THE ports of New York and New Jersey are determined to untangle the knot of truck chassis ownership and responsibility to tackle the problem of worsening port and terminal productivity.
New York/New Jersey has taken a stern business approach, coupled with community involvement, to get more action into shifting cargo between vessel, truck and railway, reports the UK's Port Strategy.
The Council on Port Performance includes staff, terminal operators, industry associations, truckers, civic leaders and railway companies. Split into "core teams" responsible for specific aspects, the committees are drawing up separate timelines for action.
"We quickly came to the conclusion that there are problems that not any one entity can fix," said port commerce department director Rick Larrabee.
The most important and basic problem is sorting out tangled chassis positioning and transfers. "It's our biggest issue and without solving that, many of the other problems will not be solved," said Mr Larrabee.
Just how many chassis units there are is unknown, as is the number at each port. NY/NJ depends heavily on chassis. The result is that arriving trucks must wait for units, leading to congestion.
Container dwell times reached a peak of eight days in January worsened by winter conditions.
To get a better throughput, more dockers are needed, with a target of 682, of which 325 have so far been hired, a process held up by the New York Waterfront Commission's gender and racial diversity campaign.
Key performance indicators come into the equation. "We have drawn up three or four indicators, such as dwell time, total imports at berth and total turns at the gate.
"But, remembering that we are a landlord port, we have to be careful how we use and share the information to avoid the possibility of a tenant getting an unfair advantage. So there are considerations such as whether we gather the information in aggregate form or by each terminal.
"The essential aim is to help improve the system rather than by imposing penalties."
Bound up with this is how to use the data gained from RFID tags that have been fitted to almost 17,000 vehicles serving the docks.
An appointment system is being considered for delivery and collection of containers. "But as the truckers note, this is not going to work without a pre-arrival system at the gates and that is the last step in the process," said Mr Larrabee.
The strategic growth plan is to concentrate more on rail, with US$700 million having been spent to improve facilities, and lure more discretionary cargo.
Road transport accounts for 85 per cent of traffic. "The market at the moment is within 200 miles of here," said Mr Larrabee. "We want to look as far away as Chicago and short-line rail, to areas such as Pennsylvania, will become more important."
LNG is being watched as a growth area. "It will be gradual, starting with facilities for vehicles, moving to harbour vessels and then possibly supply points for ocean vessels."
Source : SN-TR, 08.10.14.