Thursday, August 13, 2015

Oakland Port Tackles Efficiency Measures

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Oakland officials say they have a plan to move cargo more efficiently at their gateway, and this week they received expert guidance in implementing the plan. A 30-member task force met the first week of August to prioritize efficiency measures.

The task force consists of shipping lines, marine terminal operators, cargo owners, harbor truckers and dockworkers.

They say they want, among other things: an end to vessel backlogs forcing some ships to temporarily anchor in San Francisco Bay instead of berthing; enough dockworkers, marine clerks and equipment to efficiently manage high volumes of containerized cargo; and extended hours and an appointment system to help harbor truckers get cargo in and out of Oakland quickly.

The port, for its part, said it’s ready to act.

A two-month old labor shortage is already being addressed in Oakland, port officials told the task force. About 150 dockworkers and 30 marine clerks are expected to join the workforce over the next two months. The port is also making significant progress in clearing out a backlog of delayed ships that developed during the labor shortage. Only five vessels were reported at anchor or outside the Golden Gate Bridge awaiting berths during the first week of August, down from a high of 13 the week before.

Next on the port’s list of initiatives: extended terminal hours. According to the port, a proposal for permanent Saturday operations is under review with the Federal Maritime Commission. The plan would lengthen the work week to six days in Oakland, easing congestion during peak weekday periods.

The port is also finalizing plans with equipment providers to ensure any chassis can be used by any trucker. By fall, the truck trailers that haul containers over the road will be made available from a common pool.