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Myth v Fact; the truth about VBS appointments

12 September 2017

In August DP World Southampton experienced a greater demand on its Vehicle Booking System (VBS) and landside operations as our customers arranged to collect their containers. To some customers and their hauliers trying to book, it also appeared that vehicle appointments had become unavailable.

There have been many misconceptions about what’s been causing the ‘unavailability’ of vehicle appointments, so we thought we’d set the record straight.

We did not remove appointments or drop our productivity levels. Our landside operations were working ‘full pelt’ and more efficiently than ever to manage the demand of VBS appointments in unique circumstances. Despite an extremely busy period in August, neither our productivity nor customer service was compromised.

The Myth

Our transfer areas were experiencing heavy traffic queues and hauliers were unable to book a VBS appointment for the date and time they wanted because we (DPWS) had been taking VBS appointments out of the system.  Wrong. Here’s what really happened.


The Facts

On 25th July, we experienced a peak in landside activity due to the arrival of a double FE2 service, one running a week behind schedule. Our VBS was in huge demand as hauliers headed to the terminal to collect their containers. Under normal circumstances we always offer a minimum of 125 truck appointments per hour, this amount gives us a buffer to allow for any operational stoppages without creating truck queues. Where we can we will increase this amount if we see everything is running well and there is demand for more bookings.

An additional 225 appointments were added to the system during the day on the 25th to manage the demand and allow more vehicles to be serviced in peak times. While our customers thought we were removing VBS appointments, they were, in fact, being added.

With such a high number of vehicles entering the terminal and VBS appointments being taken, our sub 35 minute truck turnaround time (the fastest of any UK terminal I might add) took a brief hit. Although this may have appeared as though our productivity levels were decreasing, a terminal record for the amount of trucks that were serviced in 12 hours was set.    

Following the double FE2 service, the MSC Jade arrived days before and discharged the highest volume of containers Southampton has ever handled on one vessel. Our operations where pushed once more. To accommodate the additional volume, further VBS bookings were added during peak periods and the landside opening hours were extended over the weekend to allow hauliers to plan their collection and turn their trucks around.


Still delivering the best

So there it is. We were faced with an unusual set of circumstance which saw an unprecedented amount of containers discharged into our stack and a spike in demand from customers wanting to collect their cargo.  And, despite this we still maintained our trademark productivity and efficiency.

While the shipping line services are still unsettled, please keep checking our website for live information on vessel schedules and our port status.

Specifically click on our truck turnaround times from our home page and it will take you to our ‘live’ port status dashboard.  Here you can see how many VBS appointments have been issued and how many have been used in the last 24 hours.  As well as our turnaround times.




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