Freight News, Road, Sea

Port of Oakland – exports up and more time for truckers

[ June 14, 2019   //   ]

Containerized export volume at the Port of Oakland spiked last month, again turning trade war logic on its head. The Port said today that exports, primarily to Asia, were up 8.4% compared to May 2018 totals. Imports were up, too, climbing 4.2% over last year.
The Port said it handled the equivalent of 85,964 20-foot import containers in May. Exports totaled 78,070 containers.
Oakland has now reported improved year-over-year import and export performance for three straight months. The trend contradicts analyst warnings of trade declines in the face of an ongoing U.S.-China tariff skirmish.
“Logic tells us that at some point, tariffs should drive down cargo volumes because they’re making international trade more expensive,” explained Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “But our customers have so far defied conventional wisdom by finding new markets for their products.”
The Port said its export growth centered on China’s neighbors including Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Importers, too, are turning to those markets to purchase products previously sourced in China, the Port added.
Oakland’s total cargo volume last month – imports, exports and empty container returns – increased 9%, the Port said. The volume of empty containers shipped back to Asian markets for reuse climbed 17.5%.
Oakland set a record by handling 2.55 million cargo containers in 2018. Through the first five months of 2019, its volume is up 5.5% compared to last year. The Port cautioned against projecting future volumes, however, due to the uncertain global trade outlook.
The U.S. this month began imposing even higher tariffs on goods imported from China. The Port said it would pay close attention to June cargo volume to learn if heightened tariffs dampen trade.

Truckers hauling Port of Oakland freight are getting in and out of town faster than ever. The average truck transaction times were reported by the port as being 62-to-72 minutes for May at Oakland marine terminals. That was down from a high of 92 minutes in January.
Port officials said reduced transaction times mean containerized cargo is reaching customers quicker. Faster times are also giving freight haulers the opportunity to make more trips – and more money – every day.
“It’s an encouraging sign for all of us,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It indicates that we’re operating more efficiently for the benefit of the global supply chain.”
Truck transaction times – known as turn times – measure how long it takes freight haulers to drop off or pick up cargo containers. Turn times averaged 62 minutes in May at Everport marine terminal. The average at Oakland International Container Terminal was 69 minutes, with 72 minutes at TraPac terminal. The three terminals are where container ships load and unload international cargo. Thousands of truckers enter Oakland terminals daily to haul the cargo.
The Port attributed turn time improvements to a series of measures implemented in Oakland over the past three years. The steps have included: The addition of night shifts to ease daytime terminal crowding; A requirement for appointments before truckers can pick up cargo; and Completion of a 2-year, $67 million expansion at TraPac.
Port officials said turn times were often two hours or more before operational changes took hold. It said that TraPac turn times have improved more than 20 percent from an average of 92 minutes in January.
Turn time averages include night shifts when transaction volume drops dramatically, the Port said. According to the Port, more than 70 percent of truck transactions take place during daylight hours. That’s when harbor drivers are most likely to experience greater than average turn times.
About 80% of freight haulers conduct dual transactions when visiting Oakland marine terminals. That means they’re delivering containers to the port – empties or export loads – before driving out with import boxes. The two steps are counted as one transaction for turn time purposes.
The port compiles turn time data from electronic feeds provided by marine terminal operators. It posts the data on the Oakland Portal, the port’s online gateway for supply chain operators.