Tag Archives: container shipping

Work resumes at LA/LB ports, but contract settlement stays out of reach

There’s no labor agreement in sight for West Coast ports. And recently there have been short unannounced work stoppages by the unions.

I’m thinking these work stoppages are trial balloons. The major union at the ports, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), may be trying to gauge the impact of a stoppage on the ports. We all know that the ocean shipping market is weak, and in addition quite a bit of container traffic has moved away from the West Coast ports, to the East Coast. So volumes are down at the West Coast ports.

It’s possible that cargo volumes are so light that a full strike will jeopardize the ports’ business. A sizeable reduction in container traffic would reduce the demand for longshoremen and union workers. They don’t want to kill the golden goose. A mini-trial would tell them whether the ports would be severely hurt by a strike. Otherwise the ports might say “Go ahead and strike!”

I think that is why the US government is loath to intervene yet. Continuing to negotiate might be the best way to get an outcome everyone can live with.

Ian Putzger, Americas Correspondent 11/04/2023

Work resumes at LA/LB ports, but contract settlement stays out of reach – The Loadstar

Consolidated Chassis Management Prepares for SACP 3.0 Launch with New Office

Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM), a leading cooperative chassis pool manager, announced it has opened a new, expanded office in Savannah, GA, to accommodate the growing South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP) 3.0 team. Launching in October 2023, SACP 3.0 will offer a new chassis provisioning solution that utilizes a single provider pool model.

Chassis pools have made a big difference in the availability of chassis for containers. Pooling chassis is a standard way of covering a varying demand with a lower investment in inventory. If the maintenance is performed to a good standard, the pools will be popular with drivers, because of the standardized agreements for pickup and dropoff.

According to CCM’s CEO Mike Wilson, “SACP 3.0 will revolutionize chassis provisioning in the United States.As we get closer to launch, we are building our teams, expanding our office space and enhancing CIT, our fleet management platform — all to provide the support necessary to ensure SACP 3.0 reaches its full potential.”

With more than 75 sites across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, SACP 3.0 will continue to be the nation’s largest fully interoperable chassis pool. It will increase and upgrade the existing South Atlantic Chassis Pool with new and refurbished intermodal chassis from major regional port and key intermodal inland hubs.

The South Atlantic region has been a productive location for a chassis pool, with the serious expansion of service to these areas by major container shipping lines. Pools have also played a role on the West Coast at Los Angeles/Long Beach.

SACP 3.0 will transition from the current multi-contributor chassis pool to a single provider utility
type pool, and it will offer over 50,000 chassis to truckers, beneficial cargo owners, ocean
carriers and other port users. The pool is being established cooperatively by The Ocean Carrier
Equipment Management Association (OCEMA), Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), Jacksonville
Port Authority (JaxPort), North Carolina State Ports Authority (NC Ports) and Consolidated
Chassis Management LLC (CCM).

“We are committed to ensuring SACP delivers on its promise, so we will continue to build in our
team and make investments that deepen our presence in the Southeast. The new office is not
only larger, but it is also more conveniently located, bringing us closer to GPA as well as other
members of the supply chain community, including steamship lines and BCO’s,” said Mr.

Some years ago the ocean carriers decided to divest themselves of chassis in the US. They claimed to do this because of American laws that made chassis owners responsible for damage from accidents where they were found to participate in the fault. These liability laws were seen as threats to the liner firms. So CCM was created. As you can see, while independent, it’s related to the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, which is closely allied to the ocean carriers. It’s a liability shifting scheme.

The fact is, ocean carriers must be able to provide chassis for their customers. In the US, it’s not a good business decision for truckers and trucking firms to own their chassis. Customers have different needs, and the chassis has to be chosen for the specific load. A study showed that with economic conditions in the US, a trucker would need to have 90% confidence that customers would want a chassis, to afford owning it. The fraction is nowhere near that.

So the pools and CCA help fulfill that function. It’s a good strategy, and results in considerable savings. I’m glad to see that it is taking off in the Southland of the US.

Liability is also related to maintenance. If maintenance is high quality, a trucker will pick up a good chassis that is not likely to fail on her route. The trucker must bear the immediate expense of a repair on the route, which delays her cash flow. The pool offers a chance for high-quality maintenance. In California, the pools established near LA/Long Beach were required to hire union mechanics, which may have improved the quality of the maintenance. With the CCA pools there is a specific firm to hold responsible for maintaining the chassis.

DPW to deploy first Boxbay stacking system at Pusan Newport

Here’s an innovation that’s going to be popular at container terminals. It’s a fixed set of frames allowing containers to be stacked in individual pigeonholes. They’re placed and removed by stacker cranes running through the aisles. The system has been in development and testing since 2018.

Hardware innovations take a long time to develop, and they require a place for testing. The partnership of DP World and SMS Group, a German firm, combined the expertise and the need and test bed to create the product.

Stacking density may be improved up to 4 times using the Boxbay system.

This is not a new idea. Auto manufacturers and shippers have been using such arrays to store cars since the 90’s. I was shown a picture of one in Japan by Ernest Konigsberg, a Berkeley operations research professor who was familiar with the design and the optimizing software written to decide which locations to place vehicles. We would call it AI today, but then it was simply optimization software. It’s been around a long time.

An interesting question is why this technology is only emerging now. One answer is the Great Congestion about the time of the COVID epidemic. Yard storage was a significant problem during the supply chain crisis. This kind of system can improve the utilization of scarce container yard land. It’s a natural type of tech to invest in.

I’m sure we will see more such systems if container shipping demand comes back and exceeds the congestion period levels. But if ports aren’t handling so many containers, they may not be so eager to invest in this technology. I don’t see the large US ports jumping on this so soon, with traffic falling.

The article has a nice picture of Pusan Newport terminal, and judging by the stacking disarray in the right part of the picture, they can use this system1

By Nick Savvides 08/03/2023

DPW to deploy first Boxbay stacking system at Pusan Newport – The Loadstar