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American Shipper

1st U.S. GPS-based container tracking system goes live at Oakland port

1st U.S. GPS-based container tracking system goes live at Oakland port

The Port of Oakland, the Bay Area World Trade Center and a group of technology partners announced Thursday a new technology-based system for truck movement efficiency that allows satellite tracking of containers moved in the Northern California area.

   The first of its kind in the nation, the Advanced Transport Communications System utilizes GPS-enabled mobile phones from Sprint, tracking software from mobile workforce software provider Xora, and container-transaction processing from International Asset Systems. ATCS enables tracking of containers in their 'first and last mile' as they enter or exit the port and as they arrive or depart Northern California retailers and distribution centers.

   'This new communications system in our Port of Oakland Truck Tracker program will help the flow of trucks near the port area,' Port Executive Director Omar Benjamin said in a release. 'Taking this system live will result in fewer vehicle miles driven, less traffic congestion, and fewer emissions.    That is beneficial to truckers, shippers and our neighboring communities.'

   The ATCS technology provides a simple way for truck drivers to enter container information that can be automatically imported into carriers' and shippers' tracking systems. Pressing just a single button on a Sprint phone, the truck driver confirms that the cargo has either been picked up or delivered. The Xora software installed on the phone interprets the data entry and transmits the information via satellite to the IAS Hub, a common operating platform for container shipping moves created by IAS. The IAS Hub automatically translates the data to the format used by the carrier's or shipper's supply-chain visibility system, and automatically imports it into the system. Carriers and shippers' container-tracking staff can log onto their systems 24/7 and see the pickup and delivery data in real time.

   Deployed in a testing phase since last year, Thursday's announcement marked the transition to ATCS's operational phase.

   The port and BAWTC are actively rolling the ATCS out to the local shipping community as a component of the port's Truck Tracker, or PTT, program to improve truck movement efficiency. Already in use by more than 200 truckers and two major shippers and ocean carriers, PTT monitors truck movement by providing real-time tracking for more efficient cargo transport.

   The overall PTT system is also based around GPS technology enabling ocean carriers and shippers to accurately track the progress of trucks as they make their way toward their final delivery points. This visibility allows for more efficient operations at delivery points such as distribution centers.

   “Many of our customers are demanding more real-time information about their deliveries,” said John Gurrad, of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. “With the capabilities provided by PTT, we can provide more accurate and up-to-date information to our customers about where containers are, which helps them be more efficient in terms of inventory management and distribution center planning.”

   According to the developers, the PTT program can save truckers time, fuel and expenses. By increasing truckers' capacity and the operating efficiency of their respective trucking company, the program also cuts traffic congestion and air pollution.

   Traditionally, the collection of 'last mile' data has been problematic for ocean carriers and shippers. The PTT program's ability through the ATCS system to plug information delivery gaps will enable them to more efficiently manage their operations. In addition, the ATCS technology automates what is otherwise a highly inefficient, manual process that takes up a considerable amount of operations time for trucking companies, ocean carriers, and shippers.

   Trucking lines that have had exposure to the program are excited about the benefits it brings. 'This has been a great opportunity for our truckers to learn how to use this technology and experience first hand how it benefits them,' said Bill Aboudi, president of AB trucking. 'One of the best parts of this system, from the trucker’s perspective, is how accessible it is. It works on mobile handsets they already use, the system is user-friendly, and it makes it really easy to get accurate data.'

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