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Port Drayage Transactions In any port drayage operation, the need to move loaded containers drives the system. Move- ments of empty containers, bare chassis, and bobtail tractors ordinarily result from loaded move- ments. A driverâs duty cycle can be a series of repetitive shuttles (e.g., between marine and off-dock rail terminals) or a complex pattern of multiple tasks. Drivers arriving at a marine terminal entrance gate are anticipating one of the transaction types or combinations shown in Table 2â1. The shaded cells in Table 2â1 are the eight routine transactions usually found at marine terminals. They have different functional requirements that drive gate processing times and associated queuing. Inbound or outbound bobtails (drayage tractor movements without a chassis or container) have the advantage of not needing an inspection, since no equipment is being interchanged from trucker to ocean carrier. Many terminals have separate unmanned bobtail gates for this reason. Bobtail drivers still must identify themselves and have their transaction verified (e.g., picking up an empty or loaded container on chassis). Bobtails are non-revenue moves and, therefore, are minimized. Inbound bare chassis movements are relatively rare at wheeled terminals, and will remain so as long as the chassis fleets and pools are maintained on the terminals themselves. Bare chassis moves are much more common where space limitations have pushed chassis pools to remote lots, and where on-terminal chassis storage is limited and the overflow is drayed off site. Bare chassis moves are also sometimes required for specialized container types. Bare chassis moves will likely increase if, and when, truckers take over the chassis supply. Inbound empty and loaded containers on chassis both need inspections. An empty container also theoretically requires the driver or clerk to open the doors to check the interior; an export load requires the cargo seal to be checked for number and condition. Inbound loaded containers for export typically require the most paperwork, because the ter- minal is accepting the container and the export goods inside on behalf of the ocean carrier (steamship line). Outbound empty containers to be loaded with exports are not inspected at the gate under the assumption that the driver has inspected the equipment (not always true) and accepted respon- sibility for its return in good condition (when it will be inspected by terminal personnel). Outbound import loads outnumber inbound export loads and tend to receive most of the attention paid to drayage issues. Usually, the driver must have a âpickup numberâ or other means of verifying his eligibility to pick up the loaded container. On exiting the terminal, the drayage company assumes responsibility for both the equipment and the load. 5 C H A P T E R 2 The Port Drayage Process
In both inbound and outbound moves, inspection of the chassis may require more time than inspection of the container itself. This situation would change if, and when, chassis are no longer interchanged with the terminal operator or kept on the terminal. There are many possible exceptions and variations in this process, such as: â¢ Dual transactions (e.g., empty return/import load, export load/import load, export load/empty pickup); â¢ Trouble-window transactions (e.g., documentation problems, turnaways, or the need to pick up a different container); â¢ Equipment issues (outbound chassis roadability, inbound damage dispute, delays for repairs); â¢ Off-terminal storage or repair trips (significant where refrigerated containers must be âpre- trippedâ for perishable exports); and â¢ Dray-in imports (imports coming into the terminal that were discharged at another port) and dray-off exports (exports being re-delivered to shippers instead of being loaded onto a vessel). All port drayage processes at terminals have the same basic objectives and the same basic steps. The following sections describe generic drayage processes for import, export, and empty moves. The complete cycle may involve more than one driver on separate days. Marine Container Terminals Marine container terminals all served the same basic functions but differ in ways that affect drayage operations. âWheeledâ terminals park containers on chassis. From a drayage driverâs point of view, a wheeled terminal is a self-service parking lot in which he leaves and picks up containers on chassis without interacting with terminal personnel inside the gates. For this reason, wheeled terminals are usu- ally the easiest and most economical for drayage firms to serve. Wheeled terminals require an on-terminal chassis supply, and are rare outside the United States. âStackedâ terminals store containers and chassis separately. Container yard lift machines, such as straddle carriers, rubber-tired gantries (RTGs), or sideloaders are used to stack containers and transfer them between stacks and chassis. To drop off a container, a driver waits at the storage area for the container to be lifted from the chassis, and then parks the chassis in a separate area (unless he reuses the chassis for an outbound move). To pick up a container, a driver must locate a suit- able bare chassis (if he does not have one from a previous move) and take it to the storage area to receive the container. Serving stacked terminals typically takes longer and has more opportunity for exceptions and delays than serving a wheeled terminal. 6 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Bobtail BareChassis Empty on Chassis Load on Chassis Bobtail Bobtail in Bobtail Out Chassis in Bobtail Out Empty in Bobtail Out Export in Bobtail Out Bare Chassis Bobtail in Chassis Out Chassis in Chassis Out Empty in Chassis Out Export in Chassis Out Empty on Chassis Bobtail in Empty Out Chassis in Empty Out Empty in Empty Out Export in Empty Out Load on Chassis Bobtail in Import Out Chassis in Import Out Empty in Import Out Export in Import Out Entry Ex it Transaction Types Table 2â1. Entry/exit transaction types.
