In the latest in a series of measures to combat congestion, PierPass Inc. this week said that 10 of its member container terminals have agreed to establish an appointment system for trucks delivering containers to and from the terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
PierPass is a not-for-profit company created by marine terminal operators to address multi-terminal issues at the two ports, including congestion, air quality and security.
The terminals have adopted an appointment system action plan and committed to a set of common requirements. The five terminals that currently operate appointment systems have agreed to adopt these requirements, and five more terminals plan to introduce appointment systems in 2016 that will follow the same guidelines.
All the terminals have agreed that their individual appointment systems will share these rules in common:
- Appointments will be mandatory at all participating terminals. At times, appointments have been treated as optional, which has reduced the intended benefit of smoothing out truck traffic flow.
- The appointment systems will apply to import containers at all terminals. Appointments for exports are being evaluated as a potential future requirement.
- All individual terminal appointment systems will be accessible via links from PierPass’ websites.
“The increasing number of containers unloaded by larger new ships has put the traditional random-access system – where any truck can arrive at any time to pick up any container – under strain,” said John Cushing, president of PierPass. “Appointment systems are part of the growing set of tools terminals are embracing to fight congestion and reduce turn times, alongside innovations including free flow and the OffPeak program of night and Saturday truck gates.”
“Since we updated our appointment system in 2014, we have seen a marked decline in queuing at our gates and better turn times for our truckers,” said Mark Wheeler, vice president and general manager at West Basin Container Terminal (WBCT) in Los Angeles.
For truck drivers, trucking companies and cargo owners, the appointment systems will add predictability to the supply chain. The variable queue lengths at different times of the day will be flattened out, which is expected to reduce the longer truck turn times. Appointment systems also allow terminals to group appointments for specific stacks of containers, reducing the time spent waiting for container moving yard equipment to move between stacks.
“Coordinating pick-ups and deliveries with the trucking companies will increase productivity for the truckers and for our terminal operations,” said Sean Lindsay, chief operating officer of International Transportation Service (ITS) terminal in Long Beach. “Therefore, we will be implementing an appointment system in 2016 to achieve this.”