July 29 2019
APM Terminals focuses on trucker experience
APM Terminals is testing a number of initiatives across 10 key terminals to improve the trucker experience. Initiatives have been developed using APM Terminals’ I-cycle (Improvement Cycle) methodology, which is being used company-wide to deliver an industry-leading customer experience.
The project commenced in 2018 by interviewing more than 200 truck drivers. The overarching feedback was that truck drivers and dispatchers need clear, relevant, and timely information around the process of delivering and picking up containers. This helps them to plan their days/trips to the terminal as efficiently as possible. The results also identified the lack of a channel for truck drivers to provide terminals with honest and timely feedback.
Subject Matter Experts from each terminal developed a number of solutions and prototypes which were tested with a group of truck drivers and dispatchers during a Design Workshop held in Port Elizabeth, USA.
Terminal alerts via text or email
At selected terminals, known operational issues are being announced via an alert message on the terminal’s website. As of September 2019, truckers will be able to sign up to receive these alerts via text message or email. “This enables truckers to proactively adjust their schedule and gives them a clearer understanding of any delays,” says Fran Ohlheiser, Client Services Manager at APM Terminals Los Angeles. The company is also working on increasing the number of terminals with live gate cameras available on www.apmterminals.com, so that drivers can see the status at the gate real time.
Other initiatives to proactively reduce delays at the gate have also been introduced. For example, terminals such as APM Terminals Gothenburg now text or email their truck drivers in advance to warn them that their terminal documentation is due to expire. This prevents unexpected delays at the gate.
Advanced notification of truck-turn-times
Each terminal has identified opportunities to offer greater transparency around queue and truck-turn-times within the terminal. At APM Terminals Los Angeles for example, these are displayed on information boards along the 1.5-mile approach to the terminal. At APM Terminals Gothenburg, expectations are managed by displaying estimated truck turn times at the gate. APM Terminals is currently developing an online solution to display real-time waiting times and turn times at each terminal on www.apmterminals.com.
Trucker Care Agents have been appointed at the pilot terminals. The agent’s role is to provide information to truckers in case of unavoidable delays and work to limit the delay as much as possible, hand out refreshments and ultimately to provide the drivers with a sounding board to voice their frustrations and concerns.
Giving truckers a voice
“This level of emotional recognition for having this structurally in place should not be underestimated,” explained Catherine Hunt, Gate Operations Manager at APM Terminals Port Elizabeth. “Initial feedback from drivers has been extremely positive. Sometimes it’s not operationally feasible to move a piece of equipment from one congested area of the yard to service a single driver, but it is possible for us to apologize, and ensure that drivers know they are valued customers and their business and time matters.”
To assist Trucker Care Agents, for example, APM Terminals Port Elizabeth have launched a an automated iDashboard to provide Gate and Yard staff with a breakdown of transactions for the next 120 minutes. This enables Trucker Care Agents to locate drivers with longer transaction times. At APM Terminals Valencia, Spain, Agents currently visit truckers who have been waiting more than 70 minutes. They are using the feedback provided to prevent future delays.
While the initiatives are at various stages of implementation across different terminals, the positive impact is already being measured using truck driver’s NPS score, together with nine other measures for each solution. APM Terminals Port Elizabeth has already serviced around 70 truckers since the launch of the solution and will continue to develop digital solutions with the launch and implementation of N4 TOS.