Achieving optimum productivity is always on the minds of senior management, and as the level of competition escalates, this becomes an increasing concern with larger ships and bigger ports raising the stakes. The concept of today’s smart ports is to help terminal operators and shipping lines maximise productivity and reduce turnaround times by investing in smarter, more connected IT infrastructure.
The challenge is to keep it in alignment with operational and revenue goals and vessel-at-berth productivity is an important indicator of terminal efficiency. Traditionally speaking, crane-moves-per-hour is the metric most closely tied to ship turnaround times. This metric reflects the carrier’s priorities in offloading its cargo in the shortest time. Clearly the point is for berthed vessels to optimise the planning and management of containers at the terminal to quickly offload and load their cargo so that they can get back to sea. So having a good terminal operating solution that can intelligently optimise operations and eliminate congestion from the berth to the gates is one of the keys to building tomorrow’s smart port.
A smart terminal needs to find balance in managing resources and equipment and having a global pool system optimised and managed by an intelligent Terminal Operating System eliminates the complexities of juggling the equipment manually. Instead it intelligently discharges its plan based on an algorithm that considers the Internal Terminal Vehicle (ITV) workload, the yard movement sequence and the customer’s requirements all in real-time. It then assigns the closest ITV to its targeted container, and it activates the activity by dispatching the ITV according to the impending job requirements. This maximises efficiency levels as time and cost savings become key metrics for tomorrow’s port, as streamlining the movement of cargo is highly critical.
Terminal operators must devote the optimal level of cargo-handling equipment to each vessel call so that congestion does not emerge as a chokepoint. A good Terminal Operating System can be configured to respond to the dynamic yard situation in real-time with its advanced yard planning system. Such features manage container allocation in real-time, responding to critical paths and priorities on hand. Having a global pooling feature for the ITVs within the yard can intelligently allocate jobs based on priorities.
The functions of an intelligent terminal operating system are developed based on the specific requirements of the terminal so that they can operate according to their needs. Intelligent vessel planning places containers efficiently around the yard. Controlled through user configurable patterns, priorities, and smart workflow design, an optimal vessel operation pattern is created.
Without these fundamental features, the operations will not be cohesive and efficient. For these reasons, terminal operators need to adopt a sound IT strategy to facilitate optimal terminal, crane and vessel operations and cater for fluctuations and exceptions. The idea of optimising port-stay is the key goal for every smart terminal so the adoption of an intelligent terminal solution can drive up productivity and reduce errors.