US Ports Employ Strategies for Peak Season

port congestion

Due to this unprecedented peak season, congestion, tight capacity, and limited equipment are daily at U.S ports on the East and West Coast. The statistics do not lie, and here is what they show.

– The Port of Charleston handled 479,509 TEUs, up 24% from the same time a year ago. Container volumes are up 12% year-over-year.

– The Port of Long Beach moved 807,704 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container cargo last month, an 11.3% increase compared to August 2020. 

– The Port of Virginia processed more than 293,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in July. Total volume through the port rose nearly 33% year-over-year.

– The Port of Savannah handled 450,000 TEUs in July, up 25% year-over-year.

– The Port of Oakland’s containerized trade volume reached record levels in the first quarter of 2021, equaling 631,119 20-foot containers. 

– The Port of New York / New Jersey moved a total volume of 758,810 TEUs in July, representing a 25.9% increase versus the 607,463 TEUs (342,124 containers) recorded in July 2020.

With these drastic increases in volumes, Port Authorities across the country are employing different strategies to improve operations, with many leaning heavily on technological investments.

Below are a few examples of these strategies, as highlighted in Industry Publications. 

L.A. / Long Beach takes New Measures to Speed Cargo Throughput

Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles announced new measures to reduce delays through the ports during these busy times. The most important is that both ports will expand the hours in which trucks can pick up and return containers. Therefore, Long Beach Port will maximize nighttime operations and, Los Angeles Port will increase weekend operating gate hours. 

“I thank Directors Cordero (Mario Cordero, from Long Beach Port) and Seroka (Gene Seroka, from Los Angeles Port) for their leadership and all of the men and women who have helped meet the challenge of moving extraordinary cargo volumes during a global pandemic,” said John Porcari, the Ports Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions.

According to a recent press release, both ports are critical gateways to the U.S. economy. Approximately 70% of all U.S.-international trade by tonnage moves by water through the nation’s ports. Their help is expected to be significant during this peak season. 

In addition to the above, truckers at the Port of Long Beach can be up to date about road traffic conditions via text message. The Truck Alert is the new free system designed to decrease traffic congestion on the West Coast.  

According to Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, “Truck Alert is designed to reduce road congestion by providing truck drivers an opportunity to improve scheduling and enhance turn-times during the unprecedented cargo surge we are experiencing.”

The Truck Alert offers technology and real-time data for truckers to avoid traffic. To subscribe to this service, the drivers only have to text the word: “TruckAlert” to 79516, and, once signed up; they will begin to receive alerts on the phone about crashes, road closures, and other port conditions. In addition, the system sends suggestions about alternative routes. 


South Carolina Ports with A berth-planning software

With the help of the technology provider Portchain, the terminals migrate to a cloud-based tool planned to expand the preparation horizon from two days before a vessel arrives at up to 14 days.

“With Portchain, we will deploy the latest cloud technology to digitize and improve vessel operation planning and create a distinctive customer experience by connecting all stakeholders to the multi-terminal berth plan in real-time,” Joel Britt, SCPA’s senior director of operations, express.

Portchain’s Berth Optimization Engine is a product that helps make more accurate predictions by reconciling gaps in pro forma sailing schedule data.


Rail transportation: the current solution for Savannah port.

Griff Lynch, CEO of the Georgia Ports Authority, urges shippers to consider using Garden City’s on-dock intermodal rail facility to get containers out of the terminal, which would not require a chassis. 

“We’re already talking to customers about using more rail because there is a lot of cargo being trucked to locations that can be done on the rail. It’s certainly something we could use more of and that would help flush cargo out,” Lynch said.

In addition, the GPA is working to open a 60-acre lot to create an additional 600,000 TEU of annual container capacity. The construction will be ready until October or November.