Supply chain managers want ports to get their acts together

National Retail Federation is leading a coalition of more than 100 groups in sending specific recommendations to the Department of Transportation

By ·

Following up on last fall’s successful campaign to include a port performance statistics program in the federal long-term surface transportation bill, the National Retail Federation is leading a coalition of more than 100 groups in sending specific recommendations to the Department of Transportation.

“Having efficient, modern ports is important for the free flow of international trade, both imports and exports, and critical for our respective industries,” the coalition of organizations representing retailers, manufacturers, farmers, logistics providers, and other supply chain stakeholders wrote in a letter to Secretary Anthony Foxx.

NRF and the other organizations asked Foxx to include a number key performance indicators in the following areas in the new port performance statistics program created by December’s “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act”:

• Activities at the berth, including the number of containers moved to or from a ship and the number of days a vessel sits at the berth.

• Activities within marine terminal yards, including container “dwell” time and port capacity as measured by container throughput.

• Truck gate operations, including truck turn time (the time a trucker has to wait in line to get in the terminal and then pick up or drop off the container), availability of the tractor-trailer “chassis” on which containers are carried – particularly at peak times – and the impact of “trouble tickets” issued to truckers when cargo is not ready for pick up due to various reasons.

• On-dock rail operations to evaluate the velocity through the port in places where ports can put together railroad trains of cargo on-dock.


“Our interest in performance measures is long-standing, but has been recently spurred by significant congestion and cargo delivery delays at the nation’s largest container ports,” the letter said. “These delays have a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, impacting all of our collective members, as well as the overall U.S. economy.”

The coalition also made a strong argument for the Transportation Department to include cargo owners or shippers among the participants in the working group developing the port performance statistics program.

“We have been the drivers of discussions about port key performance measures for many years,” the letter said. “We believe it is imperative for [the Bureau of Transportation Statistics] to take shipper interests into account in developing the port statistics program.”


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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