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Container terminal gate congestion: Chinese solutions for Europe?

The increase in world trade and changing patterns in the shipping sector has resulted in considerable congestion at container terminals in the major ports of Europe. A study has been conducted by the University of Southern Denmark, Department of Environmental and Business Economics, to solve the problem of truck congestion proposes examples taken from several Chinese marine terminals.

The direct cause of terminal gate congestion is that the amount of trucks arriving during a short period of time exceeds gate capacity. This capacity could either be increased (for example by extending opening hours) or by controlling the arrivals of the trucks. One option, called Pier Pass, was adopted a few years ago in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. It consists of creating off-peak shifts with increased costs. Another method, named the Terminal Appointment System, has been adopted by some terminals in North America. In this system, a terminal operator announces the opening hours and entry quota every hour through a proprietary web-based information system so truckers can choose an entry hour they prefer. This system has benefited several terminals (for example the port of Vancouver). A third option, the Chassis Exchange terminal, used in the Netherlands, consists of allowing trucks to store their containers on wheels in an adjacent open area. By simply switching chassis, the trucker can drop an export container and pick up an import container. The suggested “new� solution proposed by the study, based on operational practices in a number of Chinese marine terminals, has potential for non-Chinese ports as well. However, it primarily suits terminals where exports exceed imports. It consists of assigning a time window to each arriving vessel by the terminal operator. The time window generally opens when enough terminal yard space is available and closes when the vessel arrives. The truckers subsequently get accustomed to arriving within a specific time window. According to the study, a statistical analysis conducted in a terminal at a Chinese port showed that 85% of export containers were sent into the terminal during the first half of a time window thus putting a lot of pressure on a very condensed period of time.. Therefore, adjusting time windows could influence the distribution of truck arrivals. By optimising the position and duration of each time window, the peak arrival hours could be reduced and therefore rationalised with a considerable reduction of truck/driver waiting time. There would also be a decrease in truck pollution as well as storage time and yard fees as another result. After determining the success of the Chinese example, integrating different planning strategies could prove to be a progressive solution for European ports.

PRESS4TRANSPORT is funded by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7)


For further information please contact: Gang CHEN, Department of Environmental and Business Economics, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark gch@sam.sdu.dk +45 6550 1592

PRESS4TRANSPORT is funded by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7)


Container terminal gate congestion: Chinese solutions for Europe?  

The increase in world trade and changing patterns in the shipping sector has resulted in considerable congestion at container terminals in t...

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