- Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) said Wednesday it is conducting between 1,500 and 2,000 daily truck transactions after sundown, more than double the figure reported last year.
- Launched two years ago, the terminal says its night gate operations decrease daytime port congestion, reduce truck traffic, accelerate shipment delivery, and boost truck driver income by allowing them to transport more containers daily.
- The increased efficiency can be measured in improvements to truck transaction times. In the past, the terminal says drivers would wait 2 to 3 hours. With night gates, the average wait time has halved to 60 to 90 minutes.
The Port of Oakland terminal's experiment with night gate hours was the first in the nation, and its apparent success is a testament to supply chain stakeholders' desire for a market solution to long port wait times.
"Rapid cargo movement is essential at marine terminals," the port wrote in a press release. "That's the critical supply chain intersection where ships, trucks and trains hand-off containerized shipments."
However, expanding operations is neither easy nor free. Equipment, technology systems, security and labor must all be available to help facilitate additional shifts of container pickup. To finance the operations, the Oakland International Container Terminal charges a $30 fee per load handled by night.
"It's the best $30 I ever spent," Ken Bulger, COO at Apex Maritime told the Port of Oakland. The night gate hours essentially create a "domino effect" at the port, easing congestion not just at night, but also throughout the other eight operating shifts, according to Jim Rice, general manager at OICT.
Other facilities are taking note, too. At Oakland, TraPac marine terminal is testing its own night gate operations. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are reportedly studying Oakland's example, too.
Elsewhere, the project sheds light on a national conversation over how to fix the "black box" of ports within the supply chain, and make them more efficient. Other than night gate hours, ports in the U.S. have experimented with truck reservation systems, as well as other technology tools, to ease infamous dwell times.
No port is the same, however. A system at OICT may not be compatible with the asset and labor workflow in another terminal, much less another city. Still, the terminal's experience shows long truck wait times and port congestion is a problem to be fixed — and not just dealt with as a cost of doing business.