Automation helps TraPac's terminal in LA to cope with cargo spikes

TRAPAC's terminal at the port of Los Angeles is one year into the first phase of a US$510 million upgrade that began in 2013

01 August 2019 - 19:00

TRAPAC's terminal at the port of Los Angeles is one year into the first phase of a US$510 million upgrade that began in 2013. The company said the upgrades will enable the terminal to handle 2.4 million TEU by 2038, up from 1.7 million TEU in 2015.

The expansion project will raise the terminal's size by one-third to 233 acres, deepen vessel berths to accommodate post-panamax container ships, upgrade the wharves, and it also involves the construction of a new on-dock rail yard.

The new upgrades also allow TraPac to dedicate part of its terminal for automated container handling for both rail and truck moves. Marketing manager Andrea Connolly said automated container handling was a key reason it was able to handle the front-loading of containers into the US last year and why it is achieving some of the lowest turnaround times for drivers at southern California ports, reported New York's FreightWaves.

'Our fully automated process enables us to improve safety and avoid unexpected interruptions, such as substantial volume increases that can significantly impact productivity,' Ms Connolly was quoted as saying.

She said that TraPac has doubled its container capacity owing to the use of automated cargo handling equipment, such as stacking cranes and straddle carriers.

With regards to trucking efficiency, Ms Connolly noted that TraPac remains one of the easiest terminals for collecting containers.

The Harbour Trucking Association's Truck Mobility Data powered by GeoStamp said TraPac's average turn times ranged between 66 and 72 minutes during the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to an average of 90 minutes across all southern California's marine terminals.

TraPac has continued to outperform the rest of the port in terms of truck turns. Since June, it achieved an average 49-minute turn time for the day shift, compared to a 79-minute turn time across the rest of the port.

Freight companies are paying more attention to turn times to boost driver earnings on a daily basis. Uber, Convoy and NEXT Trucking are exploring ways that drivers can find dual-transactions at the port.

'With the automated truck handling system at TraPac, trucks can expect to get in and out of the terminal faster, which means more daily pick-ups and drop-offs,' Ms Connolly said. 'Additionally, [beneficial cargo owners] can expect to receive their goods faster than competing terminals.'

Shipping lines are likewise seeing the benefits of moving goods through TraPac. CMA CGM subsidiary APL changed its Los Angeles terminal call for its Asia-to-US west coast service to TraPac in June.

The Eagle Express service offers shippers rail transit times between 14 to 17 days from Los Angeles to US Midwest destinations. Getting APL to switch vessel calls from its Eagle Marine Services terminal to TraPac is a result of the company's automation investment, 'which has allowed us to substantially densify our existing volumes and in turn, free up significant [container] capacity'.


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