Photo via Wikipedia.

Photo via Wikipedia.

PierPass Inc. has launched a new test program called the Free-Flow Program to reduce the time trucks spend picking up containers at marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Free-Flow Program consists of a new cargo handling process that enables bulk delivery of large groups of containers belonging to the same cargo owner, trucking company or logistics company.

“To keep cargo flowing quickly as ships grow ever larger, we need to change how we move containers,” said Bruce Wargo, president and CEO of PierPass. “Doing the same things incrementally faster won’t solve congestion pressures.”

The free-flow process used by the PierPass program begins when a ship is being unloaded. All containers are separated into a stack by the company which owns or claims them. The owner of the cargo then sends a stream of trucks into the marine terminal through a special lane and each truck takes the next container in the stack.

Currently when ships are unloaded they pile cargo into stacks in the order they come off the ship. When trucks arrive they request a specific container and it must be located and dug out of a stack that can sometimes be five containers high and six containers deep.

Using this process, an average of only eight to ten containers per hour can be delivered. Using the free-flow process, as many as 20 containers can be delivered in an hour, says PierPass. Results from trial runs of the free-flow process have shown improvements with trucking companies reporting turn times as short as 11 minutes compared to about 45 minutes in a typical transaction.

Some terminal operators believe that free-flow might eventually account for 30% of cargo moves. While only trucks participating in the Free-Flow Program will see the biggest improvement, PierPass believes that the benefits will spill over to the rest of the trucks.

To check out a video from PierPass on the Truck Turn process click here.