At âtransfer zoneâ terminals, a driver dropping off a container waits in a designated area to be served by a mobile lift machine. A driver picking up a container waits in the transfer zone with a bare chassis, and the mobile lift equipment brings the container. In both cases, the driver must move the bare chassis to and from a separate area. Almost all major U.S. container terminals are actually hybrids, with some containers wheeled on chassis, empties handled by mobile lift equipment, and loaded containers handled by RTGs or straddle carriers. Typical handling equipment types are shown in Figure 2â1. Rail-mounted gantries (RMGs) are uncommon in the United States. Figure 2â2 displays the progression of terminal handling methods from lowest to highest den- sity. Virtually all U.S. marine container terminals use a mix of the handling methods shown in Figure 2â1, and vary that mix to provide sufficient capacity at minimum cost. Terminal operators gravitate to low-density, low-cost operating methods whenever possible. The Port Drayage Process 7 TOP-PICK EMPTY HANDLER REACH STACKER SIDE LOADER STRADDLE CARRIER RUBBER-TIRED GANTRY (RTG) RAIL-MOUNTED GANTRY (RMG) Figure 2â1. Container yard handling equipment types. DENSITY TYPE COMMENT Ro/Ro or Shipâs gear Very small, barge, specialized Wheeled Combination Small, mixed, legacy Dedicated Wheeled Older terminals when new Wheeled/Top-pick Transition terminals Top-pick/Wheeled Transition terminals Straddle/Top-pick/Wheeled Hybrid terminal RTG/Top-pick/Wheeled Dominant hybrid type Straddle Carrier NIT Virginia RTG No US Example VERY HIGH DENSITY Pure RMG APM Portsmouth VERY LOW DENSITY LOW DENSITY MID DENSITY HIGH DENSITY Figure 2â2. Progression of terminal handling methods.
Wheeled operations are the most economical for marine terminal operators because they min- imize both capital and labor. Terminals prefer to put import boxes on chassis, and any special- ized containers (refrigerated, tank, hazmat, overweight, etc.) as well. As wheeled terminals become crowded, the operators tend to segregate and stack empties. Empties are light and can be handled by the least expensive lift equipment, such as heavy duty fork lifts. Empties are typically stacked by type and ownership and can be managed last-in/first-out (LIFO). As additional capacity is required (or planned from the beginning), the terminal begins stacking loaded containers off their chassisâfirst exports, then imports. The stacks are serviced by RTGs, straddle carriers, orâin the case of APM Portsmouth, Virginiaâby rail-mounted gantries. During extended slow periods, some stacked terminals will revert to wheeled operations to reduce costs. Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement The Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement (commonly called the UIIA, based on its previous title of Uniform Intermodal Interchange Agreement) is a standard drayage industry interchange contract governing the interchange of intermodal equipment between ocean carriers, railroads, equipment leasing companies, and intermodal trucking com- panies. It was developed by the Intermodal Interchange Executive Committee, whose members include representatives of trucking firms, railroads, and ocean carriers, to promote intermodal productivity and operating efficiencies through the development of uniform industry processes and procedures. The UIIA covers most aspects of equipment interchange in port drayage, including facility access, equipment interchange procedures, equipment usage rules, liability and insurance require- ments, administrative processes, and dispute resolution procedures. The UIIA is administered by the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) and is available at http://www.uiia.org/documents/newuiia-full.pdf Import Drayage Process Figure 2â3 displays a generic high-level process map for the import drayage process. At the highest level, the process begins with the bill of lading and the vessel manifestâthe list of import containers on the inbound ship. The manifest lists the notify parties, those parties that must be notified once the container is unloaded from the ship and ready to be picked up. For a local 8 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Terminal receives Empty Dr a ya ge F irm Drayage Firm receives Manifest Create pickup order Dispatch driver Terminal delivers Load Pick up Load 52b 3 4 Bring Load to importer Unload container 8 Drop off Empty to terminal 9 Manifest 1 10 Te rm in al Sh ip pi n g Li ne Terminal receives Manifest 2a 6 7 Co n si gn e e Figure 2â3. Import drayage process map.
