using ships and barges from ports in Florida and New Jersey.
Key to the service, the companies say, is that FFE's 53-foot temperature-controlled highway trailers will carry the freight. Currently 40-foot refrigerated ocean containers dominate the market.
Ocean containers have no wheels and must be lifted by crane onto a chassis for highway transportation and lifted from the chassis onto ships. Much of the freight destined for Puerto Rico arrives at port locations in highway trailers and must be transferred into ocean containers.
The new service announced by FFEX and ITL simplifies the ocean container process. The highway trailer is loaded at the shipper's dock, it is then driven on and off the ship at the port and the freight is not touched until it is delivered to the buyer.
Bernard Sain, president and CEO of ITL, estimates that this simplified process will "significantly reduce our customer costs for each shipment." In addition, he said it eliminates the potential for damage to temperature-sensitive goods.
Stoney M. (Mit) Stubbs Jr., chairman and CEO of FFEX, said the new service also lowers shipping costs because of the larger capacity of the 53-foot highway trailer. "In addition to eliminating the need for handling the ocean container and, often, the goods inside that container," he said, "the larger size of our 53-foot trailers can reduce the number of trailer loads shipped annually by a customer by up to 30%.
"Our fleet is in excess of 2,000 trucks and 3,000 trailers. We travel into and out of Canada, the lower 48 U.S. states and Mexico, so we can open up North America for efficient and economical transportation into and out of Puerto Rico," Stubbs added. "But we do not expect this service to be an overnight success," he added. "The ocean carriers own the containers and contractually obligate shippers into and out of Puerto Rico for a certain number of container shipments a year. We expect our business to expand as the contracts expire. Frankly, I don't see how any shipper could turn down the savings we are offering to them."
Sain added that shipments into Puerto Rico are dominated by prepared foods going to grocery chains, food items for fast food restaurants and beer. Freight coming out of Puerto Rico includes pharmaceuticals and computer- related equipment and supplies. The FFEX/ITL service currently offers eight round-trip sailings a week.