containers, coal, lumber, and plywood. The port has 1,500 miles of inland and Intracoastal waterways. It serves the Gulf of Mexico, the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys and the Great Lakes. It is owned and operated by the Alabama State Port Authority.

12. Port of Greater Baton Rouge

The Port of Greater Baton Rouge sits where the Mississippi River and Gulf Intercoastal Waterway converge. Its 45-foot shipping channel is upheld by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This port also offers access to intermodal transportation via connections to interstate highways.

The Midwest and other U.S. regions can be accessed through the Port of Baton Rouge’s 15,000 miles of inland waterways. The port also provides access to the Gulf of Mexico, Latin America and the Panama Canal. Its bulk and breakbulk cargo include asphalt, aggregates, limestone, barite, carbon black, coal and coffee.

13. Port of Plaquemines

Twenty miles south of the Port of New Orleans (and also in Louisiana) is the Port of Plaquemines, which boasts of more than 100 miles of deep-draft access, with a minimum of 45 feet. It’s within the same Plaquemines Parish where you will find the unincorporated community of Venice, which supports oil and gas tonnage. Venice has pipelines, petroleum infrastructure and draft wharfage with both deep and shallow water to support vessels carrying oil supply.

The Port of Plaquemines, which can be accessed by 33 U.S. states, has annual tonnage exceeding 55 million tons. Popular imports include coke, carbon black feedstock, crude and fuel oil. Exports include coal, grain-corn, soybean and wheat.

14. Port of Metropolitan St. Louis

That is how the city of St. Louis, Missouri’s port authority refers to the important trade hub in the Midwest. The 70-mile port is the second-largest inland port in the U.S. Its cargoes include grain, coal, chemicals, and petroleum products.

Metro St. Louis is also the 17th largest port in the U.S., with an intermodal transportation system that includes six Class One railroads, seven interstates, and two international airports. It has access to two foreign trade zones and contributes to thousands of jobs in Missouri and Illinois. The Port of Metropolitan St. Louis ships more than 36 tons of freight annually. It has 16 public terminals and more than 130 piers, wharves, docks, and fleeting.

15. Port of Portland

Oregon’s Port of Portland may be on the West Coast, but it is a central trade hub for the Midwest, having shipped more than 4 million tons of grain worldwide in 2017. It has been an auto gateway since 1953, importing and exporting vehicles manufactured by Ford, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda. More than 300,000 automobiles were imported or exported through the Port of Portland’s terminals in 2019.

This port’s intermodal transportation includes rail and interstate highways. With three airports, four terminals, and five business parks, the Port of Portland has also helped generate more than $6.4 billion a year for the region. It has also helped spur the creation of 27,000 jobs and contributes to more than $1.8 billion in wages.

16. Port of Pascagoula

More than 32 million tons of cargo pass through this Southeastern Mississippi port each year. The Port of Pascagoula is Mississippi’s largest seaport. This port provides easy access for shipment through the Gulf of Mexico. Shipping lanes can be accessed within two hours from open ocean, and the channels are 42 feet deep.

The Port of Pascagoula is operated by the Jackson County Port Authority. Popular imports are forest products, crude oil, and chemicals. Exports are forest products, paper products, petroleum products, chemicals and project cargo. It ranks No. 23 in total trade—domestic plus international—with a volume of 27 million tons in 2018, according to statistics from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Each of these ports fulfills different factors that help them to successfully function in their respective regions. Whether it’s the depth of the channels to allow for varying size ships to dock or easy access to transportation, these ports help to facilitate domestic and international trade. In turn, they help spur the creation of jobs and stronger local, state and national economies. Overall, these ports are helping to shape the United States economy for the better—one import, one export, at a time.

The Relationship Between Technology & Intermodal Capacity

In a world where operations don’t have an option to slow down, capacity concerns are issues that will always be a burden in the back of any operator’s mind. Whether you’re running a rail, port or even distribution center, capacity options are vital to keeping operations running–and efficiently. The last thing you want to see is a competitor taking the business you could’ve easily handled, but didn’t, all due to capacity restraints. Even worse, capacity restraints you didn’t anticipate, leaving your company seeming to look unprepared. Not only that, it ultimately tells prospective, lifelong customers that proactivity doesn’t exist in the company strategy and day-to-day operations. Proactivity is equally important as visibility.

