- The Port of Virginia says a truck reservation system (TRS) resulted in a 16% reduction in turn times at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) since its implementation last March. The port has been using the same system at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) since June and has seen a 32% reduction in turn times.
- "TRS allows us to better manage flow at our gates; it gives even greater visibility to cargo owners and has matured into an important planning tool for us and everyone who moves cargo by truck," Virginia Port Authority CEO John F. Reinhart said in a statement.
- The TRS has handled 292,588 reservations since March and now handles more than 70% of truck traffic between both NIT and VIG. NIT averages 567 reservations per day while VIG averages 765. The system helps the port spread truck traffic out across the day and avoid a "rush hour," Reinhart said.
The TRS was only mandatory for a few hours per day when use first began. Now, it's mandatory from the time the terminal opens (5 a.m. for NIT and 3 a.m. for VIG) until 1 p.m., according to the port.
"To maximize the potential of a TRS, appointments should be mandatory all day," ManWo Ng, an assistant professor of maritime and supply chain management at Old Dominion University, told Supply Chain Dive in an email. "I believe that that is the ultimate goal at the Port of Virginia. They are slowly expanding the hours of mandatory appointment."
The Port of Virginia's goal is to have 75% of truck traffic using the TRS by mid-summer, Joseph D. Harris, a spokesperson for the port, told Supply Chain Dive.
"We're not there yet in terms of need," Harris said of making it a requirement around the clock. Also, having it as a requirement at all parts of the day can be difficult for drivers who don't regularly interact with the port, he said.
The system is meant to help cut down on truck congestion, which the port had a big problem with before implementing the new system. Long wait times have become an even greater issue for drivers as the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has gone into effect.
Local trucking group For Truckers by Truckers held a protest at a Port of Virginia Board of Directors meeting to draw attention to long dwell times as cargo volumes at the port were increasing. For Truckers by Truckers did not respond to a request to comment on changes they're seeing as a result of the TRS.
"Spreading out the truck volume across the day is the only way to achieve efficiency, and we’ve developed an innovative, fair, easy and useful means of accomplishing that," Reinhart said.
The Port of New York and New Jersey tested truck reservations last year and found it resulted in a 38% drop in turn time. And similar systems at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have resulted in turn times being cut by more than half, according to Trucks.
There are a variety of ways to tweak a TRS, including appointment windows, the time within which a driver should arrive, currently an hour for the Port of Virginia; and grace periods, the amount of time a driver can be early or late and still enter the terminal, currently 30 minutes, Ng said.
"Different choices can lead to a different performance of the reservation system," he said. "While [Port of Virginia] has managed to achieve a good reduction in truck turn times, it might be possible to further optimize the settings for an even better performance."
This system will become even more important as the Port is currently expanding its capacity — investing $700 million to double throughput at VIG and increase capacity at NIT by 46%.