Federal Maritime Commissioner Rebecca Dye recently unveiled proposals on how to improve the container flow inefficiencies at U.S. ports.

As the JOC reports, Dye is focusing on three main pains:

  1. Empty container return appointments
  2. Early return dates (ERDs)
  3. Container pickup

‘Fixing’ the Container Flow at U.S. Ports

Dye is proposing a system of practices  that could potentially help to sync up some of the timing problems shippers face.

Container return proposal –

  • Empty containers would need to be returned to the original terminal of pickup
  • The option for truckers to return empty containers to another location
  • If the delivery location changes, truckers would need to be notified before noon the previous day
  • Requirements for an appointment at a new receiving terminal must be waived

Early return date proposal

  • The ERD date applicable for the shipment will be the one in effect at the time the empty container has been picked up from the terminal
  • The FMC Supply Chain Innovation Team will involve related detention and demurrage charges

Container pickup proposal

  • Ocean carriers and marine terminals need to work together to provide shippers with an electronic notice that a container is available for pick up
  • Free time does not start until a container is accessible and available for pickup
  • Free time and clocks stop if a container becomes non-accessible and unavailable for pickup

She specifically is looking at how these would work at the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and New York/New Jersey. Industry comments are due September 15th.

Looking Ahead

Some industry stakeholders view these proposals as a “step in the right direction,” and are hopefully that action will come from the industry feedback.

There have been previous attempts at solutions for container flow efficiencies, but attempts have not been made into fruition due to many involved racing to have their system to be ‘the’ system.

Ideally, there’s a system that works and benefits for every party involved, but that has not happened yet.

Should you have any questions regarding this and how it could impact your shipments, please reach out to our team today.

Additionally, we have our weekly market updates that can provide you with relevant freight news, updates, developments across the industry, and more.




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