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MOTSU moves ahead! New equipment supports more efficient cargo handling at Sunny Point.

New equipment procured at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point is expected to save money and improve the container throughput capability in the terminal.

The purchase of the new container and material handling equipment was based on a 2003 modernization plan and a Department of Defense requirement to transship 10,000 containers in 14 days.

In 2002, Col. Ronald P. Heiter, the MOTSU commander at the time, wrote his vision statement that included a five year equipment recapitalization program as part of a larger plan to decrease operating costs, increase productivity, enhance customer service, and support the DOD requirement. This initiative has continued to be vigorously implemented by MOTSU personnel and the current commander, Col. James A. Chen.

"This is an evolving plan. We are constantly reassessing it as requirements evolve and lessons are learned. Do we need to add equipment or reevaluate what we are planning to purchase based on mission requirements? If extra funding becomes available we can move ahead of our time-line," said Chen. "We need the proper tools to keep operations efficient and safe while moving into the 21st century."

DOD has been gradually moving to 100 percent containerization of munitions since the early 1970s. Ninety percent of the ammunition that now comes through MOTSU is containerized. Among the goals of the MOTSU Strategic Plan, published last year, is to improve efficiency of the terminal by upgrading operational processes, developing automated cargo management systems, and procuring installation support equipment to support the near exclusive use of containers.

As a result, the terminal is beginning to turn the corner in transforming from a purely break-bulk terminal to a full-fledged container terminal.

"We knew we had to maximize the movement of containers to keep the ship working and the way to do that was to move two twenty-foot containers at a time," said Steve Kerr, the transportation manager at MOTSU. "We did a cost benefit analysis of double loading also known as picking, which showed we could move 1,856 containers in eight days instead of 12 by double picking. Other studies have shown similar results."

"Our former fleet of 40- foot chassis was not capable of handling double picked loads of up to 105,820 lbs. We had to focus on procuring the right equipment to do the job. We started looking for commercially available container handling and materiel handling equipment through the Defense Logistics Agency's Prime Vendor ... which made the procurement process extremely efficient," said Kerr.

The cornerstone of the new equipment procurement plan was to purchase commercially available equipment capable of moving two containers loaded at maximum gross weight. This included Mi-Jack reach stackers, yard tractors, spreader bars, container handlers, and 45-foot corner-less side gathering bomb-carts. The 45-foot port chassis (bomb-carts) increases productivity and saves time and money because it can haul two containers at once and it eliminates the need for additional labor to remove twist locks under the crane.

"The goal is to keep the yard tractors and chassis moving, utilizing one chassis to continuously move two containers," said Chuck Shadid, chief of the logistics division at MOTSU. "This saves at least two minutes per container because the driver does not have to unhook the chassis and retrieve another one. The containers will simply be off loaded on a holding pad instead of remaining uploaded on a chassis. This is where we gain additional efficiency."

The terminal is planning to eliminate seven hundred old 1960's vintage 20-foot chassis and replace them with twenty-four. 45-foot bomb cart port chassis. As a result of these new purchases there will be fewer pieces of equipment and fewer numbers of fleets resulting in a n-lore streamlined maintenance process. Twelve bomb carts have already been purchased as well as 12-yard tractors to pull them.

Additional improvements include a refurbishment of a container transfer crane and the purchase of a new $3 million rail mounted transfer crane. Both cranes facilitate the use of rail into the terminal that lowers second destination transportation and port handling cost. The current fleet of gas and electric forklifts are being replaced with commercial diesel forklifts better suited for heavier weighted ammunition containers and both MOTSU PACECO wharf cranes have been refurbished.

There are also plans to upgrade rail spurs to accommodate current industry rail fleets by fiscal year 2006 and funds have been programmed in fiscal year 2007 to convert the Center Wharf from a break-bulk capable wharf to a container capable wharf with three container cranes to better service today's commercial container vessels. The new equipment is already proving its mettle.

Operation Iraqi Freedom exports and the recent reset of the Army and Air Force Amino Preposition Afloat programs have provided ample opportunity to practice new business processes that this new equipment supports.

While the 2003 Strategic Plan outlines the vision and road map for equipment recapitalizaiion, it is the MOTSU operations staff, logistics personnel, and the stevedore contractor who are pushing to leverage efficiency from this new equipment. When the full complement of equipment is on hand and the new container wharf is built at the current Center Wharf with its three new container cranes, it is fully expected that a savings of 50 percent can be achieved in time and money. There is a new excitement at MOTSU as it works hard to transform itself from a 20th Century break-bulk facility to a 21st Century container terminal with state of the art equipment, business processes, and management tools.

Maj. Karen Conley, Operations Officer

597th Transportation Terminal Group
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Title Annotation:Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point
Author:Conley, Karen
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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