Transloaders serving ecommerce go inland for yard and dock space

FINDING yards and dock space to accommodate the increasing demand for e-commerce is becoming more difficult, reports IHS Media

28 March 2021 - 19:00
FINDING yards and dock space to accommodate the increasing demand for e-commerce is becoming more difficult, reports IHS Media.

Lack of space is pushing more container transloading inland, raising costs and cutting savings from moving the contents of FEUs into 53-footers, said LA's Trade Facilitators consultancy president Dan Gardner.

'Transloading capacity includes yards, terminals, and docks as well as labour and equipment, and real estate close to ports is increasingly hard to find,' he told JOC's recent virtual TPM21 conference.

A 2017 study showed transloading it accounted for 58 per cent of intermodal freight from Los Angeles and Long Beach, a six-percentage-point increase over five years.

The current global container shortage makes transloading even more attractive.

Beyond an increase in imports, Mr Gardner said e-commerce is driving the growth of transloading. 'As more companies operate in an omni-channel environment, transload allows for a demand-based allocation of product into that environment, whether going to stores or fulfillment centres,' he said.

Newell Brands, a consumer goods importer that has identified nine major inbound transload lanes from west coast ports to inland distribution centres (DCs). About 80 per cent of Newell Brands' imports enter the US through Los Angeles and Long Beach.

'We're looking at some additional ports on the west coast,' John Terrestrial, Newell Brands' senior manager of supply chain optimization, transportation, and logistics, told the TPM21.

Goods from three FEUs can fit into two 53-footers , said Mr Terrestrial. 'If we can take out one move out of every three, there's a pretty large transportation savings,' he said. Now he seeks more flexibility.

'We began to see ancillary benefits that go beyond transportation,' he said. 'We could buy a single container of product that would normally go to two different distribution centres and allocate inventory dynamically, as it arrived, rather than 120 days in advance.'

Exporters also may see transloading as a better option than searching for ocean containers near inland DCs. Mr Terrestrial said he was introduced to transloading at a former job in which trailers of goods shipped to ports were trans loaded into ocean containers for export.

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