Mega ships dumping mega cargo at the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach mean longer turn times for trucks, just as smaller ships unloading boxes mean shorter ones, reports IHS Media.
Despite the overall positive reports on productivity, several of the 12 container terminals in the twin ports experience average truck turn times of 100 minutes or more.
Matson-SSA in Long Beach docking Matson's smaller ships are the perennial leaders, producing average monthly turn times below 40 minutes, said the report.
Matson has a unique transpacific service in that it operates smaller vessels than the mega-carriers and controls its own terminal in Long Beach.
Imported containers are trucked quickly from the terminal upon vessel arrival to an off-dock site, said the report.
Some terminals beat the harbour average, due productivity enhancements such as container dray-offs and improved trucker appointment systems.
SSA also does drayoffs at its Pier A terminal in Long Beach, and the average truck visit time is consistently in the range of 64 to 78 minutes, according to the Harbour Trucking Association.
Long Beach Container Terminal, which automated cargo handling at its Pier E facility, achieved the second best turn time in the port complex of 44 minutes in February.
Automated terminals are truck friendly because container stacks are repositioned to run perpendicular between the vessel and the gate. This separates street traffic from vessel traffic, and truckers travel a short distance from the gate to the container stack to drop off and take delivery of containers.
Automated terminals' operating systems also allow a greater number of dual transactions, which are key to trucker productivity.
The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), representing carriers and terminals, said average container dwell times declined fell 3.08 days in December to 2.87 days in January to 2.63 days in February.
The percentage of boxes with dwell times of five days or longer also fell from 7.8 per cent in December to four per cent in February, the PMSA reported.
Average truck visit times in Los Angeles-Long Beach declined from 84 minutes in December to 82 minutes in January to 81 minutes in February, according to the HTA.
Truck visit times, from arrival in the line at the gate until the truck exits the terminal, were consistently in the range of 80 to 85 minutes the past 12 months, except for a spike to 90 minutes in July.
Six terminals posted truck turn times 75 to 85 minutes in February, averaging 81 minutes harbour-wide.
Nine of the 12 LA-Long Beach terminals have truck appointments, which alleviate gate bunch-ups and help in labour allocation for the day.
But bunching occurs at the beginning and end of the shift when beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) want truckers to wait until 6pm to exit to avoid the US$144.14 per FEU PierPass traffic mitigation fee, said HTA chief executive Weston LaBar.
A consultant's report suggests that PierPass fee be replaced by lesser amount charged to all trucks during day and night shifts.
Mr LaBar said that that plan would eliminate lengthy truck turn times from 4 to 6pm because BCOs would not no benefit having truckers to wait until 6pm to exit the terminals.