import the ânotify partiesâ usually include the consignee (beneficial cargo owner or an interme- diate receiver such as a transloader or broker) and the drayage firm. Once notified by the terminal operator that the container has arrived, the drayage firm will verify when the consignee wants it picked up (or, in the case of multiple containers, the preferred order of delivery). Most experienced port drayage firms will then verify that the container is indeed ready to be picked up via either the ocean carrierâs online system, the terminal operatorâs system, or a port-wide system such as VoyagerTrack or eModal. The drayage firm will verify that the container has cleared Customs, has no unmet need for agricultural or other inspections, is not hazardous, or does not otherwise require special handling, and that all fees have been paid. Correct pre-trip usage of such systems is a major factor in reducing exceptions and delays at the terminals. Consistent and correct usage of the various information systems is also a distin- guishing characteristic of experienced port drayage firms. With the availability of the import container verified, the drayage firm creates a pick-up order and dispatches a driver to the marine terminal. Depending on the previous dispatch, the driver may have no box or chassis (bobtail), an empty container on chassis, an export load, or a bare chassis. Drayage firms attempt to maximize revenue moves by avoiding non-revenue bobtail or bare chas- sis moves and using every opportunity to return empty containers without making extra trips. At the terminal, the driver will go through the gate and container yard subprocesses, detailed in the following guidebook sections. These subprocesses vary between ports and terminals, but all have a few common objectives, as follows: â¢ Verifying the identity of the drayage driver and drayage firm, â¢ Verifying that the driverâs transaction is legitimate and that the desired container is available and cleared for pickup, â¢ Checking the condition of any inbound equipment and issuing an Equipment Interchange Report (EIR), â¢ Performing the exchange of container and chassis within the container yard, and â¢ Verifying the transaction and completing an EIR for outbound equipment. The EIR serves a critical function since it documents the transfer of responsibility for the equipment and its contents between parties. When a driver takes a loaded container or chassis out of the terminal, the drayage firm assumes liability for its timely return in good condition. If the equipment is returned after a specified âfree time,â the drayage firm will be charged (âde- murrageâ) for the excess time. If the equipment is judged to have been damaged (beyond nor- mal wear and tear), the drayage firm will be charged for repairs. When equipment is returned to the terminal and inspected, the terminal operator is accepting responsibility and releasing the drayage firm. Under normal circumstances the importer or exporter does not ever take respon- sibility for the container or chassis. Having obtained the loaded import container on a suitable chassis, the driver will then deliver it to the consignee (or alternatively, to a rail intermodal terminal or even another marine termi- nal for ongoing movement). At the consignee location, there are the following two basic options: â¢ âDrop and pick,â in which the driver positions the import container for subsequent unload- ing and retrieves a previously emptied container for return to the port, and â¢ âStay with,â in which the driver waits while the container is unloaded and then returns it to the port. âDrop and pickâ operations are preferred because they make better use of the driverâs time. âStay withâ trips are usually limited to low-volume customers where there may not be an empty to exchange, or to long-distance customers where the wait for unloading is short compared to the driving time. The Port Drayage Process 9
The empty container is then returned to the marine terminal where the driver goes through the same basic gate and container yard subprocesses. Export Drayage Process Figure 2â4 displays a high-level map of the export drayage process. It differs from the import drayage process in a few basic ways. The cycle starts with an export booking by the shipper, essentially a reservation for an out- bound container on a specific voyage. The booking is assigned a âbooking numberâ and trans- mitted to the drayage firm and the marine terminal. The marine terminal creates an Equipment Delivery Order (EDO) or equivalent, giving the drayage firm permission to pick up an empty container for the export load. â¢ The drayage firm should receive or confirm the empty order via the on-line systems as ex- plained above. Doing so will reduce the chance of exception or delay at the marine terminal. â¢ A driver is dispatched to the terminal and goes through the