“Back That Chassis Up”
If Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, and Lil Wayne rapped about international shipping, “Back That Chassis Up” would be their biggest song. It would go something like this:
Port you workin’ without chass-yeahs, you bad yeah
Make a trucker spend his cash yeah, his last yeah
Shippers frown when you pause yeah, they mad yeah
Truck, you looks good, won’t you back that chassis up
You’se a fine cargo-trucker, won’t you back that chassis up
Call me Big Shipper when you back that chassis up
Port, who is you playin’ wit? Back that chassis up
That’s right, they’re spittin’ ’bout the chassis shortage problem that has been such a major factor in creating congestion at West Coast ports, especially the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
International shippers are spitting mad about the situation too. And they should be.
Shippers have lost a great deal of money because cargo has gotten delayed by port congestion. Not only have shippers lost money, but they’ve lost that wonderful feeling of receiving their shipping containers of cargo on time and in full.
Of course, Sir Ships-A-Lot probably explains the wonderful feeling of your shipping container of cargo being delivered best in his classic anthem, “I Like Big Rigs”:
I like big rigs and I can not lie
You other shippers can’t deny
That when a truck pulls up with a chassis loaded case
And your cargo in your face
You get sprung
Fortunately, when the contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) that also greatly factored into port congestion ended, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could focus on solutions to the chassis shortage problem.
Two chassis plans are moving forward at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to make chassis available so truckers can move shipping containers out of the ports: the Gray Chassis Pool and the Peak Hour Chassis Pool.
Which of these two chassis pool plans will be more effective in reducing congestion at the ports?
Gray Chassis Pool
The “Gray Chassis Pool” is also known as the “Gray Chassis Fleet” and the “Pool of Pools”.
Is the Gray Chassis Pool really great enough to be called the Pool of Pools?
Well, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach worked in cooperation, making a deal between three chassis owning companies, Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI), Flexi-Van Leasing Inc., and TRAC Intermodal to create this chassis pool for the San Pedro Bay ports.
Since the launch of this chassis pool on March 1st, chassis availability has improved markedly.
This improvement in availability of necessary equipment for the moving of shipping containers at the ports has really helped bring congestion down and garnered the praise of drayage/trucking companies.
You can read more about the Gray Chassis Pool in our previous blog about things happening to move cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Peak Hour Chassis Pool
Despite the success seen so far from the Gray Chassis Pool, the Port of Long Beach recognizes it is not enough.
West Coast ports expect vessel, yard, and gate operations to be back to normal by the end of this month according to an article by Bill Mongelluzzo on JOC.com.
But normal isn’t good enough to handle the increased shipping container loads new megaships bring to the ports.
The Peak Hour Chassis Pool is specific to the Port of Long Beach, whose Harbor Commission voted to take bids from companies interested in running the program. Andrew Edwards reported in the Press-Telegram:
The port’s plan calls for the winner of the bids to initially deploy 1,000 chassis. Another 2,000 chassis could be added to the pool at port officials’ discretion. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union would be hired to maintain the chassis.
Steven Rubin, the port’s managing director of finance and administration said during separate budget discussions Monday that port officials plan to spend $10 million on the program during the current budget year and an additional $20 million during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Bidders have until 10 a.m. June 2 to submit their proposals. The contract could begin July 1.
The Gray Chassis Pool has a leg up on the Peak Chassis Pool in a couple ways:
- It encompasses both the Ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach
- It has been in effect longer
But what really makes the Peak Hour Chassis Pool exciting is that it is a pool in addition to the Gray Chassis Pool. With the Port of Long Beach already allocating $30 million to this pool, it figures to have a strong positive effect on port operations.
Since the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been allowed by the Federal Maritime Association to work together, the Peah Hour Chassis Pool should end up benefitting both ports.