Port of Long Beach will study automation’s impact on city

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

An excerpt from American Shipper

The Long Beach City Council has directed the city’s harbor department to conduct a study on the economic impact of port automation on the city.

The council voted 8-0 to order the study at its Aug. 20 meeting. It’s the latest in a series of studies and legislation proposals having to do with automation in the wake of a failed effort by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to prevent APM Terminals from installing robotic equipment at its terminal at Pier 400 in the neighboring Port of Los Angeles.

Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson noted that the Port of Long Beach, the second-largest container port in the U.S. in 2018, is an economic driver for the region and that the transition to automation at the port “has a lot of people on edge.”

The massive Long Beach Container Terminal in the port’s middle harbor is one of the most automated in the United States. In April it was acquired by a consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners after the U.S. government required the sale of the terminal as a condition of COSCO Ship Holding’s purchase of Orient Overseas Container Line and its parent company.

Richardson said the city wants to know if higher levels of automation at the Port of Long Beach is likely to be a “five- or 40-year conversation” and “if automation were to be fully realized, what does that mean? … Are we looking at a port that doesn’t have very many connections to local jobs?”