New Appointment System Poses Interesting Challenges
A new trucker appointment system is posing some unique challenges for Oakland’s largest terminal. The system, which was implemented via a regulatory mandate, has not been the easiest to put into effect. While some say that the system has led to improvements, others don’t agree. Risks about demurrage costs due to insufficient slots have caused some of those involved to voice complaints.
Oakland International Container Terminal’s experience may serve as an example to other BCOs who ship through seaports in the future. Due to increased cargo volumes, even the largest ports have struggled to handle traffic. The traditional 40-hour work week has proved to be in sufficient to handle these needs, leading many terminals to add second shifts. However, the use of mandatory appointments to spread out truck flow evenly over these 16 hour days has proved to be a controversial move.
The second-largest tenant in Oakland terminated its lease and declared bankruptcy this past spring. Outer Harbor Terminal’s exit from the market led to nearly all of its container volume arriving at Oakland’s International Container Terminal. Operators at the terminal noted that it now handles roughly 4,600 gate moves during normal daytime shifts and 1,200 trucks during night shift. These numbers even surpass those at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port area.
The challenge this system poses involves truckers having to secure their appointment before the time they have to store their imported containers runs out. Everyone is worried about stacking up storage fees. These fees, which are known as demurrage, can serve as a very difficult financial burden to deal with.
Even nightshifts don’t do much to resolve the problem, as many truckers and warehouses don’t operate during these hours. This program has changed up the way things work in the Oakland area, and is scheduled to be reevaluated in two months.