The problems with gate congestion extend beyond marine terminals. But too often, the solutions only address issues at the marine terminal gates.
One of the most talked-about solutions for gate congestion is appointments — specific time slots allocated to a trucker to visit a marine terminal. The goal is to control the flow of trucks through the gate. This doesn’t necessarily increase the terminal’s throughput, but it does have the ability to reduce the overall turn time for a trucker at the terminal.
From a terminal perspective, appointments are great. They create a consistent work flow through the gate and minimize the times truckers surge the gate, causing significant idling. Terminals can also better plan their own work force to accommodate the trucking demand.
The problem with appointments is that they are not great for truckers. Yes, the allure of shorter turn times is there, but it comes at a far greater cost. This is because the presumption is that truckers have predictability and control over the cargo they are going to carry, which simply isn’t the case. Truckers are completely dependent upon when their own shippers provide delivery orders as well as the forces of the in-land community and traffic. Essentially, what the terminal is really doing with appointments is forcing trucks to idle beyond the terminal boundaries, because they drive earlier to a terminal to ensure they make their appointment window.
Crux Systems supports terminal appointment systems, if they are in place, but we also believe there is a better solution out there. By working with truckers to help them manage delivery orders and by providing integrated traffic flow and terminal congestion information to dispatchers, more efficient planning can be done to help not only terminals in reducing congestion, but help truckers get more work done in a day.