The win-win PORTal

by By Carroll McCormick

A new app shows wait times for truckers using the Port of Montreal.

MONTREAL, Que. — With neither pain nor cost to carriers, trucks moving containers in and out of the Port of Montreal will pollute less, thanks to an application the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) launched in October. Called Trucking PORTal, it lets drivers and dispatchers – anyone with a smart phone or computer, actually – see wait times, in real time, on port property.

Some 1,900 trucks a day squeeze into the port to do business at the Cast, Maisonneuve and Racine container terminals. Wait times can be long. But with real-time information on wait times at each terminal, drivers and dispatchers can make strategic decisions.

For example, a driver may note a 109-minute transaction time at Termont, but only 37 minutes at Cast. Thus informed, if he has pickups at both terminals, he’ll likely want to choose the terminal with the lower wait time first. Or perhaps a dispatcher notes that Maisonneuve, where, say, nine loads need picking up, has a long wait time. Knowing this, he can allocate more trucks to be sure that enough turns can be made to fetch all nine loads by closing time.

Licence plate readers and the biometric cards that drivers swipe serve to note when every truck hits different locations; ie., the port entry, staging lanes, terminal entries and exits, and the port exits. Processing these time stamps reveals the progress of every truck heading to and from the terminals, and thus the wait times.

“With this system, I have visibility over every single transaction in the port,” says Daniel Dagenais, vice-president, operations, MPA. And since users can create personal profiles on their smartphone or web Trucking PORTal, including alerts when wait times exceed pre-set levels and histories of their wait times, drivers and dispatchers now know exactly how long they spent on port property.

“The port clocks you when you arrive and when you leave. It is a good way to respond to perceptions with facts,” Dagenais says.

App downloads were nearing 500 – equivalent to about 12% of the active trucks – in the first three weeks. The 53,000 web hits during that time suggest that dispatchers are consulting it heavily. Interestingly, the MPA is logging hits from faraway places such as New York and Halifax, suggesting that other ports are interested in what the MPA has achieved.

In fact, Lane Farguson, communications advisor, Halifax Port Authority, says “We are actively looking at truck tracking in addition to our existing container tracking system.”

The MPA, with the help of the City of Montreal and Transport Quebec, will be expanding Trucking PORTal’s data collection capabilities out into the city road network to even better assist carriers with their trip planning, and further reduce greenhouse gases. The free app can be downloaded from Google Play.

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