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58 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Table 72. Variability in trucking company trouble ticket ratios. Transactions % Trouble Trucking Company Total trips per trip Tickets A 1124 1.2 2.2% B 2649 1.7 2.5% C 1210 1.3 3.7% D 1146 1.4 3.9% E 2878 1.2 4.4% F 1329 1.4 5.6% G 1193 1.5 8.5% themselves at an unfamiliar terminal if the customer changes lines, or if the chosen ocean carrier changes terminals. Pragmatically, a truck driver who only occasionally visits a marine terminal may not be able to justify spending the time and effort to learn the system, especially if the system might change by the time of his next visit. Moreover, a 30-minute delay at the port may not be significant to a driver delivering export cotton on an overnight trip from another state. Drayage firms are not all equally committed to the same high level of professionalism found in the leading companies. Some customers and ocean carriers continue to purchase drayage service solely on the basis of cost, creating a niche for drayage operators who cut corners and leave drivers with the burden of delay. This niche is shrinking, as increasingly stringent safety, insur- ance, and environmental rules require increased professionalism and commitment. The best drayage firms do the following: · Make good use of terminal and port information systems; · Train and retain good drivers; · Make more dual moves; and · Work with customers, lines, and terminals, and have lower error rates. As Table 72 shows for one case study terminal, there is also a wide variance in the frequency with which drivers from different companies receive trouble tickets. With an overall average of about 5%, there were clearly better-than-average performers and worse-than-average performers. Some firms encounter frequent problems due to their business mix (hazmat, tanks, reefers). It is impossible from the data in Table 72 alone to determine whether Company G was careless or just had a lot of problem customers. Ocean Carrier and Terminal Differences Ocean carriers and terminal operators vary in the quality and consistency of their operations. Drayage companies report significant differences in working with different ocean carriers. Data from two lines at the same terminal can indeed show different trouble ticket rates. As shown in Table 73, Line A caused truckers more problems than Line B at the same terminal. Gate Processing Solutions Automated Gates: OCR and RFID "Automated" gates that use OCR or RFID to identify incoming containers and match them with booking numbers, bills of lading, etc. can both reduce the minimum processing time and tighten the distribution by reducing errors or catching mismatched transactions more quickly. "Remote"
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Marine Terminal Gate Processing 59 Table 73. Variability in ocean carrier trouble ticket ratios. Transaction Type Line Transactions Trouble Flag % Trouble Tickets A 3,438 172 5.0% Deliver Import B 4,049 169 4.2% A 3,869 307 7.9% Deliver Empty B 10,106 485 4.8% A 3,391 242 7.1% Receive Export B 9,721 414 4.3% A 4,197 108 2.6% Receive Empty B 3,482 26 0.7% A 14,895 829 5.6% Total B 27,358 1,094 4.0% gates that use video cameras to conduct visual inspections also can reduce processing time while increasing safety and reducing face-to-face friction between drivers and clerks. The process can be expedited further and errors reduced further where RFID, swipe cards, or a PIN entered on a key- pad can identify the driver, the drayage company, or even the entire transaction. Accurate and Complete Shipment Documentation A significant number of trouble tickets are generated by shortcomings in import/export doc- umentation or other transaction features beyond the driver's control. Examples could include the following: · Dispatching an export container too early for a future voyage, · Attempting to pickup an import container subject to unpaid fees or CBP inspection, · Mismatched container and booking numbers, and · Incomplete paperwork of any kind. On arrival at the terminal, a driver attempting to complete such a transaction may be turned away, stalled at the gate, or issued a trouble ticket. Resolving the problem may require multiple phone calls between terminal, driver, and customer, and transmission of new documents or deliv- ery of a check for unpaid fees. Such delays are almost entirely avoidable. Other than a few inevitable clerical errors, these trans- action shortfalls are a matter of diligence and care on the part of the customer. Here too, an inex- perienced or infrequent importer or exporter may not know the process in sufficient or current detail, and may cause a disproportionate number of problems. Taking Advantage of Terminal Information Systems The data make it clear that many gate processing delays and trouble tickets are due to misinfor- mation and miscommunication. Port and terminal information systems such as VoyagerTrack and eModal are designed to prevent such mistakes. These systems allow customers or truckers to ver- ify that import containers are ready to be picked up, with all necessary payments and clearances complete. Although such systems are not immune to error, their consistent and proper use dras- tically reduces some transaction problems. For export bookings, the information systems allow truckers to check booking information against the paperwork or electronic documents the customer has provided. Use of the available sys- tems also will allow the trucks to check delivery windows for export containers on specific vessels and voyages.