applicable gate and container yard processes to obtain the empty container. â¢ The empty container is drayed to the shipperâs location. The driver either exchanges it for a load (drop and pick) or waits while it is loaded (stay with). â¢ The loaded export container is then drayed to the marine terminal. The export booking num- ber is the key transaction identifier at the gate. Ordinarily, the export container or chassis is inspected and accepted, and an EIR issued. In the absence of any exceptions, the driver will be given instructions on where to take the container within the terminal. Finally, the driver will leave the load and either start another transaction or leave. Empty Return Process After the goods are unloaded from an import container, the empty container must either be returned to the marine terminal, dropped at an off-terminal depot, or reused for an export load. Return to Terminal Most often, the empty container is returned to the marine terminal. At the inbound gate, the driver will identify himself, his firm, and the transaction. The empty container and the chassis will be inspected either in person or via video camera. The driver may be asked to open the doors to 10 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Figure 2â4. Generic high-level export drayage process. Terminal receives Load Dr ay ag e Fi rm Drayage Firm receives Booking Create empty order Dispatch driver Terminal delivers Empty Pick up Empty 52b 3 4 Bring Empty to exporter Load container 8 Drop off Load to terminal 9 Export Booking1 10 Te rm in al Sh ip pe r Terminal receives Booking 2a 6 7
verify that the container is clean and empty. If the container and chassis pass inspection, an EIR will be issued for the return, and the driver will be given instructions on where to take the equipment. Return to Depot Empty containers may be stored in off-terminal depots because they are being âoff-hiredâ (re- turned to a leasing company) or because a scarcity of space forces them out of the main terminal. Reuse Reusing an empty import container for an export load, sometimes called a âstreet turn,â can significantly reduce drayage trips. There are, however, major institutional and informational bar- riers to reuse, and the practice is uncommon at most ports. Drayage Subprocesses Within the overall drayage process there are several subprocesses that reoccur. These are dis- cussed below to emphasize the commonalities. Security Since September 2001, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has adopted the goal of pass- ing every import container through a radiation portal monitor (RPM) at the marine terminal. As of 2008, implementation of this process still varies widely, with many major terminals hav- ing RPMs on site, but others having RPMs outside the terminal or shared by multiple terminals. The TSA-issued Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) is gradually being implemented at U.S. ports. A TWIC is required for any drayage driver entering the terminal. TWICs have embedded RFID capability, but the RFID readers are not yet available. Marine ter- minal entry gates are thus having drivers display TWICs for visual inspection. Eventually, TSA plans to incorporate TWIC readers in entry gate installations. Some ports and terminals have additional security requirements or procedures. One example is the Port Check identification card issued at the Port of New York and New Jersey. In-Gate Processing At the marine terminal, the driver will join the queue (if there is one) at the inbound gate as shown in Figure 2â5. The inbound gate process fulfills multiple purposes, as follows: â¢ To verify the identity of the driver and his firm, and their eligibility to complete the transac- tion (e.g., picking up an import load); â¢ To verify that the specified container is indeed available and ready to go (cleared, with all fees paid); â¢ To check the condition and complete an EIR for any ocean carrier equipment being inter- changed (container, chassis, genset); â¢ To instruct the driver where to pick up the container; and â¢ To dispatch or queue-up the required terminal lift equipment. Although there are many minor variations on inbound gate configurations and processing, there are two basic types: one-stage and two-stage. The Port Drayage Process 11