These two features are complementing elements to operational success, but it’s nearly impossible to tap into their potential the old-fashioned way. The good news is there are options in the form of technology and innovation that stay one step ahead of you–meaning you have a system completely capable of updating you on what’s going on and what needs to be addressed, all at the click of a button while taking the stress off you. Insight given from leaders in transportation all share a common theme: visibility is key.

“There is not any difference in the requirements for [handling] truckload versus intermodal in today’s market,” InTek Freight and Logistics President Shelli Austin recently told Intermodal Insights. “It’s now falling into the need for visibility and on-time service. Before, it was the deferred ‘it will get there when it gets there’ type of freight. All successful 3PLs need to have the same real-time information for intermodal that they do for [over-the-road] freight.”

“3PLs are being asked to do more multi-leg management, particularly of drayage at both origin and destination,” says Tommy Barnes, president of project44, which bills itself as the world’s leading advanced visibility platform for 3PLs and shippers. “It is a little bit harder, but they are providing a lot more value to customers.”

Automation continues to make news headlines with its unmatched ability to seamlessly connect almost every aspect of each industry, including intermodal transportation. The main takeaway from automation integration is the level of visibility and connectivity provided among workers and companies that partner for the bigger picture. This shows customers the level of expertise and preparedness your company provides for their needs, ultimately creating competitive advantage and ensuring business keeps moving. The theme of the solution in demand is an increase in more accurate information.

“The key technology for the intermodal product is the ability to capture real-time drayage information at pickup and delivery,” Austin noted in the article. “It is easy to get the information once the container is in the possession of the rail lines. The challenge is grabbing the information from all the different truckers that can and will be used to create capacity for these moves.”

With that being said, blockchain technology continues to provide the solutions, information and visibility necessary for providers and terminal operators to ensure the measures needed are in place to avoid operational hiccups such as terminal overload and miscommunication.

More recently, Kalmar Global announced how it would provide its SmartPower rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) to Norfolk Southern in an effort to extend capacity efforts through its integrated system.

Norfolk serves as a transportation industry leader, boasting 19,500 route miles in 23 states. The company can also brag about an extensive network at every major container port in the eastern United States. Kalmar’s SmartPower RTGs were specifically chosen to improve capacity at Norfolk’s intermodal terminals in Chicago and Rossville in Memphis, Tennessee.

“We are very pleased to be able to continue our collaboration with Norfolk Southern and to support them with the optimization of their intermodal operations,” says Troy Thompson, vice president of Sales at Kalmar Americas. “The proven Kalmar SmartPower RTG provides the perfect balance between productivity and cost efficiency in a variety of container-handling applications.”

Whether it’s partnering with a company that knows what it takes to keep capacity issues minimal or implementing a technology platform—or both—the bottom line is to ensure visibility, ability and operations are not compromised. In a C.H. Robinson blog, author Phil Shook, the director of Intermodal, explains that intermodal shipping will play a role in driving business growth for American railroads, citing that “the 70 intermodal ramps continue to expand.” With this expansion will nonetheless come capacity concerns, providing even more of a reason to invest in automated technology that can keep up with rapid expansion and demand without falling behind.

In his post, Shook makes a fantastic consideration by adding that, “Knowing exactly where a shipment is in transit has quickly become the expectation rather than exception. Companies and consumers expect near real-time notifications about every step of a product’s journey—including facility and town names. And just like the truckload sector, intermodal providers are working hard to deliver.”

This snippet from his blog reiterates the need for an uncompromising level of knowledge from when and where the next load is going. Because the market and its ever-evolving nature continues more demand, it’s imperative to invest in an all-in-one transportation management system that goes beyond what an average TMS provides. Why? Your business simply cannot afford to not have a reliable TMS in place. If you’re lucky enough to find a provider that can not only provide a robust TMS but also integrate new levels of technology, even better, albeit difficult to come across.

