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North American Ports Quest for Quality 2019: At the forefront of world-class service

Learn about the 36th Annual Quest for Quality Award winners for North American Ports

As our executive editor Patrick Burnson recently reported, we all watched unsurpassed inbound container traffic roll through our nation’s largest ocean cargo gateways at the end of 2018, as importers raced to beat the specter of upcoming tariff increases. And now, amid the constant shifting in trade agreement banter and protocols, logistics managers are faced with the daunting challenge of finding the right ports at the right moment.

“Analysts contend that the surge in imports to West Coast ocean cargo gateways may have been an aberration due to the tariff situation,” says Burnson. “But as things cool down on that front, it’s predicted that the East and Gulf coast contenders will be grabbing more market share.”

In fact, Fitch Ratings and several maritime analyst groups expect port volume growth to continue in the second half of 2019, consistent with the U.S. economy. However, many contend that ports with higher exposure to commodities or trading partners targeted by tariffs and trade policies may see greater volatility.

“The Fitch analysts told us earlier in the year that ocean carrier consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, as well as changes to alliances are also likely to have an impact on port productivity through the entire year,” says Burnson.

But the good news is that with these changes comes more competition amongst the nation’s ports—and with competition comes the need to differentiate. Because of that, advancements in operational technology and robotics are becoming key differentiators for our nation’s leading ocean cargo gateways. “We’re seeing an increasing numbers of port terminals using higher levels of automation to improve productivity in order to keep pace,” adds Burnson. “It’s certainly one of the more exciting times in history to track port development.”

This year the readers of Logistics Management are handing Quest for Quality gold to 12 North American ports for service excellence. In the Northeast, the Port of Halifax posted a weighted score of 49.57. In the Mid-Atlantic the Port of Wilmington, N.C. put up an impressive 52.31 weighted score, while Jacksonville Port Authority posted a category leading 53.55 weighted score to the South.

The Port of Houston (47.90) was the only port in the Gulf to score above the weighted average, while Port of Montreal was the sole recipient of Quest for Quality honors out of the Great Lakes Region with a 49.58 weighted score. Out on the busy West Coast, the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which comprises the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, put up the top weighted score in the region with a 51.40.

2019 Quest for Quality Winners Categories


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