Congestion Relief Away from the Highways

Beating congestion while easing capacity issues is not solely an issue for America's highways. Measures to ease the flow of goods are being undertaken by air, rail and ocean providers.

In the air a great deal of work has been done by Cargo 2000 (www.cargo2000.com), spearheaded by the International Air Transport Association (www.iata.org). Cargo 2000's aim is to re-engineer air cargo transportation from shipper to consignee, reducing individual processes in the supply chain from 40 to just 19.

With emphasis on streamlining the movement of air freight, Unisys (www.unisys.com) is developing the next generation of its Logistics Management System, which is used today to process 35% of the world's air freight, the company claims. The Internet-based application supports all cargo functions from price quotes through final shipment delivery. The enhanced services will be rolled out from late 2007 to mid-2009.

Looking at the movement of less than containerload (LCL) ocean cargo, a 16-page research report released earlier this year, Coping With Uncertainty, called for creation of fast track services for reliable, timely delivery of Asian imports. Authored by David Hoppin and Brian Clancy of MergeGlobal (www.mergeglobal.com, Arlington, Va.), the report was sponsored by APL Logistics (www.apllogistics.com) and Con-Way Freight (www.con-way.com). Coincidentally, the two sponsor companies launched OceanGuaranteed last year, a day-definite guaranteed LCL service for shipments from Asia. The researchers called for such partnerships to fast track LCL shipments, the least reliable cargo option in conventional ocean freight service.

While the MergeGlobal report looks at specific shipment types, U.S. ports on the East, West and Gulf Coasts are busy with ongoing projects to meet the growing import demand. Larger vessels and increased globalization are the driving factors.

Picking the Virginia Port Authority (www.vaports.com) as an example, the Virginia Inland Port links The Port of Virginia's Hampton Roads terminals with remote truck and rail connections, speeding the movement of containers and helping to ease port congestion. For exports, containers move by truck to the Virginia Inland Port where they are stored for a short period or placed on rail cars and moved to the Port. Imports move from the ocean vessel to a railcar to the Virginia Inland Port and onto trucks for delivery to inland destinations.

The Port is also working on enhancing its facilities to handle the new crop of post Panamax and Suez class vessels emerging in international shipping. Work includes a new wharf at the Norfolk International Terminals, installation of cranes that can handle the larger ships and reconfiguration of the container yard. Work is projected to be completed in 2012.

The Virginia Port Authority is also working with the Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS, www.nscorp.com) in developing the "Heartland Corridor." The project will permit passage of double-stack trains from The Port of Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, and from there on to Chicago and other inland destinations. The corridor will reportedly save shippers a full day-and-a-half of transit time over the current route.

CSX Intermodal (CSXI, www.csxi.com) is working to expand or improve facilities at Buffalo, N.Y., Tampa and Chicago. It will be building a new facility at Chambersburg, Pa., scheduled to open in September. The 114-acre terminal will have access to warehousing, logistics parks and an Interstate highway. CSXI's business currently consists of 66% international and 34% domestic traffic.

With strong growth in Charlotte, N.C., CSXI is upgrading its terminal there with 10,000 feet of extended tracks, more loading and unloading equipment and an extended parking area for trailers. CSXI will be upgrading technology to more efficiently move trucks and drivers through the facility.

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