Packer Ave. Terminal Is Ready for Big Business at Philadelphia’s Port

Filed under: Featured News |

DOMINATING the river view in South Philadelphia like a second skyline, one of the new post-Panamax megacranes goes to work. Photo courtesy of PhilaPort

With nary a scratch nor splash, two giant 32-story gantry cranes arrived from a globe-crossing trek into South Philadelphia this past March. The cranes completed a 90-plus-day journey from Shanghai, China, to arrive at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal and mark the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the city and surrounding region.

In a shining example of public-private partnership, the Commonwealth and Holt Logistics Corp. are together investing a total of nearly $300 million directly into the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. These investments in technology, infrastructure, warehousing, and equipment are laying a foundation for sustainable growth that is already setting new benchmarks in container volume. As a whole, the Port of Philadelphia (PhilaPort) is experiencing record-breaking cargo volumes and reported nearly 20% container growth in 2017.

These increases are falling right in line with a number of terminal-wide improvements at Packer Avenue that are either completed or underway. These improvements, coupled with the completion of the Delaware River Deepening Project, are bringing some of the largest container ships in the world to Philadelphia. Many of these “Ultra-Large Container Vessels” were previously limited to primarily West Coast U.S. ports. But the opening of the expanded Panama Canal has greatly increased global flexibility for these giant ships, and the Packer Avenue terminal now has the capacity and tools required to handle them.

In addition to the new cranes, several new reach stackers were purchased by Greenwich Terminals, a Holt Logistics affiliate and operator of the terminal, to improve efficiency and cargo flow on the dock. Installation of 300 new reefer plugs on the terminal has increased refrigerated cargo capacity by 15%, and a new $4 million U.S. Customs & Border Patrol/Department of Agriculture inspection warehouse is currently under construction.
Technology upgrades throughout the terminal include comprehensive WiFi coverage, RFID installation on all equipment and installation of an Optical Character Recognition system, which provides real-time tracking of all cargo from ship to truck. Traditional infrastructure improvements include strengthening and electrification of the wharf to accommodate the new cranes, as well as a complete repaving of the entire terminal yard.

With an eye towards the future, more changes will be seen across the terminal in the coming year. 2019 will mark the arrival of three more super post-Panamax cranes, bringing the total number of cranes on the Packer Avenue terminal to seven. Additionally, engineering is currently underway for a new off-site replacement for the terminal’s refrigerated and dry distribution center. This new center will greatly increase terminal flexibility and efficiency in bringing a wide variety of products to market.

With steady increases in cargo volume and major improvements to visual infrastructure, the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal is poised to be the crown jewel in Philadelphia’s resurgence in the global shipping market. Holt Logistics and its client companies are proud partners in these efforts with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PhilaPort and other stakeholders to ultimately drive economic growth that benefits workers, consumers, businesses and government.

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