The container ports with the speediest turnaround times are, by definition, the ones with either the most efficient gates and cargo-loading programs or those with the least amount of daily container volume, reducing the length of the lines.
Even the most efficient ports can be stymied when two or more huge ships arrive for unloading on the same day with similar sailing schedules, especially when trucks are compelled to pass through the same gate system to enter and depart. The fastest turnaround times, then, can be expected at ports with only one container terminal and one security gate, or at major ports where congestion has been reduced by improved traffic flow or where separate access is provided to each terminal.
The Georgia Port Authority, which operates the Port of Savannah, shares this endorsement from Reade Kidd, director of International Logistics for Home Depot, in its marketing campaign: “Georgia Ports Authority has been able to provide a single terminal in one location that allows us to go in and out of one spot—regardless of the carrier, regardless of the chassis, regardless of the dray provider—to come out in one seamless move. That sort of forward thinking by the Georgia Ports Authority has really provided us the opportunity to have that seamless execution. I’d probably call it best in class as it relates to turn times and our drivers being able to come in and out in a pretty rapid manner.”
JAXPORT says more than 100 trucking and drayage firms operate in and around its port to take advantage of the city’s highway system, anchored by I-95, I-10 and I-75. Truck turn times at JAXPORT’s container terminals average 23 minutes for two moves, the port says.
F. Brooks Royster III, president of MTC Logistics, a Baltimore-based refrigerated and frozen warehousing company, ships from major ports along the northeast coast. He says, “By far Baltimore has the fastest turn times. New York and New Jersey and Norfolk have real problems with access, but Baltimore has things moving well.”
The Port of Charleston claims 30-minute turnaround times, attributing the improvement to properly staffed gates, better lift equipment and better skilled stevedores at its terminals. Royster agrees.
At Port Everglades, traffic flow was a problem until the port’s roads were redesigned with easy merge to and from the container terminals. Now the port says that with the completion of the Eller Drive overpass there is only one traffic light between the port and Los Angeles.
PortMiami is a showcase for traffic improvement as it prepares for the challenges of Super-Post Panamax cargo ships that will capitalize on the advantage of a newly deep-dredged channel. All the container terminal gates have been redesigned and modernized to ease the flow. A Florida East Coast rail spur connecting the port to an in-shore, multi-modal terminal is operational, helping reduce truck traffic—and so is the Miami Tunnel which connects the port’s terminals to the Interstate highway system, improving truck traffic flow by at least 50 percent over the previous one-road access system.