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Port of Los Angeles Broke Cargo Record in 2021

Breaking its previous calendar year record by 13 percent, the Port of Los Angeles processed about 10.7 million 20-foot containers or equivalent units (TEUs) during 2021.

Port executive director Gene Seroka announced the milestone, a Western Hemisphere record,  in his address at the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s seventh annual “State of the Port” virtual event.

“Decades of development provided the berth space, backland and rail infrastructure to process more cargo than ever before,” Seroka said. “In 2021, our marine terminal operators and workforce gave us the ability to move that cargo from the ships to railcars or out the gates on trucks and for that we are forever grateful to them.”

Recapping the year, Seroka reiterated the importance of industry coming together to address global supply chain challenges, and highlighted the port’s engagement with stakeholders at all levels of industry and government to find solutions, including the Biden-Harris administration and the office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Seroka applauded the renewed attention on and government investments in ports nationwide, including the $17 billion earmarked in the recently passed national Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the $2.3 billion Newsom has earmarked in his California state budget for the upcoming year.

“This level of funding represents a monumental opportunity for ports,” Seroka said. “Beyond freight system improvements, it will fund much-needed digital and cybersecurity infrastructure. It supports our creation of a future-ready goods movement workforce and it aligns with our mission to lead the nation in the development of zero-emissions port drayage.”

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Outlining key port initiatives on tap for 2022 and beyond, Seroka said priorities include further digitizing the supply chain and delivering digital solutions to port users. Last year, the port unveiled the Control Tower suite of data tools, expanding the Port Optimizer system developed in conjunction with Wabtec. The Control Tower aids cargo owners and service providers by delivering precise shipping intelligence and real-time insights on Port of Los Angeles cargo.

In 2022, the port will add further enhancements to the Port Optimizer and work with the Biden administration to support a national port data initiative to improve supply chain efficiency and global competitiveness.

He also emphasized the importance of workforce development and its critical contributions to the goods movement industry–from longshore labor to truck drivers and warehouse workers. The port’s planned Goods Movement Training Campus, which will focus on worker skill development, up-skilling and re-skilling to address the rapidly changing needs of the industry, received a major boost this month with a three-year,  $110 million commitment in Newsom’s proposed budget.

The first in the U.S. specifically dedicated to the goods movement industry, the campus will also serve as a state resource for training workers on greener and zero-emission technologies. Further plans for the Training Campus will be announced later this year.

Guarding against potential malicious cyber incidents that could threaten or disrupt the flow of cargo remains a continual focus for the port, Seroka said, revealing that a first-of-its-kind port cyber defense system co-developed with IBM is now in full operation. This new Cyber Resilience Center serves as an early warning system and information sharing network for port stakeholders.

The port has had a Cyber Security Operations Center for its internal systems since 2014, monitoring network traffic to prevent and detect cyber incidents under port control. The port has also maintained its ISO 27001 certification for cybersecurity, the only port to have this certification, he noted.

Reducing port environmental impacts continues to be a primary focus. The port is currently testing 107 zero-emission and 27 near-zero emission units in the areas of cargo handling, drayage, harbor craft and ocean-going vessel operations, a number that will grow to more than 200 units over the next 18 months, Seroka noted. This year, a group of manufacturers will deploy next-generation drayage trucks in and around the port.

Seroka also announced that in April the port will begin collecting the Clean Truck Fund Rate, which is expected to raise $130 million over the next three years. Those funds will be used to fund zero-emission trucks and fuel infrastructure development.