W hen the biggest vessels ever to visit US ports began to arrive in early 2015, loaded with record numbers of containers, terminal operators scrambled to ensure they could handle the cargo volume.
With labour unrest enveloping the ports at the same time, it was a combination that threatened to slow the port of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest and busiest port, to a crawl. By planning ahead, making detailed forecasts and not promising more than it could deliver, APM Terminals Los Angeles was able to handle the crunch and emerge with record business growth and impressive safety improvements.
“It was an incredibly challenging environment, to manage a labour dispute while at the same time handling record vessel sizes and volume, but we also knew it was the best opportunity for us to demonstrate to our customers we are the best terminal operator in San Pedro Bay,” says Steven Trombley, Managing Director of APM Terminals Los Angeles.
The anchors of shipping networks
APM Terminals operates 15 of its 63 terminals in mature markets – 10 in Europe and five in the US. These markets have been characterised by lower economic growth rates, and as such have been a steadily shrinking segment of APM Terminals’ portfolio in recent years.
Yet the mature market ports remain incredibly important. Ports like Rotterdam, Algeciras, Los Angeles, New York and others are anchors for the vessel networks of global shipping line customers like Maersk Line, CMA CGM and MSC.
“In 2013 and 2014, the industry had become bored with mature markets. The developing markets took all of the attention with steep growth rates,” says Wim Lagaay, Head of the USA & Europe Portfolio for APM Terminals. “While Europe didn’t have the same growth as the US in 2015, it was nonetheless a reminder of the importance of continuing to invest in these markets and of maintaining a geographical balance in our portfolio.”