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60 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Attn Trucking Community: Please be advised that Rows 29 / 39 and 49 will not be open for truck delivery today on the 1st shift gate, due to vessel discharge from the NYK Atlas. There will be no cargo other then the NYK Atlas cargo that will start discharging into these area at 0800. These areas will be open for tonights Pierpass gate at 1800. Please plan accordingly. Thank you, YTI Management (a) Example 1. Vessels Working; Reliance Stop-Work Meeting Thursday, Feb 4th, 2nd Shift Areas Closed For Wheeled/Grounded Pickup: AG ,MRU-AG, MRU, VNV, NIC Yrd Operation Advisory; There will be a MOD (must open door) Clerk on Broadway 1100 area for Drivers that want to inspect their mty contrs after receiving them. Maersk Equipment Advisory: Maersk Import containers, all type & sz, pulled from APM Term Pier 400 must be returned empty to APM Term Pier 400 (no chas split) Maersk Import containers, dry sz 20' &, 40' Reefers, pulled from SSA Pier A on SSA/WCCP chas must be returned empty to SSA Pier A (no chas split). Maersk Import containers, dry sizes 40', 40'hi &, 45' pulled from SSA Pier A on SSA/WCCP chas must be returned empty to APM Term Pier 400 (chas split is required) until further notice. Maersk Import containers, all type & sz, pulled from ITS Term Long Beach must be returned empty to ITS Term (no chas split). Maersk Equip control contact is PSWDSPEQUPOS@MAERSK.COM - EQU 310 221- 4904 (b) Example 2. Figure 73. Messages from eModal. These systems provide truckers with vital information regarding terminal operations, such as follows: · Changes in gate hours, or in the availability of specific transaction types; · Empty container or chassis shortages; · Changes in the availability of import boxes or acceptance of export boxes for specific vessels and voyages; · Instructions or restrictions on the return of empty containers; and · Scheduled or unscheduled closures or system downtime. Figure 73 provides examples of eModal messages. Truckers who know and use these systems can adapt to changing conditions with varying degrees of success. Truckers who do not use these systems will experience a stream of unwelcome surprises, bottlenecks, and delays.
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Marine Terminal Gate Processing 61 Training and Education The performance difference between inexperienced and experienced drivers and firms implies a need for training and education. · New and infrequent drivers need instruction on marine terminal protocol and processes including information exchange, CY operations, safety, and security. · All firms and drivers need access to updated information on procedures and processes. There are several options available to improve driver and drayage company information and training. Terminal information systems and Web sites commonly include advisories aimed at drayage drivers. These advisories address safety issues, procedural requirements, and changes to operating hours or other day-to-day concerns. Expanding the scope of these advisories to cover documenta- tion practices and reminders of common procedural or booking errors would open another chan- nel of communication between terminal operators and customers. Some ports publish trucker maps or brochures. Examples include the following: · Port of Tacoma--www.portoftacoma.com/File.ashx?cid=2204 · Port of Baltimore--www.mpa.state.md.us/Links/Truckersmapforweb.pdf Given the clear findings regarding trucker experience, there would appear to be a significant potential benefit to giving new or occasional truckers and their firms better access to information on terminal processes. The need for information may be particularly acute at ports such as NYNJ or LALB that have multiple terminals, emerging clean truck plans, and other unique aspects of their operations. These information sources can be improved, updated, and coordinated or consolidated to cre- ate port-wide documentation. This is a challenging task, however, because the details of marine terminal processing, equipment management, security, and information exchange change fre- quently and on short notice. A second challenge is getting the information into the hands of drivers and firms unfamiliar with the port or its terminals. Familiarization trips, where new drivers ride as passengers with experienced drivers, are a long- standing and effective practice. Recent security practices, however, have drastically curtailed the ability of new drivers, or anyone else, to enter marine terminals as passengers. There is an unmet need for port-wide security protocols to allow familiarization trips. The TWIC requirement can be made part of the protocol. Familiarization trips are also an effective way for port staff, customers, and other stakeholders to learn about the drayage and terminal system. Some marine terminals offer periodic training classes for new drivers, others mandate such classes for drivers who violate safety rules. Generally, these training efforts are regarded as effective and valuable. Choosing Drayage Firms and Ocean Carriers Customers who choose a drayage firm solely on the basis of price or who ask non-port trucking firms to perform container drayage are doing themselves and other customers a disservice. As noted, choosing firms by price creates a niche for substandard drayage firms using inexperienced drivers and substandard equipment. Too often, such companies and their drivers do not invest the time and effort to learn and use port and terminal information systems or may even lack the tech- nical capability to do so. Such firms may allow insurance certificates, interchange agreements, or tractor inspections and registrations to lapse, or fall behind in demurrage payments. All of these shortfalls in the trucking operation will trigger trouble tickets and other delays.
