Port Miami Enhances Truck Fluidity, Rail, and Transload Options

Diana MaureFreight Trucking, General, NewsLeave a Comment

Port Miami is currently making a statement by adding new cranes and getting a better system for truck gates, all the while improving the transloading facilities and access to Interstate 95. What does this all mean? Simply put, Miami is preparing itself for global trade. Port Miami is currently investing millions of dollars to improve the fluidity of its terminal while simultaneously offering an advanced option for transloading so that cargo owners and businesses operating all around the world will have a much more comfortable relationship.

It is no industry secret that relationships between truckers and ports have been complicated with problems of reliability and fluidity. Some turn times are speedy, but others take hours at a time, so people don’t know what to anticipate on any given day but all that is soon to change.

Port Traffic / Fluidity

China is currently the primary trading partner for Miami which means that larger vessels are going to have the highest number of issues. In October of 2017 Miami handled an 11000 TEU mega-ship, and with a depth of 50 feet, this means that low tide makes it possible for the porch to deal with those larger container ships. And right now, the port is working to identify steps that might improve fluidity for discharging from directly onto trucks.

Of course, any potential growth in Miami is going to be limited by the confines of the geographic area which is why the port is trying to work with customers to provide services that are more appealing to customers from other regions in Florida, not just South Florida.

Shippers have to monitor how the supply chains operate regularly, and fluidity in a port is essential. Ports have to compete with one another to grab hold of business and prove that they are better than other ports. Miami can prove this by investing in the future and making sure they remain on top of Industry changes. In 2017, during the first quarter, container traffic in Miami increased 8.6% which included a 14% jump in Laden Imports.

And yet, the overall market share has remained flat for the first and last quarter. Miami is not able to compete with ports like Savannah regarding size or with what it can offer, but it can win short turn times and better access to Battleground destinations which is where it is currently directing its efforts.

Right now, a dray going from Savannah’s Garden City to Orlando is 280 MI but going to Miami is 236 miles and going to Jacksonville is only 140 miles. This Sunshine State has 21 million Americans that call it home, and the different ports in Miami and the Everglades are currently at a geographic advantage, but they still need to work hard to capture other markets inside the state.

USDOT Grant

So how is all of this possible? United States Department of Transportation has provided a $7 Million grant to the Miami-Dade County to replace terminal gates so that they now boast automated systems. This grant is there to help continued economic improvements by investing in newer infrastructure. Having these computerized gates increases capacity and processing speed while simultaneously reducing the cost for shippers. Shippers benefit in regards to time too. Automated systems cut truck turn times through the terminal and now as a truck travels from other locations the port Miami tunnel on Interstate 395 reads data and transfers it electronically to the port so that port officials already know which vehicles are soon to arrive.

Thanks in large part to this government grant, Pre-arrival information sent through RFID tags and radio-frequency identification allows this data to reach the port 20 minutes in advance which expedites the process of arriving. This is important because any Improvement in the amount of time will help to improve the fractured relationship that currently exists between terminal operators and truckers. It used to be the case that 3-hour turns were quite common and in heavy traffic situations it could take up to 8 hours which naturally made it impossible for truck drivers to complete more than one trip per day. When truck drivers are paid based on the distance they travel, any amount of time that takes away from that potential will eat away at their profits, and it is no wonder that as a result, the relationship with ports was tumultuous at best. Now, this bottleneck has been located and thanks to the government grant it is being fixed.

Port of Miami and Florida East Coast Railway Partnership

In Savannah, transloading is very popular because the main terminal is just about 10 minutes from Interstate 95. When you are in Florida, Miami is also right next to the interstate which is why the Port of Miami is teaming up with the Florida East Coast Railway to build a transloading facility that is just 12 miles away from the Miami International Airport. This will have double stack Intermodal services at a rate of 3 times daily which will be able to handle upwards of 200 containers each trip. This will be a 60 door cross-dock facility scheduled to open in October. All of the big ships that come from Asia are now able to take advantage of this partnership. It’s cheaper to send something by rail than it is by a truck which is why this is such a potentially significant return on the original investment.

How This Will Affect Shippers

All in, this will affect shippers in a myriad of ways. It will provide better options for shipping goods not only throughout Florida but the East Coast.  Having the option of using the new railway system means that transloading is possible on both the Savannah and the Florida end. This saves shippers money.  Expediting the time required of truckers as they make their way through the newly automated gates into the Port of Miami bodes well for shippers who now can reduce the amount of time wasted on behalf of truckers and improve the potential profits that are gained and shared by all parties involved in the shipping process.

Diana Maure
Starting in 2010 as the Foreign to Foreign Manager for LILLY + Associates Diana has worked with many international clients who ship cargo on a regular basis around the world. Most recently, Diana has joined the Business Development team, continuing to provide customized logistic solutions for her client base.

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