One System to Rule Them All: Addressing the Many Needs of a Multi-purpose Port
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing especially when it comes to data and information? That certainly appears to be the case for multi-purpose terminal operators as they have to handle different types of cargo and content with the array of different operating processes and tasks, which invariably require the use of various systems to manage the operating and management workflows.
These systems could range from manually prepared spreadsheets, to bespoke inhouse development and disparate TOS software that aren’t compatible with each other, posing a challenge to multi-purpose terminal owners who often struggle to reconcile and make sense of multiple data and information streams due to the disparate nature of the goods at their docks.
While there’s no silver bullet to help bind everything together for those running multi-purpose ports, help is available in the form of cloud-based systems developed from existing container facility management systems. Such systems are capable of handling multiple tasks – billing, asset and yard management, workflow as well as truck scheduling – while streamlining the flow of data and information into a single coherent picture.
Why do multi-purpose ports require a single system?
Developing countries, where the local supply chain infrastructure is still not fully geared for containerized transportation, are building and equipping multi-purpose ports that can handle different cargoes ranging from aggregate bulk like grains, to RoRo cars and liquids like LPG, allowing them to meet targeted consumer needs; while such facilities offer a greater breadth of goods that can be brought in or sent out of a country, they also pose a greater challenge in terms of unitizing and standardizing information flow.
Specialized container mega-terminals don’t face this issue as each unit of shipment is of a uniform dimension which allows them to streamline operations. Terminal operating systems, or TOS, developed for container ports are now evolving to help multi-purpose terminal operators consolidate data flow stemming from various cargo operations and improve workflow efficiency.
Such TOS are cloud-based, enabling users to do away with high implementation and server infrastructure costs as these concerns are fully absorbed and managed by the TOS vendor, providing cost savings while increasing efficiency and boosting the competitiveness of multi-purpose ports vis-à-vis their larger counterparts.
How does a TOS improve workflow and operations?
The web-based interface that a TOS operates from is a gateway to a more efficient world, similar to how one would use it to access information from cyberspace. This is possible due to its full Java and HTML5 architecture which allows it be deployed as a cost-effective solution for multi-purpose terminals wishing to achieve greater productivity, lower operational costs, better safety and operational optimization.
The system renders visual imagery of port facilities in real-time 3D – providing equipment and cargo views plus monitoring of assets, goods, flow, storage levels on top of better data flow management – to improve planning, management, workflow scheduling and operations.
This feature enables users to zoom in on specific equipment and cargo, for instance RoRo vehicles parked on different levels of a multi-storey car park, review grain storage levels in silos, check the amount of LPG in tanks while deciding how to schedule the terminal trucks, crane, spreaders, etc. to optimize the loading, unloading and storing. Yard assets can be monitored for job deployments, schedule congestion redistribution and possible equipment failure.
Container yard slots are dynamically allocated via an advanced yard planning function, removing any need to pre-reserve valuable yard positions. The system cuts vessel planning time through a function that evaluates options based on operation criteria, cargo weight distribution, operational patterns and an optimization engine. Planners can use the hours gained from these two areas to improve their responsiveness in readying the yard for vessel operations.
Equipment productivity is further enhanced by the system which processes information such as crane workload and job priorities before assigning jobs to truck drivers, eliminating unnecessary truck travel while increasing cost efficiency. A comprehensive vehicle booking sub-system helps operators regulate the arrival of external trucks, improving workload management while preventing traffic congestion at cargo gates and yards.
Users can access key features of the TOS via their mobile devices as it is optimized for deployment on such platforms; all that’s needed are wireless Internet connection and browser as the software is fully web-based for anytime, anywhere accessibility. This allows them to check their work schedules and plan ahead from management down to individual contributors.
Safety is enhanced with an easy zoom function that provides information for closer monitoring of yard operations, further enabling participants to make safe and prudent decisions quickly. A comprehensive billing system for all services provided by the terminal, inclusive of stevedorage, storage, electricity consumption, etc., along with tariff and contract management is built into the system to enhance financial workflow, credit tracking and improve cash flow.
One system to manage them all
An ever-evolving international trade and supply model has resulted in mounting pressure on operators in the global maritime and logistics sectors. Terminals face invariable demands to improve their role as a hub of commercial exchange while constantly seeking to optimize the productivity, profitability and efficiency of their operations. In addition, multi-purpose and multiple terminal operators must grapple with supplementary challenges that add to the complexity of the operational environment.
Fortunately for the owners of today’s multi-purpose ports, OPUS Terminal is an advanced TOS based on the latest technology designed specifically to handle containers and all types of cargo from vehicles to break-bulk, project and bulk cargo. The system is fully configurable and can be deployed either as a cloud- based or on-premise solution, further enhancing its flexibility while providing a cost-effective solution for any terminal seeking to achieve optimum equilibrium with raising productivity, reducing operation costs, enhancing work safety and optimizing operational efficiency.
Multi-purpose terminal operators can manage the entire spectrum of their operations in real-time and keep track of all cargo movements via one system. Users can tap into the software’s multi-terminal capability to manage separate facilities in various locations and time zones from a single server installation, giving them a scalable solution accommodating today’s operational needs and tomorrow’s blueprint for expansion.