PRODUCTIVITY…LET’S TALK APPLES TO APPLES

Port of Oakland expansionWhen we talk about terminal productivity, we are talking about yard and gate operations, meaning how quickly we can get a driver in and out of the terminal. When terminal operators and ocean carriers talk about terminal productivity, they are talking about vessel operations, that is how quickly they can work a vessel, get containers discharged/loaded and get the ship back out to sea.

In Oakland, and around the country, we have been plagued by poor terminal productivity…our type of productivity…the one that ties our hands and disables us from getting drivers turned and containers picked up and delivered. We have discussed this issue in our monthly newsletters for the past year. The delays. The congestion. The frustration. The driver exodus. It has gotten so bad the FMC is even looking into the problem.

But, what can we do to fix it? The answer isn’t something the industry wants to hear. Pay more.

Terminal operators need more robust incomes in order to provide the service and operating hours necessary to move containers in a fluid and efficient manner. Additionally, we are going to have to pay our drivers more to compensate them for the lack of turns they are able to achieve.

Hours of Operation Are Not Operating Hours

At Terminals 015We have been saying for months, even years, the key to making CARB compliant trucks affordable to drivers is increased pay AND increased turns/productivity at the marine terminals.  Unfortunately, most terminal operators in Oakland just put the kibosh on productivity by shutting down transactions at 2:30 in the afternoon.

TraPac has announced they may not, or maybe they will, release import loads after 2:30 in the afternoon.  Ports America is a moving target daily and generally disallows pick ups about the same time, 2:30pm.  SSA has posted a dual transaction cut-off of 2:45pm and a single transaction cut-off of 3:15pm.

Two terminals, Ben E Nutter and Howard (Evergreen and Matson respectively) remain open for all transactions until at least 4:15.

We understand the terminal operators’ constraints.  They are trying to manage costs and reduce overtime.  The increased volumes through their terminals result in high traffic and congestion.  In an effort to process the drivers by the ILWU quitting time, they cease transactions and thus the inflow of drivers and containers early in the day.

However, the rest of the logistics community has constraints as well.  Drivers are trying to make two loops between the Central Valley and Oakland.  Drivers leave the yard about 5:00am in order to be in Oakland before the terminals open.  They make their first terminal transaction and return the Central Valley between 10:00am-1:00pm, maybe later depending upon transaction times and traffic.  If a driver arrives in the Central Valley mid-day, his is unable to return to the Bay and be processed into the terminal gates by the 2:30pm cut-offs.

The two-loop model is critical for the industry and ourselves.  Our drivers rely on it to support their families and our customers rely on it to support their businesses.   Closing at 2:30 effectively makes two turns impossible.