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Utilisation of web applications plays crucial role in automation inland terminal CCT
Utilisation of web applications plays crucial role in automation inland terminal CCT

The linking of web modules to the central ICMS application is highly important for the extensive automation of inland terminals. The crucial role of web applications in the automation of the external operations was already highlighted in a previous interview with CTVrede. In this article, Peter van Veelen, General Manager at Combined Cargo Terminals (CCT), will explain the diversity of web applications that CCT has implemented. And, even more importantly, which advantages (and competitive edges) the use of web applications has provided.

Process optimisation through the use of web applications
Not only does CCT offer excellent storage and transhipment facilities for various modalities, but the terminal also serves as a strategic port of call for shortsea routes to and from destinations in Northern Europe, Southern Europe and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, it is working on the optimisation of the cargo flows from and to the port of Rotterdam in a partnership with Barge Terminal Tilburg (BTT) and Oosterhout Container Terminal (OCT). Various web applications have been developed and integrated to ensure that the numerous operational processes surrounding these services run as effectively as possible. The use of these web applications has resulted in the following benefits for CCT:

  • - More efficient operation
  • - Improved inspections
  • - Scalable processes
  • - Better and fast communication to the customer
  • - Improved insight into data of cargo flows

In the paragraphs below, we will explain which applications CCT has implemented and the added value that each individual application has provided.

Reachstacker Applicatie CCT

Reach stacker web application
About five years ago, CCT started with the development of a reach stacker web application to replace the traditional wireless application that had already been in use for some time. This made it possible to replace the less user-friendly and somewhat cumbersome screens from the reach stackers with convenient tablets. Making use of the web application for this purpose enables employees in the external operation to properly perform inspections and take pictures of any irregularities and damage. The implementation of the reach stacker application was an important test for CCT.

Peter: “We assessed whether the project with the reach stacker web application was feasible and scalable. We quickly established that the implementation was successful and we saw the potential for other applications.”

The successful implementation of the reach stacker application provided CCT with solid insight into the possibilities and benefits that the optimisation of other processes could bring. Shortly thereafter, several web applications were developed and implemented.

Webmodule Kadeplanning CCT

Transport planning terminal trucks, stowage plan and quay planning
Following the implementation of the reach stacker web application, the transport planning and transport orders of the terminal trucks were migrated to a web application as well. This allowed for even more efficient planning and made it possible to communicate status information to the customer with increased speed and accuracy. Meanwhile, it has also become possible to gain insight into the stowage plans of the ships alongside the quay through a similar web application. The inspector is able to closely monitor the loading and unloading plan on a tablet and no longer needs to use paper lists. Not only does this substantially speed up the work, but it holds practical advantages as well, especially in bad weather. The most substantial benefit to date however is the development of a web application for quay planning. Thanks to this application, (work) planners have a real-time overview of the expected cargo and of which containers have already been loaded.

Peter: “The planning process has become much faster and the system is far less sensitive to errors (compared to the Excel overviews used in the past), but it is now also possible to work in the web environment with 30 people simultaneously.”

The office of CCT has been equipped with voyage monitors that display a current view of the quay planning. In addition to planning and work preparation, customer service and the drivers’ service desk also gladly make use of the current loading and unloading information.

Further optimisation logistics processes
CCT's continuous drive to further optimise logistics processes has resulted in the replacement of regular tablets by professional, industrial variants. CCT has also switched from a Wi-Fi connection to the 4G network in order to increase the range even further, allowing for terminal trucks to be tracked when they leave the site as well. Currently, CCT and Modality are developing a digital stack overview. This stack planning must ensure that 'job-driven' operations become possible. For example, an employee on a reach stacker is currently still able to determine which activities they will perform in which order. In order to further boost efficiency, the system will be the determining factor for this in the future. Work is also in full swing on the development of a customer portal.

Peter: “We serve different types of customers. Our customers who are involved in intermodal transport, for example, have different data needs than the shortsea operators. Both types of customers will soon have their own portal containing their own data provision. This allows us to display customs status, loading and unloading lists or stocks.”

Benefits for your inland terminal
The development and integration of web applications therefore is a crucial step in the automation of inland terminals and in boosting their effectivity. Gaining more up-to-date insight into data, improving operations and processes and being able to execute them more swiftly, minimising error margins and the ability to provide customers with more accurate feedback are the main benefits of working with web applications. Would you like to know which options are available for your processes? Or do you need advice with determining the priorities and drawing up a roadmap? We will gladly think along with you! You can contact us directly via the button below.

Modality connects customers with seaports in Northern Europe
Modality connects customers with seaports in Northern Europe

Speed, accuracy and enhanced security are important reasons for European seaports and the deepsea terminals that operate there to strongly focus on automation and digitisation. The exchange of data through Electronic Data Exchange (EDI) plays a central role in automation and digitisation. Initially starting out with the establishment of bilateral EDI connections, the largest European seaports have over time started to pursue more modern initiatives. Through close cooperation with terminals and the community systems of port authorities and an active involvement in the development of all EDI projects in the various ports, Modality connects its customers with the major seaports in Northern Europe.

Data exchange through EDI messages
Originally, barge operators, among others, had to exchange paper lists in order to be able to load or unload containers in the seaports. Nowadays, data such as PIN codes and booking numbers are exchanged by means of EDI messages. The deepsea terminals in the seaport have drawn up mandatory EDI guidelines for this.
However, the various terminals have implemented these guidelines in different ways. Modality closely monitors the developments within the various ports. Below, you will find an overview of operational EDI interfaces and current developments for the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremerhaven.

