Pop-up container yards offer pressure valve for port congestion

US retailer Walmart has developed a pop-up container yard in an empty space near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It will store containers off dock and alleviate the pressure the ports have come under since import volumes rebounded so heavily last year.

The move also means that the company would avoid dwell time fines, should they be introduced.

Walmart EVP supply chain operations Joe Metzger said that what had been an empty lot four weeks ago was now processing more than 500 containers a day, helping to sort through priority freight for Walmart’s downstream operations.

The expectation was that the import boom was transient in nature and these facilities would disappear when ‘normality’ returns to the supply chains into the US.

On the other side of the country the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) was setting up inland container stations to alleviate the congestion on its docks.

If the concept was successful the GPA planned over the next few weeks to open four or five more ad hoc container facilities around the state. It had also been involved in talks with railway company CSX about establishing a storage site in North Carolina.

To be viable the pop-up container yards have to be fenced, for security reasons, and need a manned gate for processing. If containers have to be stacked, the surface has to be sufficiently strong and a reach stacker is required.

Earlier this year both Long Beach and Oakland ports signed partnership agreements with the Utah Inland Port Authority, with a primary focus on boosting flows between the ports and the inland facility. This would see boxes sitting and waiting on the docks for shorter periods.