To increase the velocity of cargo moving out of the Port of Long Beach, officials are considering a reduction in the amount of time import containers can be stored on docks without charge.
Port officials are proposing changing free time to six shifts, the equivalent of as few as three days, to encourage terminals to more consistently operate at night, moving imports off the docks faster.
Noel Hacegaba, CCO of the Port of Long Beach, said: “Truckers have told us their containers are not always accessible because of fewer evening shifts, and terminal operators want to clear space in their yards while giving their customers enough time to get their cargo.
“Our idea, ‘flexible free time,’ is an innovative use of the tools we have to balance those needs.”
Read a Technical Paper on how Long Beach overcame port congestion
Jon Slangerup, CEO of the Port of Long Beach, said: “When containers stack up in terminals, it leads to extra handling that makes the process slower for longshore workers, the shippers that depend on them, truckers who move the goods, and ultimately the consumer. This approach will keep the system more fluid and help avoid congestion.”
Since 2005, the length of time containers can stay on the dock, called ‘free time’, has been four days. Beyond that, terminals are charged storage fees. With larger vessels calling on the port regularly, there are more containers at terminals, inhibiting the ability of workers to deliver containers quickly and efficiently.
In the coming weeks, port staff will work with all stakeholders to develop a final plan that will be proposed to the Board of Harbor Commissioners for consideration.
The port recently saw an increase in TEU volumes for three consecutive months, marking a strong recovery over the congestion that was intensified by the labour strikes in early 2015.
It is also encouraging more women to pursue careers in the shipping industry in order to show that they can make a difference in the sector.