As peak season heats up, truck turn times are down at the Port of Long Beach.
The average turn time in May was 78 minutes, a 15 percent improvement over February’s 92 minutes. The median turn time during the month was 63 minutes, down from 74 minutes in February.
It’s a remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when average visits to terminals in San Pedro Bay ports were as high as nearly two hours.
Port CEO Jon Slangerup said Long Beach turn times have come down in part because terminal operators and port staff are focused on innovative ways to process cargo on an efficient and reliable basis.
“The progress we’ve made with truck appointment systems, container ‘peel-off piles,’ near-dock container yards and similar initiatives are just the down payment on the Port’s commitment to continually upgrade needed infrastructure, processes and services,” Slangerup said.
Another key driver moving trucks faster through the Port has been increased availability of chassis since early 2015.
The “street dwell” time for chassis that hold containers has been a significant issue for importers. Every day that a chassis sits idle at a distribution center, waiting to be unloaded before it is returned to the Port, has an adverse impact on the overall availability of chassis at terminals. A year ago, street dwell time averaged five to eight days. Now it’s closer to two or three days.
The Port of Long Beach achieved this by partnering with chassis providers and the Port of Los Angeles to create a “pool of pools” made up of more than 80 percent of the chassis in the combined harbor area.
“Trucks can now pick up and deliver chassis to multiple locations regardless of who owns the equipment,” said Slangerup. “You can really see evidence of the boost to efficiency.”
Another initiative helping turn times is the Middle Harbor megaterminal, which is the most advanced and greenest terminal in the Western Hemisphere. Phase 1 of the all-electric, $1.3 billion facility came online in April.
At Middle Harbor, tandem ship-to-shore cranes pluck two 40-foot containers at a time off vessels. Automated stacking cranes and robotic container transporters interact seamlessly with the terminal’s truck and rail intermodal facilities. With a mandatory truck appointment system in place, drivers using Middle Harbor are experiencing truck turn times of 40 minutes or less, setting the pace for the entire Port.
As Long Beach closes in on a near-term goal of consistent turn times under one hour, Port officials said the improvements for truckers around the harbor are something all involved can be proud of, reflecting a Port-wide effort to increase reliability, efficiency and velocity.