Post-Panamax vessels’ capacity to carry 13,000 TEUs has cut costs for ocean carriers by reducing the number of voyages needed to transport the same number of units compared to smaller ships. With the influx of containers discharged in a single stop, U.S. port authorities are pressured to add additional cranes and supply more chassis to match increasing volume.

In an effort to alleviate constant chassis shortages, the Federal Maritime Commission accepted a plan to create the Southern States Chassis Pool, expected to take effect by August 2nd.

Georgia and South Carolina, which historically rival one another, have been pressured to facilitate an improved chassis program to meet demand for both the Ports of Savannah and Charleston. Both have been the main drivers of getting the plan approved to provide 10,000 chassis in addition to the 53,000 currently serving the area by Consolidated Chassis Management’s South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP.)

Since 2006, SACP has been responsible for managing 40% of chassis in the Southeast area. However, there are concerns of the aging available chassis, and the safety risks they may pose. Ports and terminals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee are eligible to partner in this agreement, along with third parties, to discuss and create agreements in relation to the use of chassis and related equipment utilized in the transportation of international cargo via containers at the parties’ marine terminal facilities.

In addition to the apparent shortage, truckers have been requesting chassis with improved safety features to help reduce chassis maintenance costs.

The Southern States Chassis Pool will be operated by North American Chassis Pool Cooperative (NACPC), which will deliver premium chassis – each expected to be put in service for 20 years. Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority and Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, have both advocated the push for premium chassis equipped with LED lights, radial tires, and an antilock breaking system.

These chassis improvements are expected to help implement safer conditions, which involve the following:

  • LED Lights: Units equipped with LED lights have a reduced chance of breaking roadside requirements, as a direct result of the lights’ longevity and durability to withstand uneven roads.
  • Radial Tires: This feature is expected to decrease roadside breakdowns with improvements to puncture resistance and re-treadability.
  • Anti-Lock Braking System: Brakes give the driver better control of the chassis by completely preventing brake lock up.

Once the Southern States Chassis Pool is implemented, there will be a much-needed resource to match the increased rate at which vessels deliver cargo.

If the program is successfully executed, other ports and terminals might decide to apply similar services, especially eligible partners of the Southern States Chassis Pool. Additionally, intermodal equipment providers (IEPs) may experience greater pressure to upgrade their equipment as premium chassis become the standard to match truckers’ demands for safer resources.