Doing whatever it takes

  • Doing whatever it takes

    Oakland, CA-based GSC Logistics using latest technology to sustain profitability

    We’re operating in an Amazon economy,” said Brandon Taylor, director of transportation at GSC Logistics. “Shippers, distributors and their customers want goods delivered an hour ago, and they want real time visibility into loads. Our biggest challenge today is keeping up with those demands.”

    For GSC, technology and stream- lined operating practices are ad- dressing those needs. In its drayage operation, the Oakland, CA-based logistics services provider uses planning capabilities in its Trinium-TMS enterprise software to manage loads. “At the ports, appointment systems are relieving congestion by replacing the rush of trucks at marine terminals when container volumes increase,” Taylor related. “Those programs and predictive dispatching are now benefiting drivers and customers.”

    GSC Logistics, which provides container transportation services for ocean and intermodal cargo, has drayage operations in Oakland, and Seattle and Tacoma (WA) where it utilizes about 250 owner-operators for hauls into and out of port facilities. In Oakland, it also has five company tractors that handle port shuttle and rail yard and terminal transfers, and some loads within about 75 miles of the facility.

    “Fielding a fleet and hiring drivers for drayage work is not feasible because of the ebb and flow of container volumes, but we do have our own chassis,” Taylor explained. “While steamship lines are getting away from including pool chassis rentals in contracts, we found that equipment was not always available or reliable and that having chassis at our facilities greatly reduces time for drivers.”

    Leased from a number of suppliers, the GSC chassis fleet consists of about 450 CIMC units ranging in size from 20 to 45 ft. The models are fitted with the latest brake and suspension systems, LED lighting and radial tires, and GPS tracking, Taylor notes, increasing their safety and durability. Local service providers handle maintenance and inspections on the chassis at GSC locations.

    For its company tractors, GSC leases two diesel-powered Peterbilt day cabs from PacLease and recently started replacing its other leased power units with all-electric models from BYD Motors. For the past 18 months, it has been using a BYD tractor and is now expecting delivery of two of the manufacturer’s second-generation vehicles.

    The Class 8 BYD 8TT tandem axle tractor with a 105,000-lb. GCWR is driven by proprietary motor and regenerative braking systems.

    The truck has 483 hp. and 1,770 lbs.-ft. of torque, and with increased battery capacity, the second-generation model has a 125-mile fully loaded range.

    “We had an opportunity to use grant funds from the California Air Resources Board to reduce our cost of acquiring the trucks,” Taylor said. “We’re also taking part in a study to determine if zero-emission trucks could replace diesels in drayage operations. We’re eager to be part of an initiative that will help save money and improve air quality.

    “For the first BYD truck, we worked with the manufacturer to modify its design for port shuttle operations,” Taylor continued. “For example, our drivers need to hook and unhook chassis a minimum of five to as many as 15 times each day, so we discussed how the tractor’s fifth wheel deck height could be lower.

    “With that input, BYD fabricated ramps on the frame rails, so chassis could slide into place,” Taylor said. “In addition, the length of the rear frame was shortened. On the second-generation trucks, a driver-controlled air suspension will easily allow the tractor to get underneath a low chassis.”

    For its next two BYD all-electric tractors, GSC is installing additional charging stations at its Oakland facility. The trucks will be charged at night in about four hours using the new systems.

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