Southern ports propose new chassis pool to meet demand
- Georgia and South Carolina port authorities are launching the Southern States Chassis Pool, Transport Topics reported, which aims to improve chassis distribution among southern ports.
- The statement announcing the pool notes this will be a new pool to replace the South Atlantic Chassis Pool, which handled 40% of the ports' chassis. The new pool agreement filed with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) says all ports in the pool will be able to meet, discuss and negotiate how best to distribute chassis among themselves.
- As ocean carriers have stopped providing as many chassis as they did in the past, ports have struggled with chassis shortages for trucks, which is part of the reason for the new pool, according to Transport Topics' report. The ports will know by August 1 whether they have the green light from the FMC to move forward.
A fast-growing, shifting ocean shipping industry is causing chassis shortages in Southern ports, prompting ports to take solutions into their own hands.
Besides shifting ocean alliances causing cargo to change hands in ports, an increased volume in containers and rate hikes, intermodal equipment providers have recently relieved ocean carriers of chassis handling, resulting in shortages at ports adjusting to the transitions.
In short, more containers and new chassis providers created a perfect storm for Southern ports.
According to South Carolina Ports statement, "While th[e old chassis] pool has historically been an effective solution to chassis provision, the current fleet is both aging and has not kept up in size with the growth of containerized trade in the Southeast."
While the statement and the agreement filed with the FMC do not specify how many chassis the new pool plans to handle, it does say "the Member Ports, collectively and individually, will have the authority to meet, discuss, exchange information or data, and negotiate and agree, between themselves and with third parties, on all matters relating to the establishment, operation and use of chassis."
By taking control rather than relying on equipment providers to sort out the shortage, Southern ports may be able to better improve their logistics and move containers more quickly through the ports. Such a move may cause even more logistical disruption in the short term, but long term may increase efficiency.
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