Port of Oakland’s “task force” focuses on efficiency
Hundreds of new dockworkers have joined the Oakland labor pool since July. As a result, vessels are being loaded and unloaded on schedule.
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In the wake of a summer-long labor shortage hampering dockside operations, the Port of Oakland now maintains that its “efficiency task force” is ready to establish new benchmarks for cargo throughput.
“There has been a lot of improvement at the port over the last three-to-six months,” a major manufacturer told the group of 30 shippers, ocean carriers, marine terminal operators and labor leaders at a recent meeting here. “But the pressure is on to make sure products flow.”
Hundreds of new dockworkers have joined the Oakland labor pool since July, task force members were told. As a result, vessels are being loaded and unloaded on schedule. Ships that bypassed Oakland due to the labor shortage are returning. And cargo is more readily available for delivery.
“The ships are working and we are seeing positive results,” said Jim Rice, General Manager of Oakland International Container Terminal, one of five marine terminals operating in Oakland.
The port said it will now concentrate on eliminating bottlenecks that delay cargo from reaching its final destination. “Nothing is more important than this,” said Executive Director Chris Lytle. “We’re making progress, but there are still problems.”
Terminal operators noted recent acceleration in moving containerized cargo out of the port. But some cargo owners said they still face delays in moving imports and exports through Oakland. Task force members provided updates on initiatives intended to improve cargo flow:
- By January, the Port should have a mobile application that gives harbor truckers wait times at marine terminals.
- Also in January, the Federal Maritime Commission is expected to respond to a plan for full Saturday operations in Oakland. It’s anticipated that Saturday gates could open by March. They’re expected to ease pressure on Monday-through Friday operations. Oakland terminals are already open on weekends for vessel operations, but rarely for other activities. The new arrangement would open terminals every Saturday for full operations, including gate entry. That would enable harbor truckers to pick-up containerized imports for delivery, drop-off exports or return empties.
- Major chassis-leasing companies are reviewing plans for a common pool of chassis to make it easier and faster for truckers to move in and out of terminals. The port expects the common pool to be up and running in the first quarter next year.
The task force currently has four work groups addressing additional efficiency measures including an appointment system for harbor truckers, maintenance protocols for cargo-handling equipment, performance metrics, and chassis-related issues. The task force was created last summer to get industry-wide insights into Oakland’s operational performance.
About the AuthorPatrick 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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