Inbound Logistics | May 2022

“It is essential that both parties up their game in terms of total communication,” Fisher says. “Transactional communication and relationship management need to increase to ensure both parties get what they need from their relationships.” Timely and accurate data is key to fluid intermodal operations, as indicated by the various data initiatives that both the private and public sectors have launched, Casey says. To date, however, what’s been missing is a cohesive, coordinated effort to meld the information collected—either by mode and/or region—and create a comprehensive North American freight transportation data initiative. That’s changing, with “an unprecedented level of cooperation aimed at creating new capacity, supported by 2021’s bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Casey says. One example is the launch in late 2021 of the Federal Maritime Commision’s (FMC) Maritime Data Infrastructure initiative. The initiative will “focus on identifying data constraints that impede the flow of ocean cargo and add to supply chain inefficiencies. It also aims to establish data standards and best practices for data access and transmission essential for a reliable and stable ocean transportation system,” according to an FMC release. LOOKING AHEAD Given increased cargo flows, intermodal will continue to play a vital role in transportation. “All modes— including rail, truck, and barge—are levers we will rely on,” says Michael Bozza, assistant director, commercial development, with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Among the factors driving intermodal growth will be capacity build out, technology advancements, and ongoing truck driver and equipment shortages, among other factors. All of these will lead many shippers to consider intermodal. “Intermodal still represents a powerful tool for any shipper seeking to employ a sound logistics strategy,” Maharaj says.

Port Tampa Bay handles more than 33 million tons of cargo annually and encompasses more than 5,000 acres, making it Florida’s largest port in terms of tonnage and area. As part of the recent expansion of its container terminal facilities, Port Tampa Bay added 13,000 linear feet of rail, allowing for on-dock intermodal service.

What really sets Port Tampa Bay apart is the diverse nature of the cargo it handles, including bulk, breakbulk and containerized cargo, along with energy products, building materials, consumer goods, and food and beverage products. “Having such diversified lines of business results in strong financial performance, allowing the port to invest in facilities to meet the growing demand,” Alfonso says. In addition, more than 400 distribution centers, spanning 380 million square feet, dot the Tampa Bay/Orlando area. “In the past few years, this region has emerged as Florida’s distribution hub, home to the largest concentration of DCs in the state,” Alfonso says. As the closest port to serve this region, Port Tampa Bay allows importers and exporters to enjoy substantial savings in drayage costs, as drivers can make multiple round-trip deliveries per day to the nearby distribution centers. Moreover, expanded global container services, including direct services from Asia, as well as new services from Latin America, offer importers and exporters a supply chain solution that’s more efficient than what’s often available at other, more congested ports, Alfonso adds. As part of the recent expansion of its container terminal facilities, Port Tampa Bay added 13,000 linear feet of rail, allowing for on-dock intermodal service.

“While challenges exist, the collective commitment of intermodal stakeholders to address their piece of the supply chain and work with their partners will provide resiliency once the current unprecedented volumes of freight start to temper,” Casey says. PORT TAMPA BAY: RIDING HIGH ON LONG-TERM GROWTH PLANS Florida continues to rank as one of the most rapidly growing states in the United States. An estimated 1,000 people move into the Sunshine State each day, while every year, about 200,000 new households are created, boosting demand for new homes, home improvement and construction materials, food products, and other consumer goods. Within Florida, about half the population calls the Tampa Bay region and the nearby Highway I-4 corridor home. “Port Tampa Bay has planned for this growth and has in place the infrastructure needed to grow as the population continues to surge,” says Raul Alfonso, executive VP and CCO. It’s Florida’s largest port in terms of tonnage, handling more than 33 million tons of cargo annually, as well as area—the port encompasses more than 5,000 acres. Because terminals extend for miles, shippers largely avoid the congested gates and long lines seen at other ports.

96 Inbound Logistics • May 2022

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