To better understand how freight flows in the United States, FreightWaves data scientists recently completed a study of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The scientists sifted through vast quantities of GPS data to find out more about the origins and destinations of trucks that move container freight out of the ports. The researchers were also interested to find out how quickly a container box can make its way into a retailer’s network of distribution centers.
The research data included tens of thousands of GPS pings from the first half of 2018 in the ports themselves. The GPS pings were used to see where the trucks went in the first 48 hours after leaving the port. It was found that 83% of the trucks associated with port activity remained in Southern California over the next two days, many of them headed east of Los Angeles to the Ontario market, where real estate is somewhat less expensive and distribution centers are more plentiful.
At the distribution center much of the freight is then unloaded, inspected, processed, repackaged, arranged onto pallets and reloaded onto LTL trucks for their linehauls to smaller hubs or even retail locations.
Of all the freight that starts out at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, almost a fifth of it then hits the interstate to move further into distribution networks. Coming out of the ports, trucks went up I-5 to Seattle, I-15 to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, I-40 to Albuquerque, and I-10 to Phoenix.
The ultimate aim of the study is to better asses the efficiency of freight networks in the United States, help shippers understand which of their facilities are clogging their supply chains, and provide carriers entering contract freight negotiations better information about the costs they may incur in moving freight for specific shippers on specific lanes.