Shippers and motor carriers have embraced new technology at the ITS terminal in Long Beach that gives better visibility into import container availability.
Advent Intermodal Solutions, LLC. recently announced an expansion to its eModal community portal to enable predictive visibility into when import cargo becomes available for pickup at a marine terminal. After a pilot project International Transportation Service, Inc leveraged this to begin offering its gate customers the ability to indicate their desire to either request an appointment slot or complete a pre-arrival notification automatically.
ITS saw an opportunity and working with Advent embarked on developing a data exchange system that would give shippers, BCOs and motor carriers the ability to see and predict when their cargo will be discharged five days prior to a vessel arrival.
At the moment a lot of shippers monitor vessel ETA data, but this has limited value. Lindsay explained that a container could be discharged in any one of six shifts working a vessel, and terminals in LA Long Beach commonly work two shifts per day. Vessels are not unloaded randomly, however. ITS has the vessel bay plan and knows the crane discharge sequence, how many cranes will be deployed and their average productivity. Based on this data ITS can forecast when a specific container will be unloaded “with reasonable certainty” said Lindsay.
Through eModal it is now sharing that data with gate customers to inform their requests for appointments. This required some development work around the TOS, which at ITS is an in-house system that Advent has worked on previously, as well as extensions to eModal.
Lindsay said the results have been very encouraging. The system is very intuitive and easy to set up for gate customers, and ITS has also been running outreach sessions at the terminal for those that want to come in and have it explained first hand. In the first week the system was opened to all customers ITS took 150 requests for appointments, and that number had jumped to over 600 in four weeks.
Automation at the systems level has also reduced work for ITS. It is taking fewer calls from trucking companies trying to establish when containers will be available, which staff previously tried to answer by looking at the bay plan. Manual work has been replaced by data exchange that gets system talking to each other, Lindsay stressed.
ITS is excited about the possibilities the initiative is opening up to improve its yard planning so yard stacks better match the flow of trucks coming to collect imports. It plans to leverage the system and its new data to support three goals: