As the Import Wave Continues, TRAC Aims To Ensure Cargo Fluidity

May 26, 2021

After a record-breaking flow of goods from Asian markets into many U.S. ports during 2020, driven in large part by online consumer spending, volumes during the early months of 2021 are on pace to top even last year’s record import numbers. Port of NY/NJ import volume during March of this year broke last October’s overall monthly record, while the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles notched their best first quarter on record during January-March.

Global Port Tracker projects imports to rise more than 30% from April through July over the comparable period last year. The same group reports that monthly U.S. imports from Asia will likely meet or exceed 2 million TEUs in 11 of 13 months from August 2020 through August 2021. Before last year, monthly import volumes from Asia only hit 2 million TEUs once during October 2018.

TRAC Intermodal has pursued a three-pronged strategy for managing surging imports and ensuring cargo fluidity:

1. Adding capacity to critical pinch point locations

TRAC has been re-positioning chassis from surplus locations and adding new equipment and upgraded chassis to support the flow of goods. In the Northeast (NY/NJ) and the Midwest (Chicago and Detroit) demand remains high. The Mountain area (Denver and Omaha) and the West (LA/LB and Oakland) have also been experiencing high volumes. Overall, this continues to be a very dynamic and evolving market and TRAC remains focused on turning equipment as quickly as possible to meet commercial demand and minimize import-export supply chain interruptions.

2. Reducing out-of-service units as quickly as possible

Bringing OOS units back into service has been important to maintaining equipment numbers to meet chassis demand. COVID-19 has created a number of restrictions including reduced labor numbers, which had an impact on the equipment repairs. Still, through collaboration with maintenance and repair vendors, TRAC’s 40-foot fleet has been oscillating at only 3% at the Port of NY/NJ and 5.5% at the Ports of LA/LB, less than 2% in Houston and less than 1% in Denver.

3. Monitoring Street Dwell

TRAC continues to closely assess and address street dwell data to ensure equipment moves from the street in a timely manner. The average street dwell currently is above normal levels across all markets. Reducing chassis street dwell can have a major impact on improving terminal fluidity and TRAC is working with key stakeholders to ensure equipment is turned off the street in a timely fashion.

For more details on TRAC’s chassis operations, please visit our weekly operations updates.

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