Georgia is on the mind of many supply chain professionals. The state has proven itself time and time again that it has the infrastructure and resources to make it an ideal logistics location. The Port of Savannah is an integral part of many supply chains. It is a center point where roads, rail, ocean, and air connect to give access to domestic and international markets. In 2015 total cargo moved through Georgia reached 31.7 million tons1. It’s no surprise that this area has continuously been recognized as a top business environment and companies have taken notice. In response, Georgia has taken steps to further improve its infrastructure and logistics appeal.
The Port of Savannah – Deep with Opportunity
One of the biggest logistical benefits of Georgia is the Port of Savannah, which is one of the top ports in North America and the second busiest U.S. container port, number one being LA, offering 38 shipping services2. Last year the port offered relief for many shippers when the west coast ports became congested. The port was able to handle the immense volume and continue to improve its capabilities. Since September of last year, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) has been underway, dredging the port to improve accessibility for larger, post-panamax ships3. Georgia Port Authority plans to invest $142 million for port improvements including new cranes, container storage, equipment, and new terminal gates in 20164.
Road Infrastructure Improvements
The Savannah area is an attractive location for more than its ocean access; it’s also in an ideal location for easy access to highways and roads. Savannah has immediate access to two major interstates, I-16 that goes to east and west and I-95 that goes north to south. In a four-hour drive you can reach major markets including Atlanta, Orlando, and Charlotte. Interstates within Georgia give direct routes to 15 other states and in just two days you can reach 80% of the U.S. population5. Georgia recognizes its importance to transportation efforts and has a statewide strategic transportation initiative underway to improve infrastructure. This plan includes the Jimmy Deloach Parkway extension, which will include widening of Interstate 16 and establishing truck-only lanes on I-756. These initiatives will help improve shipping time.
Railroad Terminal Expansions
Twenty percent of freight coming into the Port of Savannah leaves over the rail7. There are two Class I railroads that run through the area; Norfolk Southern and CSX. Combined these lines contain 5,000 miles of track8. To offer more rail services the Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) was recently signed off on which will be in Chatsworth, Georgia and service northern Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky. This new terminal will provide a direct link to the Port of Savannah and will be close to major highways including 1-75. With an expected open date in 2018, the facility will handle import, export, and domestic cargo with an expected annual capacity of 50,000 containers with future plans to double capacity over the following 10 years9.
Expanding Refrigeration Capabilities
The Port of Savannah has the largest selection of ocean carrier services on the east coast, making it a top port for refrigerated export cargo. Today the port offers over 1,900 reefer rack slots. Nearby at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal, it offers 84 refrigerated container racks, 733 chassis plug-ins, and can power over 2,700 refrigerated boxes at a time. The terminal is also looking to add more space and capabilities in a $5.85 million dollar project that was recently approved10.
The Port of Savannah is also participating in a pilot program to improve the import of fruit and vegetables from Latin America. Previously, these perishables would be shipping from their origin to northern ports to accommodate for concerns over pests and fruit flies. Once north, the products were then shipped south using trucks or by rail. To improve this process the port is working on new technology to safeguard the perishables using its already existing reefer capabilities paired with its transportation network11. If this continues, Savannah can offer a huge advantage for the south to gain fresh perishables quickly and cost effectively.
Distribution Centers Reap Location Benefits
Georgia isn’t only ideal for transporting goods, but storing them as well. Being that the area offers so many transportation opportunities, many have realized the benefits of setting up their distribution centers in the area as well. The Savannah area has the largest concentration of import distribution centers on the east coast. There is over three million sq. ft. of warehouse space available within 30 miles of the port. Within a 300 mile radius around the Savannah area is a population of 28 million residents in 11 metro areas12. The access to many modes of transportation means customers can easily be reached and freight can easily be received.
With help from many private and public partnerships, the Savannah area is beginning to see infrastructure improvements. The area, already equipped with a great location, will now also be equipped with the capabilities to handle capacity from all over the world in various industries.