Improve truck traffic in ports by accessing the right information

In 2005, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles launched PierPass, a non-profit program whose mission was to reduce traffic congestion on city streets that led into and out of the ports. PierPass was extended in 2018 when both ports adopted an appointment system (vs. daytime only TMF) for freight trucks that operated over two shifts so that traffic on city streets could be further reduced.

The initiative not only benefitted surrounding streets and neighborhoods but also improved port traffic control by removing queues and overspill from container trucks within the impacted ports.

Controlling truck freight movement starts with a data strategy

Managing truck freight movement in and out of the port is a universal pain point for most ports. While not every port has the resources to implement a comprehensive program like PierPass, building a data strategy should not be considered out of reach. In essence, it is a fundamental first step that every organization requires.

A data strategy doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul of your tools and systems. It can start with a simple question: How are we using data in the best way for our organization? In the case of truck traffic, enabling precise data access to location, origin, destination, and cargo in-formation provide port managers a coordinated, holistic, and dynamic view of freight truck arrivals and departures.

“The flow of communication between the ports and truckers who are often on the road isn’t always efficient and immediate,” said David St. Pierre, director of public safety & security for the Manatee County Port Authority in Florida. “The lack of effective tools, an on-the-go workforce, and even language barriers are challenges we face in accessing the data we need when we need it.”

St. Pierre said he would like to have more information from truckers so the port could sort gate access by vehicle types.

“We don’t have this information today,” he said. “Instead, our current access control systems concentrate on confirming the identity of the individuals.”

Linking data together to keep supply chains moving

St. Pierre said that Port Manatee’s current system gives him access to crucial data points already, but that the ability to mine the information for actionable business insights effectively could be more robust.

“All of this is further complicated right now with COVID-19, where keeping supply chains moving is essential,” said St. Pierre. “Providing real-time visibility on the shipments of critical consumer goods, medical supplies and equipment for our customers is something we take very seriously.

It’s fine to iterate between short term wins and longer-term priorities. Ports must assure customers about the continuity of operations, while at the same time implement new safety COVID-19 safety procedures and manage a potentially larger remote workforce. Within this current scenario, the challenge is being able to have visibility into the traffic patterns of truck freight traffic.

One solution is to link together all of the different iPhones, Androids, tablets, laptops, systems, and other specialized mobile devices into a central network that enables real-time information exchanges between all parties. An integrated communications network and data exchange can also route relevant information to anyone that needs it —whether it is a transporter, a customer at a destination, or the port itself.

Such a coordinated system of data access would reduce the number of manual tasks and coordination that now need to be done to control and to manage truck access in and out of ports. It could also streamline tasks for a distributed workforce by providing them with the data and information they need, even if they’re not in the office.

“We have a responsibility to be a good neighbor in Manatee County and minimizing the impact of truck and cargo transportation is important to us,” said St. Pierre. “Enabling easier exchange of information and integration of systems would be valuable to allow us to better understand the area that the port serves, and to provide valuable, real-time data to our transportation partners.”

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