AgTC Workshop – September 2020
Record Volumes, Update on the Chassis Industry

On Monday, September 14, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) held a Zoom workshop focused on marine chassis provisioning and current supply chain challenges. Val Noel, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for TRAC Intermodal, spoke at the workshop and shared his insights on the rebounding marine freight volumes as well as chassis industry topics.

Record Volume Following Lockdown
As many states continue to re-open their economies, the flow of goods into and out of U.S. ports is reaching historic levels. The Port of Long Beach along with the Port of Los Angeles reported a record-breaking August, processing 12% and 9% more volume respectively. Additionally, the Port of New York/New Jersey recently reported their best month ever in import volume. Meanwhile, the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) said August was the fifth-best month in the history of intermodal in terms of intermodal loadings.

The key objective for TRAC Intermodal has been ensuring chassis fluidity to support this unprecedented cargo volume,” said Val. During the workshop, he explained that TRAC Intermodal has been relocating chassis to critical pinch points to address this extraordinary surge in volume. TRAC Intermodal has also honed its focus on decreasing out-of-service units as quickly as possible, working closely with their maintenance and repair vendor network which employs ILWU labor in port areas on the West Coast and ILA labor on the East and Gulf Coasts. As Val indicated, both labor organizations have been extremely responsive and productive.

As the economy and import volume has rebounded, TRAC Intermodal has been extremely responsive, aggressively adding incremental fleet along with reducing out-of -service inventories. The Company continues to focus on key pinch point markets in an effort to minimize import-export supply chain interruptions. This continues to be a very dynamic, fluid and evolving market and TRAC remains focused on providing available inventory to meet commercial demand.

Chassis Provisioning and Equipment Control
One of the issues covered during the workshop focused on chassis provisioning – or pool – models. Specifically, the participants discussed the concept of ‘neutral pools’ that, although having recently received a fair amount of press coverage, are often misunderstood by the trade. Val pointed out that neutral pools are operated by independent IEPs (Intermodal Equipment Providers) that are seeking ways to differentiate their products and services. As a result, IEPs such as TRAC Intermodal invest hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade their equipment and provide comprehensive maintenance and repair programs. This ensures customers always have access to a safe and reliable piece of equipment.

Val went on to explain that as IEPs compete for intermodal customers in their respective neutral pools, they focus on chassis quality, availability and pool efficiency to set themselves apart from their competition. This competitive dynamic fosters operational and technological innovation.The result is a better end-product and an industry that can adapt and respond to crises or upheavals. Most importantly, it supports the goal of all IEPs: to provide their customers with safe, reliable chassis.

If you have attended the AgTC Workshop and have additional questions, please contact TRAC at marketing@tracintermodal.com.