A balance of technology and talent keeps AMPORTS an auto industry leader
An award-winning leader in the global automotive services industry, AMPORTS is also one of the largest auto processors on the continent. Their robust network of port and terminal facilities in the U.S. and Mexico serves the industry’s largest OEMs with seamless logistics that include an array of value-added solutions. For over six decades, the Jacksonville, Fla.,-based multimodal experts have managed the movement of everything from passenger cars to heavy industrial vehicles for customers around the world.
The company’s portside operations are strategically located to provide convenient access to land transport links and distribution networks in major metro areas, using a combination of owned and long-term leased facilities to support its steady growth.
Their vehicle processing services include full-service body work, unlimited accessory installation, washing and detailing, storage, parts handling, repairs and reconditioning, and real-time digital vehicle tracking. The ISO 9001:2015 certified logistics specialists also offer roll-on/roll-off terminal services, import and export processing, high and heavy cargo handling, privately owned vehicle transportation, and homologation services.
In addition to its main headquarters in Jacksonville, AMPORTS serves its customers from port facilities in Florida, Maryland, Texas, and California. Their Mexico operations include port facilities in Altamira and Lazaro Cardenas, and an inland rail-head facility in Toluca. At present, the enterprise handles over 1.5 million vehicles annually, and that number is expected to exceed 1.6 million this year.
Their newest endeavor, a brand-new facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, is currently under construction. Located in Antioch, the complex will support the company’s operation in nearby Benecia and offers direct service by BNSF Railway, one of the largest rail networks in North America. Situated on the site of an inactive paper mill, the facility will support its existing services across the Pacific and will help serve the demands of the burgeoning electric vehicle market.
“AMPORTS Antioch will help with port congestion on the West Coast,” said Ben Buben, the company’s COO. “In addition to supplementing what Benecia is currently doing, it adds capacity on the auto and EV side.” A member of the Green Ports Steering Committee for San Francisco, the company is dedicated to minimizing the site’s carbon footprint, investing in charging stations and renewables.
The initial buildout phase includes a 40-acre terminal with a large processing center and berth; an additional 60-plus acres available for development expands the footprint to 120 acres. Construction is on track to wrap in Q4 2022. Antioch recently welcomed the arrival of the Siem Socrates pure car and truck carrier, a box-like, 11-deck, 600 ft-long behemoth designed to carry large quantities of passenger cars and trucks.
Merging technology and teamwork
Precise tracking is essential to managing the movement of millions of vehicles, and technology makes it happen. State-of-the-art yard management software underpins all of the work taking place at each location, giving workers the real-time information they need to effectively move assets through processing.
Inform, a developer of intelligent vehicle yard management optimization technology systems, is currently developing new software for AMPORTS that will further enhance their existing yard management technology. “Going forward, Inform’s technology is going to be a significant strategic part of our operations,” Buben said.
Upon joining AMPORTS two years ago, Buben set out to build efficiencies in the company’s operations, starting with the creation of a Lean Six Sigma-certified process improvement team. The team monitors each location to ensure that their processes meet customers’ needs and confirms that each facility is operating to the same standards and protocols.
“This quick hit team ensures that every location is running the same way,” he explained. Routines for daily and weekly planning and training are nearly identical across the board, and close attention is paid to maximizing synergies with their customers at every hub. That consistency also acts as a reliable gauge of the high-quality performance AMPORTS is known for.
“Our whole job is quality and velocity,” he added. Vehicles move through processing in one to three days and are either moved to dealers by overland transportation or rolled on to a vessel for shipping to another country. To that end, cutting-edge yard management technology will provide real-time analytics for berth management, inbound rail, and inbound and outbound trucking.
As automotive technology becomes increasingly complex, AMPORTS leverages some of those advancements to better serve their OEM customers. “Many of today’s auto manufacturers have location technology in their cars, and our yard management system lets us tie into that so we can ping a vehicle and find exactly where it's parked,” he said.
Despite being a tech-driven operation, the human touch is an important operational aspect, from maintaining strong partnerships with port authorities, to making sure employees keep a healthy work-life balance. “Our main strategic partnerships are with the ports themselves,” he stressed. “When we need more space or whatever the need may be, those partners step up no matter the time of day, and they always find a way to do it. They are huge partners for us.”
When it comes to their workforce, AMPORTS maintains a culture of integrity and belonging, “I could have the best plan in the world, but without the great teams here at AMPORTS none of it would be possible, whether from frontline workers or senior leadership,” Buben said.
“Every single day, our frontline workers are the ones making the changes, so making sure that they are all happy, healthy, spending enough time with their families and having a healthy work-life balance, is extremely important to us.”
From his perspective, the frontline is the bottom line. “With everything that we provide here for the health, safety, and wellness of our employees, as well as our family atmosphere, we are a great workplace.”
Our global vision is to be the Premier Automotive Services Company with a perpetual commitment to quality, safety, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction.
For over 60 years, AMPORTS has been a leader in the automotive processing industry.
With 11 locations in the United States and Mexico, AMPORTS is one of the largest automotive servicing companies in North America.
AMPORTS processes over one million vehicles annually. All our terminals have easy access to rail networks and highways.
Our facilities are located in key geographical locations enabling imports, exports, and local distribution of cars.