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62 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide The TWIC requirement and the clean truck plans being put in place at various ports will restrict, or even prevent, an unprepared trucker from entering a port terminal. In many cases, the only option will be for the infrequent port visitor to turn the job over to a qualified port firm with a legal tractor and a TWIC-equipped driver. The study team has observed this process at NYNJ, where over-the-road carriers sometimes operate to and from the drayage company terminals, leaving the specialized drayage firm to perform the actual port trips. In Southern California, the increased need to use "clean" tractors for port trips has led to an increase in "dray offs"--the practice of using a clean truck to shuttle containers between the port and a nearby point where they are handed off to another tractor for delivery inland. The potential imposition of container fees at some or all ports will complicate matters further for unprepared truckers. An experienced trucker arriving at a Southern California container terminal during the day shift, for example, will be subject to the Off- Peak fee payable by the beneficial cargo owner (BCO). The inexperienced trucker is unlikely to have an OffPeak account, the expected RFID equipment, or any means to quickly resolve the problem. The need to choose a qualified drayage firm poses a classic dilemma: customers who do not understand the complexities of the port process are unlikely to appreciate the value of an experi- enced drayage partner, especially for infrequent shipments. Choosing an Ocean Carrier Although the research team did not make distinctions between named carriers or terminals, it is clear that there are notable differences between them when it comes to drayage productivity. The differences appear to be traceable to the following: · Investment in, and sophistication of, carrier and terminal information and operating systems; · Staffing levels and staff experience; and · Adequacy and performance of terminal equipment and facilities. As in choosing a drayage firm, customers that choose an ocean carrier solely on the basis of carriage rates may find themselves incurring delays, unreliability, and higher drayage costs as a result. Experienced drayage firms and drivers are reluctant to serve ocean carriers and terminals with bad reputations, and may justifiably postpone trips in hopes of avoiding problems, or quote higher rates. A recent study of port productivity on behalf of the Cargo Handling Cooperative Program (CHCP) included a survey of customer attitudes toward marine container terminal productivity. That survey found that 68% of the respondents considered drayage turn time to be very important in evaluating container terminal productivity, 74% considered reliability (% on schedule) to be very important in evaluating container terminal productivity, and 63% would consider splitting import or export volume between ocean carriers at the same port based on container terminal efficiency/productivity. Managing Non-Standard Transactions Most of the drayage transactions considered in this project and handled at marine container terminals involve dry van containers and loads without special characteristics. Containerized loads with special characteristics include the following: · Hazardous materials (hazmat), · Refrigerated containers and commodities, · Liquid in tank containers, · Open top or flat-rack containers, · Overweight loads, and · Oversize ("out of gauge") loads.
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Marine Terminal Gate Processing 63 Such loads all require some degree of special handling and processing and, in many terminals, these loads automatically generate trouble tickets. Customers and drayage firms that regularly han- dle such loads know the process and plan accordingly. Firms that only occasionally handle such loads may experience long delays. Customers who mix standard and non-standard container loads on the same bill of lading risk having the standard loads delayed if hazmat or other loads trigger trouble tickets for all customers on the same bill. This problem and others are symptomatic of limitations or quirks in terminal information systems. Although the ultimate solution is to correct the systems problems, the near- term solution is for customers and drayage firms to adjust business practices to current realities. Information and Communication Information and communication errors are the dominant cause of exceptions and trouble tick- ets. That finding is clear from both quantitative terminal data and qualitative driver and drayage company survey results. In principle, almost all information and communication errors should be preventable. As the research findings show, the frequency of trouble tickets declines with driver experience. From the driver and drayage company surveys, it is clear that experienced drivers and dispatchers place great importance on pre-dispatch verification of container status, etc. A significant portion of the trouble tickets and exceptions is apparently traceable to shortcom- ings or quirks of the marine terminal operating systems. Examples include the following: · Drivers who are stopped at exit gates because they have been given, or allowed to choose, an empty container that was reserved in the system for another use; · Inbound drivers that are stopped because the container they are carrying is still in the system from an earlier unsuccessful transaction; · Drivers who are turned away with empty containers because the return instructions have changed since the container was picked up; and · Drivers who are stopped because the equipment they are carrying is not listed in the terminal operating system. The timing of information is also a factor. Drayage company dispatchers commonly create a morning dispatch plan and communicate it to the drivers the previous night. This practice enables the drivers to position themselves and begin work as early as possible. If the terminal's empty return instructions are changed late at night or early in the morning, however, the dispatch plan may be out of sync and may result in trouble tickets and exceptions. Gate Bypass and PINs The logical extension of the two-stage gate approach may be exemplified by the recently retro- fitted system at Houston's Barbours Cut where the first gate stage is 1.5 miles away from the sec- ond stage and has its own parking area for drivers with problems to stop and contact their dispatchers. Once clear of the first gate, the drivers are issued a personal identification number (PIN) to be used at the second gate. Trucking firms have the option to complete the first stage of the process on-line and give their drivers a PIN in advance, enabling the drivers to bypass the first gate.