West Coast ports now regularly use radio frequency identification tags and readers to speed the processing of trucks at marine terminal gates, and this system is beginning to spread to East Coast ports as well.
The use of active RFID tags began in Los Angeles-Long Beach in conjunction with the ports’ clean-truck program. The tags are affixed to each truck in the ports’ drayage truck registry. As the trucks approach the terminals, the readers provide vital information on the vehicle that the marine clerk uses to allow the truck to enter the terminal, or to deny entry.
Trucks that meet the pollution-reduction standards in the clean-truck program are allowed to enter the facility. Older trucks that do not meet the requirements are denied entry or are directed to a trouble window.
Joe Palazzolo, president of the transportation and logistics consulting firm Palazzolo and Associates, told the Navis World 2012 conference this week that Oakland marine terminal operators are also using RFID technology as part of that port’s clean-truck program, and the tags will soon be used in Seattle-Tacoma as well.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on Sept. 20 that it was partnering with Sustainable Terminal Services Inc., a consortium of terminal operators in the harbor, to bring RFID technology to the East Coast’s busiest port.
The RFID program will improve security at the port, and it will ensure 100 percent compliance with the port’s truck replacement program, the port authority stated.
RFID technology is superior to optical character reader technology, which reads vehicle license plates, and is certainly more efficient than manual processes because RFID tags allow the terminal to track the movement of the truck throughout the terminal, Palazzolo said.
In addition to its use as part of clean-truck programs, RFID technology has widespread benefits for improving efficiency throughout the marine terminal environment. The information from the tag is fed into the terminal operating system and can therefore be used to record the spot where each container is placed in the yard for when it will be retrieved later. The RFID technology is also used to process the truck at the terminal’s out gate.
RFID technology promotes operational efficiency, increased accuracy of data and better asset utilization. Efficiency experts can also use the technology outside the terminal gates. For example, a study underway in Los Angeles-Long Beach uses RFID technology to determine how long trucks wait in queues during the day.
In order to be effective on a port-wide basis, all of the terminal operators must agree upon a single technology. In Southern California, for example, 13 container terminals, through the Los Angeles-Long Beach Marine Terminal Operators Association, adopted a single standard.
Since the 10,000 trucks listed in the ports’ drayage truck registry regularly call at multiple terminals, the single RFID tag affixed to each truck allows the trucks to access all of the terminals, thereby allowing for the efficient processing of all trucks at all of the terminals, Palazzolo said.