In a September 2006 commentary we noted a wise analysis by Tony Seideman. He was concerned about the misinformation that distinguished efficient ports from inefficient ports, and resolved to deal with the question by ” busting some very tenacious myths …” He disagreed with consultants who stated that productivity is about getting containers off ships quickly. The act of taking a container off a ship is just the first in a series of steps, he pointed out, and the three steps he cited that had more to do with a port’s efficiency than just the offloading by container cranes, were these; “…at the vessel, moves per crane hour; at the yard, moves per piece of lift equipment; and at the gate and in the yard, truck turn time.”

Those three measures provided us with an opportunity to compare operations in conventionally-structured terminals to our patented system – and we came out looking pretty good.

1. “… at the vessel, moves per crane hour …” Our system will likely have a positive effect on this phase of port production because our unimpeded system of racking instead of stacking will eliminate dockside delays and will allow more time and space for offloading operations.

2. ” … at the yard, moves per piece of lift equipment …” Our patented system will have an even more dramatic effect in this area of productivity. Current, primitive operations involve “moves per piece of lift equipment”. Expensive reach trucks, along with gantry crane-type straddle carriers and stacking cranes used in time-consuming top lifting operations, present ongoing problems in terminals. These costly and cumbersome stacking vehicles, however, would not be employed when our system eventually takes over the storage, retrieval and delivery of intermodal containers. Our simple and efficient operations create time, money and space in beleaguered terminals.

[If you walked into any warehouse and suggested to management that goods should be stacked one atop the other, rather than in accessible racking slots, you’d be laughed at. No sane logistician or warehousing manager would even think of stacking goods. Where performance counts and where jobs are at stake, such an outmoded and primitive stacking concept is unthinkable. Not so, however, with terminal operators. Jobs are not at risk, lack-luster performance is unquestioned, accountability is unheard of, and supply chain problems are exacerbated as a result.]

3. ” … and at the gate and in the yard, truck turn time.” This is gradually becoming the most urgent of all supply chain issues because this vital phase involves human beings a s well as machines. Remember Mr. Belzer’s earlier warning? “Low wages, long hours, piece work and unsafe working conditions … these are working conditions that I believe can be characterized as sweatshops. If the problem is not resolved soon, you won’t have to worry about gridlock because there won’t be any trucks on the road. I cannot comprehend why people don’t respond to this as a national crisis.”

[Well. we’re responding. Our in-house delivery system will hire, and pay generously, every driver.]