Port surgeon about Queue Management System
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Over the past few months we have visited all Latvian ports and, accordingly, many terminals. We used to observe the same problem: the accumulation of trucks at certain hours. In some places, trucks stand in extremely long lines, irritating local residents (imagine you go out of the yard and run into a logging truck), in other places, large areas are set up for terminals needs, and it is impossible to use the area otherwise, because of all these trucks.
Actually, this is not only Latvian problem. The same thing happens at the approaches to many terminals both in Europe and in Russia – wherever large volumes are delivered not by rail (because the rail provides at least some schedule and predictability), but by road. For example, there is a huge parking lot – about half a hectare next to Novosibirk. In a high season about 400 trucks may be stuck there at a time. It’s just a pity to look at the drivers: they stand there for 12-13 hours in the burning sun, waiting for their turn.
If the drivers could phone and agree with each other about the time of arrival at the terminal, traffic jams would be avoided. But there are hundreds of drivers, and unless they are all work for the same transport company, they won’t be able to coordinate their arrival time to a terminal. But they can be coordinated by the terminal itself. If the terminal has the appropriate tool of course.
And we, Marine Digital, have develop ed such a tool – Electronic Queue. This kind of solution has been long used at many border crossings, but it has not yet reached the ports.
That how it works – an interface appears on the terminal’s website where drivers can see free windows, then enter a phone number and registration number of the truck. Easy as one-two-three. The driver receives a link or SMS and knows that his truck will pass from 13:15 to 13:30. And no need to go to the terminal by 8 in the morning to unload in the afternoon.
Not long ago there were lines at banks, clients had to wait, feeling inconvenient. Nowadays, coming to the same bank with electronic queue, one sees that there are ten people waiting in line, the current number is 270, and the person’s queue’s number is 300. One understands that there’s at least half an hour waiting and can have lunch or make a call without being afraid to miss his turn.
There’s an online board to follow your time, so there is no need to go to the terminal to assess how much you have to wait. A person visits the site, sees the available options and can plan the time. As a result, the loyalty of counterparties increases, the labor productivity of drivers rises, trucks can be used more efficient.
As for the terminal itself, its work becomes more measured, it can evenly distribute the incoming load and, accordingly, it is better to plan the work of employees and equipment. One can see that there’s going to be a large flow in the evening and may ask for additional employees for this time, and if there are few trucks for the evening may let people go home earlier.
Finally, new development opportunities appear. As for now the terminals, having enough space, allocate large areas for parking, then having incoming flow measured, they can use at least part of this territory for other needs. Might be used for additional warehouse or laboratory. And as bonus – additional income or costs reduction simply by standardizing this part of work.
The mechanism is simple but effective. Given the fact that nowadays everyone has a mobile phone, such a system can be beneficial almost immediately. We provide clients with 1 month free trial , during which they manage to distribute access rights, adjust traffic capacity by the hour and get used to the system. Drivers may need more time to realize the convenience of this format in order to start using it. But when they see that colleagues with an electronic ticket are taking turns, and they have to wait for a free time slot, they will want to rebuild.
Further, we will be able to supplement the Electronic line-up with various options – to give drivers the opportunity to photograph and send documents to the port in advance, so that the personnel at the check-in know the cargo of every truck and the exact time of its arrival so they could take some actions considering it. In the meantime, we’ll do a simple but important thing: we will help to distribute the flow of cars so that the terminals themselves work without an emergency, so that transport companies and drivers do not spend time waiting hours in line.
We have already agreed to launch the Electronic Queue at several terminals in Riga, Ventspils and Skult; stevedores in Liepaja are also interested in the product. So you see, in six months in Latvia it will a normal procedure before entering the port, to sign up for an electronic queue. And after Latvia – Finland, Germany, Spain …