One-Stage Inbound Gates At a one-stage gate, all of the above functions are typically fulfilled by a gate clerk in a booth. The driver usually does not communicate with terminal personnel until reaching the actual gate. All gate processes are performed there, including any problem resolution. The clerk will accept information from the driver, enter it in the terminal information system, verify the transaction, inspect the equip- ment, and issue a written âyard slipâ or oral instructions on where to proceed in the container yard. If exceptions occur at a one-stage inbound gate, the clerk usually tries to resolve them on the spot. This delays not only the affected driver, but also all the other drivers queued up behind him. For more complex problems the driver may be sent to a separate âtrouble window.â Instances in which the driver cannot enter the terminal (e.g., no valid interchange agreement or no legitimate transaction) are particularly troublesome, as such âturnaways,â and seriously disrupt the flow of traffic through the gates. One-stage gates are most often found at older or smaller terminals where the volume of business may not justify the investment in two-stage systems or where there is not enough physical space. Two-Stage Inbound Gates Two-stage gates (Figure 2â6) have become the norm for newer and larger marine terminals. There are many variations, but the two stages are usually divided as follows. In the first stage, the driver pulls up to a pedestal equipped with a phone, keypad, card reader, or other device for communicating with the terminal clerks and information system. This first stage establishes the identity of driver and drayage firm, verifies the legitimacy of the transaction, and verifies container availability. If an exception occurs in any of those steps and cannot be resolved within a couple of minutes, the driver is either turned away or sent to a trouble window. The first stage pedestals should be located far enough from the second stage gates to allow trucks to leave the queue with a minimum of disruption. Exceptions at this stage should cause only a short delay to other trucks in the queue. Once the âpaperworkâ is done (mostly electronically), the driver is advanced to the second stage, which is the actual terminal entry gate. At this point, any inbound equipment is inspected, whether in person or remotely via video cameras, and a yard slip with instructions is issued. Ex- ceptions at the second stage would most likely involve equipment condition, and such units would be sent to a trouble window. 12 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide Source: Port of Los Angeles Web site. Figure 2â5. Marine terminal entrance gate.
Two-stage gates have the advantage of identifying and segregating (or turning away) driv- ers with transaction problems before they reach the actual terminal entry. When combined with video inspection systems they also allow terminal operators to physically distance clerks from the gate itself and from personal interactions with drivers (which can sometimes become contentious). Two-Stage Gate Equivalents Some terminals are experimenting with other gate configurations. At Bayport in Houston, the one-stage gate will still have the ability to remove problematic trucks from the gate processing area and thereby prevent them from creating a bottleneck. Staff determined that processing at each stage was fast enough that there was not a sufficient need to have the trucks stop twice. On-Terminal Chassis Supply Once in the container yard, there are the following three principal ways for a drayage driver to locate and hook up to a container or chassis: â¢ By locating a container already mounted on a chassis at a wheeled terminal, â¢ By locating a bare chassis and taking it to a container stack where a lift machine will mount the container in a stacked terminal, or â¢ By locating a bare chassis and taking it to a designated zone where a lift machine will bring and mount the container in a transfer zone terminal. In all three cases, the driver goes through the process of locating, inspecting, hooking up, and testing a chassis. Figure 2â7 displays this process. Data obtained from two case study terminals illustrate the extra time required for obtaining a chassis at the terminal. At one terminal, grounded transactions that required the driver to ob- tain a terminal chassis averaged 16 minutes longer than grounded transactions for which the driver brought a chassis. At the other, less congested terminal, the average difference was 9 min- utes. The weighted average was 12 minutes longer when a chassis search was required. In both cases, the standard deviation was smaller when the trucker provided the chassis, indicating less variability. These differences probably reflect two factors: the additional gate time required to interchange and inspect the chassis, and the time required within the terminal to locate and check an appropriate chassis. The Port Drayage Process 13 En try G at e Provide identity and pickup number Retrieve trouble ticket Join in-gate queue Proceed to communications pedestal Is the information complete? Go to trouble window Proceed to bobtail bypass lane N Y Y N Arrive at terminal Trouble resolved in 30 minutes? Talk to dispatcher Retrieve yard ticket Abandon current transaction? N IMPORT LOAD OUT Inspection gate In-gate Y Exit terminal or restart import load out process DO UB LE ST AG E G AT E Figure 2â6. Two-stage in-gate subprocess.
