Smooth Sailings

Port and highway congestion, environmental concerns and infrastructure inadequacies are the bugaboos that haunt logisticians and maritime officials. Because of the steadily increasing pressure these trouble spots are applying on our nation’s supply chain, analysts are pointing to the need of immediate and remedial measures. We’ve just listed more than 50 groups and individuals in Article 21, each providing input with respect to the growing severity of the problem as it affects their particular sphere of operation, and one of this number, The Waterfront Coalition, has just now given the industry something to chew on.

Recognizing that the temporary fixes adopted in recent months, while providing a respite, have also exacerbated conditions, the Coalition has isolated and summarized the trouble spots in it’s newest white paper, “The National Marine Container Transportation System: A Call to Action”.

The paper begins by citing the need to “improve the productivity, efficiency and throughput of all American blue-water ports”.
• This is exactly what our patented system is designed to do. The “Overview” at the beginning of this website states that, “Under present conditions, truckers are being hampered by traffic logjams and lengthy waiting periods, and these conditions, producing strikes, slowdowns and driver shortages, have been described as a “national crisis” by traffic analysts. It is admittedly impossible for container yards, structured as they are, to devise ways to deal with congestion in and around terminals in order to eliminate this most troublesome shortcoming, but the built-in space-creating features of our patented systems have enabled our designers to perfect a new and rapid method of product delivery.”

The Coalition’s paper then states that there are “several business-practice issues that must be addressed mostly by the private sector”.
• Our patented system is designed to address, and even fund, all business-practice issues, and specifies that funding is to be provided by the private sector. The system’s cost-effective operations assure unusually high returns to investors and will require no taxpayer funding.

“Making harbor trucking a profitable business” is the very first, and vital, issue listed among the paper’s findings. The driver-operators are struggling to earn adequate compensation and this is leading to a driver shortage at a time when imports are skyrocketing, the paper reminds us.
• We pointed this out in our September 30th, 2004 commentary “The Weakest Link?”, and a review of this essay will further strengthen the Coalition’s position on this issue.
• Back in February of 2000, at a seminar sponsored by the Transportation Research Board, Michael Belzer of the University of Michigan’s Institute of labor Relations stated, “Low wages, long hours, piece work and unsafe working conditions. You have 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 can’t comprehend why people don’t respond to this as a national crisis”.


In a rarely seen indictment, the Coalition points to a severe offshore failing and recommends, “Spreading out vessel sailings and arrivals in the trans-Pacific trade to make maximum use of terminal capacity: … Vessel bunching places stress on terminals to offload and prepare cargo and railroads and truckers to move shipping containers leading to peaks in port congestion. The arrival of 8,000 TEU vessels will only exacerbate this problem.”
• Peter Keller agrees. He said “… we have too many eggs in one basket …we need to spread the risk … we need to look for other places to accommodate growth.”
• Secretary Mineta agrees and has already stated that an additional 200 container terminals must be set up in order to handle the predicted container volumes in the coming years.
• This website’s concurring admonition can be seen in our November 1st, 2004 commentary, “Run To Daylight”. It’s worth another reading.

“Operating ports during extended hours” is another one of the paper’s recommendations.
• Analysts and officials alike see the inevitability of 24/7 operations in the very near future and, in fact, have taken a step in that direction through the imposition of the PierPASS program. Although this program assists in “throughput”, its greatest failing is that it continues to ignore the “vital” issue put forth above: the profitability of the harbor trucking business and an adequate rate of compensation for the owner-operator. As Mr. Russell Bruner said: “It all begins and ends with the trucker … Truckers have to be paid more”.

Two of the following concerns, “Developing port-wide truck appointment systems” and “Developing regional or national chassis pools”, are just two of the issues that can be addressed and put to rest by the installation of our patented, space-creating container handling system.
• This website has been established to illustrate that the many difficulties encountered in the intermodal supply chain can be remedied by one single step … the installation of our patented, space-creating container handling system. Our October 14th, 2004 commentary, “Plus Signs”, states that “… no stone will be left unturned”, and more than two dozen seemingly unattainable benefits, which can be realized only by the installation of our systems, are listed in that essay. We’ve covered these benefits and solutions in dozens of our past commentaries, and a quick review of the “Problems & Solutions” pages in this website will cast some light on the critical ones.
• Referring once again to our “Overview” page in this website, we stated that, “Because large tracts of valuable acreage will be made available by our retrofitted space-saving systems, our delivery system, emanating from staging areas within these facilities and requiring no gates, will bring an end to traffic tieups and waiting lines. This new delivery system will eliminate once and for all the threats of driver shortages resulting from lost wages caused by long waiting lines, and with the termination of this national crisis, every stumbling block to efficient, inexpensive and secure intermodal transportation will be removed.”

The Coalition advises the industry to “Provide more sailings to alternate ports: Shippers and ocean carriers must work collaboratively to designate additional West Coast ports as first-ports-of-call.”
• This is what Secretary Mineta has been advising: Offload the cargo closer to the end user! … And this is exactly what we’ve been emphasizing throughout these commentaries.