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            march 25, 2019

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Los Angeles, Long Beach ports tackle 'chassis dislocation' for truckers


Shippers and truckers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are increasingly being urged to return empty containers to terminals different from where they picked up an import load, while having to deal with a shortage of chassis at some facilities, Shipping Gazette reported.
Port of Long Beach chief operating officer Noel Hacegaba said half of all empty containers are directed by the ocean carriers to be returned to a terminal different from where it was picked up.
"That has downstream effects on the chassis," he explained since truckers often leave the chassis attached to the empty container they have returned rather than continue to pay for an extra day's lease of a chassis, reported American Shipper.
Mr Hacegaba attributed the problems to a number of factors including this year's earlier-than-usual peak season, changes to transpacific vessel services, the use of "extra loaders" and even vessel bunching caused by bad weather (fog at ports) earlier this year in Asia.
"The marine terminals, the railroads, the trucking companies - they all plan their equipment around the vessel call schedules," Mr Hacegaba said. "When those change either through consolidation of vessel service or through a blank sailing, or through additional loaders, that has a tendency to disrupt the entire system, and I think that is probably what we have seen in recent months."
Mr Hacegaba said the port of Long Beach held a meeting last week to learn more about the reported chassis shortages and to discuss ways to improve availability and fluidity. Chassis shortages are not universal, he said, and there are varying degrees of effects on terminals and different conditions on different days.
"What's happening more and more is the ocean carriers are making decisions solely based on getting their ships turned very quickly," said Harbour Trucking Association CEO Weston LaBar.
"The other big issue is that truckers who try to do a dual transaction (that is, return an empty container and pick-up an empty container) are taking a risk in many cases because if the empty gets cut off mid-shift, they are in jeopardy of missing their appointments," said Mr LaBar. "This is driving down trucker productivity."
The Pool of Pools (PoP) - the joint chassis pool formed by FlexiVan, Direct ChassisLink and TRAC Intermodal in Southern California - says that in September, 54.7 per cent of containers were returned to a different terminal than where they originated.
"The impact is imbalance of chassis and forces repositioning, increases demand on drayage providers, creates delays in meeting the demands of terminals and negatively impacts the environment. 'Chassis dislocation' and equipment imbalance is an ever-increasing problem within the ports of LA and LB," said PoP.
In September 12,076 chassis were required to be relocated to terminals as requested by terminal operators. In the first nine months of the year, 110,000 chassis have been relocated.
"Annually, the costs total US$13 million just for the drayage alone," PoP said. "Add to this the management expense, cost of idled asset days and operational expenses incurred by all stakeholders."

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