Radiation Portal Monitor Processing Radiation portal monitors (RPMs) are installed and operated by CBP or contractor personnel. RPMs (Figure 2â8) are designed to detect any unusual radiation from a container, indicating the presence of potentially dangerous undeclared cargo (contraband or a weapon). Any radiation detected by the RPM is compared with the known characteristics of the declared cargo. If the radiation pattern is consistent with the cargo, the container is released. If not, the container may be rescanned at the RPM, sent for more intensive Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) screening, held for CBP inspection, or sent to an off-terminal inspection station. 14 Truck Drayage Productivity Guide SELECTING AND CHECKING A CHASSIS FROM A POOL OR PARKING LOT Locate suitable chassis specified on ticket Crank up landing gear to drop chassis onto tractor Back tractor under chassis kingpin Make air and electrical connections Is chassis valid? Chassis tires and mud flaps in good condition? Major repair Minor repair Chassis lights and brakes in good condition? Proceed to next process Arrive at chassis pool or parking slot N Y Y Y N N Restart process or swap chassis Proceed to roadability canopy (if applicable) Major repair Minor repair Figure 2â7. Chassis subprocesses. Source: SAIC Web site. Figure 2â8. Radiation portal monitor.
As Figure 2â9 indicates, routine processing through an RPM involves waiting in a queue, pass- ing through the RPM, and waiting for CBP clearance. The process takes only a few minutes un- less there is a long queue. RPM placement is not yet completely standardized and can vary by port and terminal. CBPâs preference is to have all RPM screening within the terminal, before the driver reaches the exit gate. In some current installations such as Maher Terminal at NYNJ, however, space constraints have led to placement of the RPMs outside the terminal inspection gates as a separate security process step. Delays and exceptions can occur in RPM processing when â¢ Long queues develop because of peaking or a shortage of operable RPMs (due to down time or staffing shortfalls); â¢ False positives occur, leading to rescans; or â¢ Radiation readings are inconsistent with declared cargo (often due to inaccuracy or misdec- laration), and lead to a CBP âholdâ until resolved. The first two instances may impose delays of up to around 30 minutes. A CBP âholdâ stops the transaction, forcing the driver to either leave or switch to another assignment. Out-Gate Processing Processes at terminal exit gates or out-gates are ordinarily simpler and quicker than at inbound gates. The primary purpose of out-gate processing is to verify that the driver has completed the correct transaction and that any necessary paperwork or systems entry is complete. â¢ Drivers leaving bobtail, without chassis or equipment, often exit via a bypass gate. â¢ Drivers leaving with containers on chassis will present or enter yard slips or pickup numbers to verify that they have a legitimate transaction and have picked up the correct unit. â¢ There are ordinarily no inspections at the outbound gate. For outbound empties or loads, an EIR is completed and issued under the assumption that the driver has completed any neces- sary inspections and repairs, and that the equipment is in good condition (and that any dam- age found at a subsequent inbound inspection is the responsibility of the drayage firm). Any exceptions or disputes relating to equipment condition would ordinarily be resolved before the driver reaches the outbound gate. The Port Drayage Process 15 PASSING THROUGH CUSTOMS RADIATION PORTAL MONITOR (RPM) Is reading acceptable? Go to secondary scan Wait for clearance from CBP Arrive at RPM Joinqueue Proceed through RPM Is reading acceptable? Go to full inspection station Is cargo legitimate? Proceed to next process N N N CBP seizes cargo. Driver waits for clearance from CBP Y Y Y Figure 2â9. RPM subprocesses.