Changing U.S. Intermodal Chassis Operations

The United States has always been an anomaly worldwide in terms of providing chassis for the movement of intermodal containers. The general practice in other countries is that the intermodal chassis are provided by motor carriers, terminals, or shippers. For reasons having to do with the development of intermodalism for ocean borne containers in the U.S., chassis are generally provided by ocean carriers in the U.S. This is so despite the fact that the ocean carriers rarely have physical control of the chassis, as they are typically in the care and custody of motor carriers, rail or marine terminals, or shippers.

Over the past two years, a number of ocean carriers have announced plans or intentions to change the way they provide intermodal chassis. Thus, certain carriers have indicated they will limit or eliminate their role in providing chassis for inland transport. The changes in chassis provisioning practices will involve a number of revisions to existing operational arrangements by industry stakeholders. OCEMA is committed to working with carriers and other stakeholders to seek to ensure any transition occurs as smoothly as possible.

In response to requests from its members and industry stakeholders, OCEMA has been conducting internal reviews of various intermodal locations to help ensure the stability of the chassis supply and encourage multiple options as sources of supply. OCEMA also encourages ocean carriers and other stakeholders to provide timely and useful operational information to each other to assist affected parties in preparing for change.

In order to address industry concerns and help to ensure a stable and transparent operating environment, OCEMA has undertaken the following actions:

  • Conducting outreach to stakeholders and establishing a response mechanism to address questions from concerned parties FAQ

  • Compiled a Summary of Ocean Carrier Chassis Announcements, a summary of actions and public announcements by various carriers
  • Conducted reviews of various locations, and based on these reviews, developed a Suggested Location Schedule of when these assessments are expected to be completed

    • Carriers considering changes in their chassis provisioning models may wish to use this data as a guideline in considering implementation schedules

  • Cooperative chassis pools operated by OCEMA's affiliate, Consolidated Chassis Management LLC, has undertaken efforts to implement more efficient and streamlined procedures, enhance their ability to meet peak demand, and to add additional entities to make chassis available to the public. You can visit the Consolidated Chassis Management LLC site by clicking here.

OCEMA believes that changing the chassis provisioning model to the standard used worldwide will lead to a more efficient, safer, environmentally sound, and cost effective intermodal transport system in the United States. However, there is no "one size fits all" aproach to providing chassis. For commercial and operational reasons, each ocean carrier will independently determine the best aproach to take based on their individual circunstances, customer needs, commercial objectives, and operational requirements.