Beyond your company’s terminal capacity management, technology integration is now the new standard to global operations. Customer demands will continue to rise, at times becoming more complex and challenging than before. Consider the missing elements in your operations strategy that ultimately hinder providing the very best to customers. Additionally, don’t forget to thoroughly educate and inform employees of changes to come, showing them how to work smarter and not harder. Through this level of anticipation, proactivity and integration, you will foster an environment that motivates instead of overwhelming.

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HOW TO BE AN INTERMODAL SHIPPER OF CHOICE

Fluctuating capacity and freight rates along with increased focus on efficiency and sustainability have led to substantial growth in the intermodal market in recent years. As more companies now compete for intermodal capacity at competitive rates, it is important for shippers to set themselves apart from the competition by being attractive partners to their intermodal carriers. 

By being a “shipper of choice” and implementing flexible and efficient practices, companies can build collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships with their intermodal carriers. This better positions them to secure capacity at stable, competitive pricing and enhance service levels and improve overall performance. 

Why It’s Important to be an “Intermodal Shipper of Choice” 

While being a “shipper of choice” has been a hot topic in recent years, the focus has primarily been placed on over-the-road shipping. And while there are many similarities between the two modes, there are also some nuances that must be considered to be an “intermodal shipper of choice” in particular. 

First, because loads are tied to the equipment instead of to an individual driver, there must be an equal (if not greater) focus on equipment management and efficiency in addition to driver efficiency. By placing equal focus on implementing “carrier-friendly” tactics for intermodal freight, shippers can strengthen carrier relationships and better control costs. This, in turn, ensures enhanced intermodal service performance–increasing the ROI of utilizing the mode.

Here are some strategies organizations can use to become an intermodal shipper of choice:

Engage in annual renewals with incumbent carriers rather than annual RFPs. While annual RFPs can yield savings, they also increase uncertainty and risk for both shippers and carriers. By focusing on long-term commitments with incumbent carriers through annual renewals, shippers and their core carriers can continuously foster a relationship of mutual trust and ongoing success. Through this relationship, the carrier and its drivers become intimately familiar with the shipper’s network, freight and business, and the shipper gets to know the carrier’s operations and the drivers responsible for picking up and delivering their loads.

Accurately forecast freight volumes. The ability to forecast freight volumes and seasonal swings allows shippers and carriers to proactively plan (and reposition) equipment and drivers to provide adequate capacity. Sharing this information not only helps provide more consistent service but can be beneficial for both sides on an ongoing basis. 

Consistent freight volumes. Having consistent volume spread out throughout the week, month or year makes appointment scheduling and equipment planning easier for the carrier. And if shippers do ship heavier at certain times, it is important to set and manage expectations with carriers. 

Equipment pool requirements in line with volume. Pool requirements that are in line with volume allow shippers to turn boxes on a regular basis and keep loads moving at a consistent pace. This helps maximize equipment utilization while minimizing equipment costs.

Inbound and outbound volume. Setting consistent inbound and outbound volume out of facilities allows drivers to pick up loads immediately following a drop-off. This reduces empty miles and improves both driver and equipment utilization. These efficiencies will ultimately result in better rates from carriers. 

Utilize drop and hook freight capabilities. Drivers want to be able to get in and out of a facility in an efficient manner, at any time. Drop and hook freight capabilities create load flexibility, reducing congestion in the yard and maximizing driver utilization by minimizing detention time. 

Flexible pick-up and delivery appointments. For customers that require pick-up and delivery appointments, it is important to make them as flexible as possible. This drives further efficiencies for both the carrier and the shipper.

Reasonable payment terms. Shippers should have timely freight payment terms (often 30 days or fewer) and keep to those terms. It is also important to have a system in place to quickly resolve any discrepancies.

Provide driver amenities at the facilities. By providing driver amenities at their facilities (such as bathrooms or waiting lounges), shippers help make the pick-up and delivery process easier and more comfortable. These simple comforts show that the shipper views the carrier (and its drivers) as a valuable part of their operations versus a commodity. 

