Container terminal reservation system performance is an important topic impacting the performance of global supply chains. Research results presented by Phil Davies at the 5th Metrans International Urban Freight Conference Long Beach California suggest the following lessons for container terminal reservations systems design and performance:

• Based on Port Botany, average total turn times of 25 to 30 minutes are achievable in a regulated environment with financial penalties for both drayage carriers and terminal operators.

• A lead time of 24 hours or less for confirming appointments appears to be sufficient to enable terminal operators to plan their daily operations, primarily based on labor dispatch requirements.

• The examples surveyed in this paper suggest that mandatory reservations for all transactions are required to effectively control truck arrival rates and to achieve high utilization and compliance rates.

• Financial penalties appear to be the most effective means of enforcing system compliance.

• The PierPass Traffic Mitigation Fee can be considered as a financial penalty for transactions during the day shift; however its utility in spreading traffic more evenly through the day is limited relative to appointment systems, which can be fine-tuned to determine truck arrivals in smaller time intervals (typically one hour) to enable consistent turn times even during interruptions in terminal operations for lunch breaks, etc.

• The incremental costs of a system to accomplish the objectives of reducing local and regional congestion and low total turn times will vary depending on initial conditions. In Port Botany, ongoing costs related to implementation of the Port Botany Landside Improvement Strategy included an increase in wharfage fees of AUS$10 per TEU, and an increase in reservation fees of AUS$5. However, the terminals were already operating 24 hour truck gates and the reservation system was already in place.

• The Port Botany and Vancouver systems require rigid adherence to advance notice requirements and scheduled appointments. In contrast, the system in use at Southampton allows greater flexibility, enabling users to make appointments up to the end of the appointment window and move them within a 6 hour window, if reservations are available.

Download the paper on container terminal reservations system performance, or review the Journal of Commerce story and article.