Port of Long Beach addresses drayage concerns at IAPH

For port authorities worldwide, drayage is an ever-present challenge and cost center.

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Members of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) were given an overview of the innovative new developments in shared container chassis last week.

For port authorities worldwide, drayage is an ever-present challenge and cost center.

J. Christopher Lytle, Executive Director Port of Long Beach, was among the speakers on the panel, Development in Trucking Logistics.”

“The question we have in Southern California, and in many other US. Ports is ‘what’s the best most-efficient model for chassis management?’” said Lytle. “Chassis are all alike, but the current ownership system restricts sharing. We’d like to see that changed.”

Lytle noted that Sea-Land, formerly a trucking company, was the first ocean carrier to own chassis. Other players followed, until each carrier had its own fleet.

But this inventory burden created new problems for shipping lines, as they were not able to concentrate on their primary goal: to move freight on the water. To date, there are more than 100,000 chassis at the Port of Long Beach, with 14 container terminals being served by more than 11,000 drayage vehicles. 

“A coalition of stakeholders comprising terminal operators, truckers, railroads, and ocean carriers are trying to address this problem,” said Lytle. “We are all in agreement that this asset-based arrangement is not serving the BCO’s (beneficial cargo owners).”


The solution, he said is the establish a “gray chassis fleet” with 100 percent interoperability…where any chassis works for any transaction.

“This would move chassis storage and upkeep away from the marine terminals, and make a lot more land available for other more productive purposes,” he said. “So far, we getting a lot of valuable input from the chassis community on how to proceed.”
One suggestion, said Lytle, was to create “benchmarking” with existing gray fleets and chassis-leasing companies. As a consequence, the port has issued an RFP for project management services.

“We don’t know yet what kind of skill set will be required for the firm charged with this responsibility,” he said. “But it will certainly require a variety of solutions to solve the problem.”

The questions yet to be addressed include:

*What would a “gray fleet” model for multiple operators look like?
*How would a “gray fleet” be managed, and who would do it?
*Who should own chassis?
*Where should chassis be based?

According to Lytle, many port authorities feel that chassis operations should be moved to centralized yards where they can be both inspected and maintained.

“We are now looking into hiring a facilitator to develop concepts for this,” he said, “and we expect to arrive at a decision by the end of this year.”

Donald B. Snyder is the Director of Trade Development for the Port of Long Beach, told LM in subsequent interview that such a solution would also be “greener.”

“Obviously, there would be fewer truck moves, and that will only contribute to the port’s efforts to have cleaner air,” he said.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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