They said it couldn’t be done.
“They were wrong,” said Steven Neal, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.
Long Beach Container Terminal and the Port held a grand opening Aug. 20 to celebrate the completion of the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project. The modernization project has transformed two aging terminals into one of the world’s most technologically advanced container terminals.
Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor is a 300-acre facility powered almost entirely by electricity that can handle up to 3.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually. On its own, it would rank as America’s sixth-busiest container port.
“This engineering marvel sets a new standard for international shipping, goods movement and many other industries,” said Port executive director Mario Cordero. “It is a global model of efficiency and sustainability.”
From concept to construction, LBCT and the Port partnered to develop this state-of-the-art terminal. The process has taken about the same number of years it takes a student to get from preschool to college, with LBCT functioning as a working terminal the whole time. “We chose to do the right thing the right way. We can proudly and confidently state we are the cleanest container terminal in North America,” said LBCT CEO Anthony Otto.
Built in three phases, Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor represents an investment of nearly $1.5 billion in infrastructure by the Port and another $700 million in cargo handling equipment, highly sophisticated computer and software systems, and workforce training by LBCT. Now that the final phase is opening, LBCT has more than double the capacity of the two terminals it replaced.
“Efficiency is everything,” said Otto. “We designed the yard so that we can move more TEUs per acre.” While a traditional container terminal typically handles 6,000 to 8,000 TEUs per acre, the ultramodern LBCT facility can process 12,000 to 15,000 TEUs per acre. “It makes us, the Port of Long Beach and every link in our supply chain more competitive.”
Highlights include a 4,200-foot long wharf where up to three 14,000-TEU ships can plug into shore power and be worked simultaneously; 14 of the world’s first tandem-lift dual-hoist ship-to-shore cranes, each of which can discharge or load four TEUs at the same time and handle up to 35 container moves per hour; 102 electrified automated guided vehicles that transport containers between the docks and the yard; and 72 electric automatic stacking cranes that manage container staging, priorities and movements. Next-generation technology streamlines container moves by allowing the terminal to stage and stack inbound, outbound and empty containers together; and advanced computer systems optimize every move each piece of equipment makes in coordination with every other piece of equipment.
Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor also has the on-dock rail yard capacity to move more than one million TEUs annually. Consisting of eight working tracks and four storage tracks operated by five rail mounted electric gantry cranes, the rail yard is one of the world’s largest, where over one-mile-long trains can be built on-site, allowing up to 35% of containers to be transported by rail. On the trucking side, the terminal has two gates, 37 dedicated truck lanes with kiosk connectivity to the terminal’s service system, and space for additional staging to avoid traffic congestion and bottlenecks.
“It’s awesome,” said Fred Johring, president of Golden State Logistics and chairman of the Harbor Trucking Association. LBCT’s application programming interfaces – software that lets different systems talk to each other – make booking appointments for imports significantly easier. The terminal’s APIs have also reduced turn times, which typically average 35 minutes. Faster turns mean higher productivity and more income for drivers, he said. “The drivers love to fly through the gate.”
Cargo owners also love to have their goods fly through the supply chain and reach their customers swiftly and safely. LBCT incorporates precisely the kind of smart technology and innovation that address the critical needs of port retail customers relying on the supply chain to get their finished goods to market and components to manufacturers.
“The Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor is a great example of the kind of modernization that is needed at our nation’s ports,” said Jess Dankert, vice president of supply chain for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Based in Washington, D.C., RILA represents more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers with more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales that support millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers in the U.S. and abroad. “The efficiencies created here will have positive ripple effects throughout supply chains.”
The key to improving the flow of cargo is adding capacity, which the Port of Long Beach and LBCT have succeeded in doing using groundbreaking technology, said global trade economist Dr. Walter Kemmsies of The Kemmsies Group. “New technologies had to be invented to make LBCT work. This terminal is a serious achievement for the economy, international trade and the environment.”
Although LBCT has not been immune from the delays during the post-pandemic cargo surge, modernization has positioned it to weather the storm better than most, Otto said. “The new technology has already proven itself many times over.”
Middle Harbor is also driving economic growth beyond the Port. The additional cargo moving through the terminal is generating an estimated 14,000 new jobs across the nation. The new terminal is proof that the port industry can increase efficiency, reduce pollution and boost the economy. “We’ve shown it can be done,” said Otto. “We are almost a decade ahead of where the Port of Long Beach and California want all marine container terminals to be in 2030.”
Learn more at polb.com.