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OCR for page 45
Truck Turn Times 45 as a buffer. Appointment systems reinforce this metering function. Terminals make only as many appointment slots available as the CY can handle. The gate queue is currently functioning as the buffer. Some sources refer to the queue as the "holding pen," which is an accurate, if somewhat unflattering, description. Turn Time Solutions Terminal Capacity and Performance With such a large part of drayage inefficiency and delay traceable to congestion, terminal capac- ity and performance is a logical place to look for improvement. Annual terminal throughput capa- bility is less important in this connection than ability to handle surges. In particular, the ability of a terminal to sustain efficient high-volume trucking operations at the same time a vessel is being served is crucial, and often lacking. It is common to reduce the scope of drayage transactions while a vessel is being worked, either by restricting operations, such as empty returns, or by closing off busy areas of the terminal. Drayage drivers may find gates understaffed, lift machines busy, and clerks preoccupied with other tasks on vessel days. One promising approach is to design the terminal so truck and vessel operations do not overlap or share equipment. The APM Portsmouth terminal and the proposed Ports America terminal for Oakland are examples of designs with container stacks perpendicular to the vessel. These stacks are served by one set of gantries to load and unload the vessel from the berth end, and by a second set of gantries to load and unload drayage trucks on the CY end. Such large-scale investment and reconfiguration is beyond the short-term need and capability of most port terminals. More modest means of improvement would include enough efficient lift equipment and staffing to handle both vessels and trucks in existing configurations. If the gate throughput capacity is the same as the terminal CY throughput capacity, there may be no point in speeding up the gates, since it would merely result in CY delays instead. From the terminal's perspective, there is no need to improve gate throughput since, as long as there is one limiting factor, overall efficiency is compromised. However, from the drayage driver's perspec- tive, they would still like to see congestion-free gates because then they at least have a chance of getting through within an acceptable time window provided they are not particularly unlucky within the terminal. If the gate capacity is less than the terminal capacity, then the gates are a bottleneck and a case can be made for speeding them up or opening more when a queue develops. Speeding up the gates through institutional or technological means is probably a long-term solution and would apply to all days and all gates. Likewise, building more gates would be a long-term endeavor. Port Community Meetings Regular meetings between port or terminal officials and major dray companies are an effective strategy for identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies. The introduction of Web-accessible termi- nal information also has been an effective strategy for providing dray companies and drivers with greater information as to port processes. The working relationship between all of the parties involved improves with regular contact and communication. Although terminal operators do not earn more revenue for faster drayage turns, they do bear the additional costs for clerical handling of trouble tickets and additional CY staffing or equipment to handle congestion.

OCR for page 45
46 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide For over 20 years, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has been conven- ing semi-monthly port user group meetings. These meetings include ocean carriers, marine termi- nal operators, International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) representatives, drayage firms, customers, and third parties. The meetings provide a venue for announcing and discussing planned developments and changes, solving problems, and forging an ongoing working relationship between the parties. In the observation of the research team, these meetings have resulted in a far better mutual understanding of concerns and goals. The longevity and regularity of these meetings also has given the Port Authority and its staff much deeper insight into the operations and con- cerns of the port community than would be gained from occasional issue-based meetings. The Port of Houston Authority also has convened periodic meetings with drayage firms and both parties report these meetings to be valuable and productive. Such meetings do not solve every problem. The differing interests and goals of the parties make some degree of conflict all but inevitable. The meetings do facilitate solutions when solutions are possible, and encourage cooperation and communication on other less controversial matters. Segment by Segment Improvements Overall turn times are made up of multiple time segments: gate queuing, gate processing, chas- sis supply, CY operations, etc. Each of these time segments is treated in the guidebook chapters that follow. A comprehensive approach to drayage turn time reduction would entail identifying and prioritizing the drayage activity segments with the greatest delays and addressing them individu- ally. Care must be taken, however, to acknowledge and manage tradeoffs.