Pressing need for importers to pull containers
Container volume continues to break records at Port Houston. Total container volume in August was 382,842 TEUs, which is 20% more than the same month last year and an increase of 47,476 TEUs over May 2022, previously the biggest month for containers at Port Houston. Loaded container imports reached 180,132, a 13% increase this year compared to last. In total, Port Houston has handled 2,608,405 TEUs year-to-date, a 17% increase over last year’s record numbers.
The growth seen at Port Houston outpaces that of other major U.S. container ports. The National Retail Federation’s Global Port Tracker recently reported that through July import volume is up 21% at Port Houston and only 4% overall in the U.S.
“Port Houston is committed to meeting the challenge of historic cargo demand and providing a cost-efficient and vital gateway for America’s maritime cargo,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “We are investing in people and infrastructure to meet our customers’ needs. We are expediting the development of container yard space and wharves, and are adding equipment like ship-to-shore cranes and rubber-tired gantry cranes to maintain efficiency as we expand terminal capacity.”
With more import containers than ever before, dwell is a challenge at Port Houston’s Bayport and Barbours Cut terminals. On average import dwell has doubled and is now six days, compared to two or three in the past. The recent addition of Saturday gates offers an option for importers to retrieve their containers from 0800 – 1700 every Saturday. In addition, Port officials are exploring an Excessive Dwell Fee leveraged on containers that stay at the terminal longer than the free time outlined in the tariff.
“We are asking our customers to take advantage of these additional Saturday hours of service, pull your containers quickly, and consider adapting procedures to work with us toward the common end goal of efficiency throughout the supply chain,” said Guenther.
Total tonnage at Port Houston’s facilities is up 24% for the year through August. Steel imports have been particularly strong this year and are up 83% year to date through August. Auto import tonnage was up 50% for the month of August but remain down 9% for the year compared to last year.