The Wine and Spirits Shippers Association (WSSA), which represents some 600 members, moves quite a number of reefer containers. But despite being a major player, it doesn’t always get the kind of service it wants from carriers and ports.
Part of it has to do with rigid and outdated processes exacerbated by the application of technology. “If no gen set is available for the reefer,” commented Alison Leavitt, WSSA’s managing director, “terminals will not release the container even it’s going only 15 miles.”
Truck reservation systems at ports are meant to relieve congestion but have proved to be no panacea for TCL shippers like WSSA. They are often too rigid, leaving dray drivers in the lurch if a specific container is not available for pickup and the system doesn’t allow the driver to service another container.
“Automation doesn’t solve everything,” said Leavitt, to an audience at the port of New York and New Jersey’s 17th annual Port Industry Day in early October. “Sometimes you really need to get someone on the phone to solve a problem” but that’s increasingly difficult in today’s environment.
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