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August 14 2023

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30 Journal of Commerce | A ugust 14, 2023 www.joc.com Government owner or freight forwarder — every- one's optimizing for their local needs, for information they care about," he said. "In an ideal world, there's a system that brings all this together for most parties, and every- one wants to be that system right now, so there isn't one." Schrap believes Dye's proposals are "a step in the right direction." ERD struggles ERDs have long been a puzzle for shippers. Debbie McMillan, a logis- tics associate at California-based nut distributor Derco Foods, regularly coordinates drop-offs at Port of Oakland's TraPac Terminal. Last August, however, the company had 17 loads — with $3.5 million worth of cargo — waiting to be dropped off for a noon receiving window, only to find out an hour beforehand the vessel the cargo was supposed to load onto would be 740 hours late. "It throws everything off for your team," McMillan told the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) Conference in mid-June. "In this case, it affected processors and dispatchers and drivers who had sat there since early that morning and had nowhere to go but to take [the cargo] back to the plant or a storage area." The frustration stems from knowing that "someone" had the information about the vessel delay well ahead of time, but didn't share it until the last minute, she added. "Someone knew, and yet the decision to pull that vessel off the schedule was not made until an hour and six minutes before the gate was open for receiving," McMillan said. In addition to nailing down a uni- form ERD process for all terminals, Dye also proposed a definition for container availability as when it is "accessible and available for pickup." Only then would free time start, and the clock would stop if those condi- tions changed. Peter Friedmann, executive direc- tor of AgTC, praised Dye's "urgently needed" reforms on LinkedIn July 27. "[E]ven with the dramatically dimin- ished container volumes, they con- tinue to lead to detention and demur- rage charges, disruption, uncertainty and cost," he wrote. JOC email: teri.griffis@spglobal.com In addition, Dye proposed that ERDs for loaded exports should be determined at the time the empty container is picked up from the termi- nal and should not change thereafter. Dye will look at how those pro- posals would work at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York and New Jersey, in particular. To that end, she's seeking industry feedback, with comments due by Sept. 15. A central system Matt Schrap, CEO of the West Coast-based Harbor Trucking Associ- ation, told the Journal of Commerce July 27 he is pleased Dye is examin- ing pain points involving container flow through ports and hopes to see action come from the feedback. Schrap and others in the industry have long lamented the absence of uniform systems that would provide visibility around where containers are in their ocean journey, when they can be picked up and when they can be dropped off. At Los Angeles and Long Beach, for exam- ple, customers use seven different appointment systems to schedule container returns and pickups, and every terminal has its own policies, Schrap noted. The constant scramble to check emails and various systems makes it difficult for motor carriers to plan needed capacity. There have been disparate attempts at a solution, including the White House's Freight Logis- tics Optimization Works (FLOW) program, FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel's Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI) and Long Beach's Supply Chain Information Highway. But with so many stake- holders racing to have their system be the system, no one is winning, especially not the shippers, Jake Hoffman, chief technology officer of Gnosis Freight, told the Journal of Commerce July 27. "Every different party along the way — the terminal operator, the ocean carrier, the beneficial cargo A FEDERAL MARITIME commissioner has unveiled proposals to improve long-standing cargo bottlenecks through US ports, most recently experienced in 2021 and 2022 during the pandemic-driven import surge, which can result in what many ship- pers believe are unreasonable deten- tion and demurrage costs. The proposals from Federal Maritime Commissioner Rebecca Dye, announced in late July, focus on three specific pain points for shippers: empty container return appointments, earliest return dates (ERDs) and container availability. Dye didn't offer regulations or software solutions, but rather a sys- tem of practices that could help sync up some of the timing problems plaguing shippers. Under her proposals, empty con- tainers would have to be returned to the original terminal of pickup. If the delivery location changes, truckers must be notified of the new container receiving terminal before noon the previous day and requirements for an appointment must be waived. A little less conversation... FMC's Dye offers fixes for container flow problems through US ports By Teri Errico Griffis "Everyone wants to be that system right now, so there isn't one." In addition to uniform ERDs, Dye's proposals include starting free time when a container is "accessible and available for pickup." Shutterstock.com International | Washington | Customs | Security | Regulation

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