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OCR for page 75
Marine Terminal Container Yard Congestion 75 As delivery of import containers fell farther behind, import customers became more insistent on retrieving the highest priority containers, thus reducing the drayage firms' flexibility. Ocean Carrier Tenant Shifts Occasionally, ocean carriers change terminals. This may occur when a new terminal becomes available, when a carrier changes consortium or vessel sharing partners, or for a variety of other operational or financial reasons. At a minimum, a shift will lead to a brief period of confusion as drivers who had not previ- ously served that terminal learn the system, ocean carrier staff establish operations there, and equipment is repositioned (remember that at any given time, a substantial part of the container and chassis inventory may be in the hands of drayage drivers or customers). The shift will go rel- atively smoothly, if the new terminal has ample capacity and similar management and systems. More serious disruptions can occur when the terminal is not adequately prepared for the new client line or the trade volume. The immediate symptoms of the problem will be long turn times and very long gate queues. In some cases, these lines have caused the port authority to change the traffic patterns around the marine terminal, blocked access to neighboring freight facilities, and forced port police to send draymen away from the terminal. The terminal often responds by working longer hours, adding special gates to increase capac- ity, and adding remote parking facilities for loads and empties to increase CY capacity. Longer working hours are a temporary measure that cannot be sustained without a long-term increase in the workforce. Remote lots create additional work. Planning and Communication The logical antidote to poorly planned or poorly understood changes is better planning and communication, a theme echoed in other sections of the guidebook. The ongoing port commu- nity meetings cited as best practices are a potential vehicle for informing the relevant stakehold- ers regarding upcoming changes and obtaining feedback. Container Yard Solutions Drayage firms and drivers have a long-standing--and apparently valid--complaint that all other terminal processes slow or stop when terminals divert available resources to serve a vessel, partic- ularly if that vessel is late. This study did not attempt to prescribe changes in terminal operations or resources. It is clear, however, that ocean carriers and terminals that economize by having only enough resources to accomplish part of the overall transportation task simultaneously are doing their customers a disservice in the long run. One promising approach is to design the terminal so truck and vessel operations do not over- lap or share equipment. The APM Portsmouth terminal and the proposed Ports America termi- nal for Oakland are examples of designs with container stacks perpendicular to the vessel. These stacks are served by one set of gantries to load and unload the vessel from the berth end, and by a second set of gantries to load and unload drayage trucks on the CY end. Such large-scale investment and reconfiguration is beyond the short-term need and capabil- ity of most port terminals. A more modest means of improvement would be to ensure enough lift equipment and staffing to handle both vessels and trucks in existing configurations. It is likely that this kind of marine terminal staffing commitment will only come as shippers and receivers work actively with the stakeholders to address drayage turn time costs.