Utilize facilities in close proximity to intermodal terminals. Facilities that are located near intermodal rail terminals allow rail to be a more competitive option for a shipper. While this is not always possible, shippers looking to build new facilities should consider placing them near rail ramps in order to take advantage of more intermodal opportunities. 

Intermodal Presents Significant Opportunity for Shippers

Intermodal continues to be a cost-effective, efficient and sustainable way to move freight and should be a key piece of any strategic modal mix. And as more shippers compete for capacity and competitive rates, it’s important for shippers to best position themselves to be attractive partners to intermodal carriers. This will allow them to better take advantage of intermodal while helping to control costs and enhance service performance. 

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Doug Punzel is president of Celtic Intermodal, Transplace’s intermodal business unit. David Marsh serves as Celtic Intermodal’s chief operating officer and helps oversee all daily operations. 

Topics of discussion included: terminal overload and new technologies to increase throughput; tightened trucking capacity; needs of shippers and adaptive change in the supply chain

IANA Intermodal Expo 2018: Key takeaways and discussion topics

Beautiful Long Beach, California was the setting for IANA’s (Intermodal Association of North America) annual expo, the IANA Intermodal Expo 2018. Over 2,000 representatives from the intermodal and transportation communities touched down to present, converse, debate and exchange ideas surrounding trends and issues shaping the future of the larger intermodal supply chain community.

We had the pleasure of exhibiting and attending with those 2,000 plus attendees, and this year’s expo was chalk full of over 60 industry experts and a staggering 125 plus exhibitors showcasing some of the most technologically advanced products and services the intermodal industry has seen.

Day 1:

The morning of Day 1 kicked off with Bill Strauss, senior economist and adviser with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Mr. Strauss managed to bring an initial, collective smile to the room, noting that the 2018 expo is meeting at a time of strong economic growth. Consumer spending and GDP are up, the economy has been growing at an average annual rate of 2.3 percent (since 2009), and if this continues through July of next year new records will likely be reached.

The intermodal industry numbers support Mr. Strauss, as intermodal volumes were up 7 percent (as of August 2018) compared to last year with the third-party logistics sector also expanding – global estimates peg the market to reach $968 billion this year, compared to $869 billion last year.

IANA is a “connecting force” for the intermodal freight sector, bringing together the most relevant (and up and coming) players via the creation of spaces, such as the Intermodal Expo, to stay informed, drive industry success and strengthen the broader community. IANA members count on a wealth of resources, but most important, access to relevant trends that are shaping the sector at breakneck speeds.

Day 2:

A handful of truly remarkable innovations were on-hand at this year’s expo. A recurring issue year in and year out is terminal overload. Moderated by Taso Zografos, Principal at ZDEVCO, the panel, “Intermodal Terminal Overload: How Can Technology Help?” brought together a handful of expert panelists on the issue where autonomous vehicles, automated stacking cranes and similar “smart equipment” was presented. Warehouses, marine terminals and rail ramps are fantastic for “smart equipment” due to little vehicle traffic and confined areas. The next challenge however will be rolling this out to harbor drayage and the open road. As Wade Long, regional vice president of Volvo Trucks astutely noted, heavy-duty diesel trucks, many operated by living, breathing drivers, will still be around for at least the next 50 years.

Another recurring theme throughout the two-day event was productivity, especially in a time of truck driver shortages. This has been a troubling point for some time, where a shortage of drivers produces bottlenecks throughout the supply chain thus hampering productivity at a macro level. Larry Gross, president of Gross Transportation Consulting, moderated an engaging panel surrounding this very issue. Driver productivity has been on the decline, and Phil Shook, director of intermodal for C.H. Robinson, communicated it best noting that the industry standard used to be 500 miles per driver, and that has now dipped into the 400s. The room agreed that getting an extra half-a-load per driver per day is the proverbial Holy Grail.

Next year’s expo will be held September 15-17, 2019 in that same jewel beside the bay – Long Beach, California. Pack your swim-trunks, this is an expo you don’t want to miss! Register to exhibit before space fills up or if you are just looking to attend, registration opens up in March of 2019.