Data exchange in Rotterdam
Modality at one time set up the first bilateral EDI connection together with ECT, but nowadays almost all communication pertaining to the pick-up and delivery of containers at the sea terminals by inland shipping, rail and truck runs through Portbase. With this, the port of Rotterdam has centralised the exchange of messages. Within the EDI connections, we make a distinction between the traditional EDI interface (Edifact COPINO scenario Barge/Rail/Truck) and the more modern Hinterland Container Notification (HCN) variant (API interface). This API connection provides a greater increase in handling speed and enrichment of the existing container data, such as cargo opening and cargo closing times. More information about the transition to HCN Barge is available in in our article: Eventually, the traditional COPINO scenarios for truck and rail will switch to the HCN variant as well.

Data exchange in Antwerp
Logistics parties in Antwerp must also pre-notify via EDI messages for the pick-up or delivery of containers. Two parties play an important role in this; PSA and DP World. The exchange of EDI messages has been set up in a decentral manner in Antwerp.

PSA & DP World
The current, traditional model at the PSA terminals, including MSC PSA European Terminal (MPET), consists of an Edifact COPINO scenario for barge and rail activities and an XML interface for trucks that pick up or deliver containers. In the current model, DP World uses a traditional Edifact COPINO scenario for barge and rail and an XML interface for trucks as well. Both systems work through one-to-one connections.

Certified Pick-up
In the second half of this year, the so-called ‘Certified Pick-up (CPU)’ process will be implemented for the pick-up of full import containers in the port of Antwerp. By means of the CPU, the port of Antwerp is adding additional security regarding the request of PIN codes. Modality is currently specifying and developing a number of modules which allow customers to integrate the CPU process within their existing Modality system if desired.

Data exchange in Hamburg and Bremerhaven
Modality is also familiar with the required EDI scenarios for the ports of Hamburg (with deepsea terminals HHLA, Eurogate and Unikai) and Bremerhaven (Eurogate, NTB) and is able to integrate them into the existing Modality system.

Do you want to anticipate these developments and also integrate one or more EDI link-ups into your system? Contact us and we will be happy to discuss the options!


Rapid and broad sharing of data limits impact disruptions
Rapid and broad sharing of data limits impact disruptions

The blockage of the Suez Canal at the end of March was the subject of extensive media coverage. The public suddenly became aware of the vulnerability of production and transport chains. Impressive images of a (relatively) small excavator next to the bow of a gigantic, stranded container ship, in combination with statements about the ‘tsunami of containers’ en route to Rotterdam, attracted a lot of attention.

Looking back, it is dangerous to say that ‘it wasn’t really that big a deal’. On the contrary: it is actually due to a fast and adequate response, with digital technologies, that problems were averted. Just like the real-time sharing of data actually prevents problems on an almost daily basis. It is with good reason that Portbase immediately launched a web page that allowed for the ETA of the various delayed ships to be continuously monitored in response to this situation.

Any party operating between the deepsea ports and the hinterland, such as a barge operator, for example, knows that there are uncertainties that can disrupt the planning for the timely handling of (intercontinental) cargo. Think of unfavourable water levels on the rivers, strikes, traffic jams or congestion at deepsea terminals - just to name a few challenges.

No influence on the weather
As Modality, we have no influence on the weather, water levels and any labour disputes that may occur in the port. However, we do set up our software in a manner that allows for the supply chain to be monitored as accurately as possible and for disruptions to be immediately and proactively identified. This is only possible with an optimal exchange of data.

Delays at the deepsea terminals (‘congestion’) have less impact on barge operators if information is known and shared in a timely manner. From berth availability to time slots for handling, from delays at sea to water levels on the Rhine: the nautical journey between seaport and hinterland can often be planned more accurately than transport across a section of road – provided that parties properly share and process information. Modality is the hub for the sharing of that data, as is the case for Hinterland Container Notification (HCN), for example.

HCN and integrated planning
Calls involving barges and containers are pre-notified at terminals and depots via a single portal with HCN Barge. In addition, HCN Barge provides input for the integrated planning of each port visit. This yields important benefits, such as a uniform working method for all terminals and depots and the possibility to request the container status prior to the pre-notification.

Various measures
Changes in planning due to congestion will continue to occur. Fortunately, the problem is addressed in several ways. Firstly, physically: through the construction of additional berths for inland vessels.

Furthermore, it is the larger parties who, on the basis of fixed window agreements at the deepsea terminals, try to minimise delays in the seaport.

For parties that do not have sufficient volumes to make such agreements, the establishment of the Barge Transferium Maasvlakte (BTM) has constituted a welcome improvement.

BTM is a collaboration between Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT) and a consortium of inland terminals and barge operators. In this collaboration, ECT makes a section of quay with crane and crane team available to the consortium on prearranged days and times at a fixed rate.

At BTM, the barge operators take care of the planning themselves and the participating parties consult with one another as to when and how often they will moor alongside the quay. For this initiative, the digital sharing of data is also essential in order for the aforementioned ‘mutual consultation’ to succeed.

Modern systems use so-called APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to exchange data. The main benefits of this technology are speed and standardisation. The data that is offered within the API is immediately available to all users in the chain who are technologically willing and able to make use of it.

It is precisely a crisis such as the Suez blockage that clearly illustrates the benefits that digital data can deliver to the chain parties. Modality shares and processes the data for you, so that your customers are not or hardly affected by disruptions.

Do you want to know what sharing and processing data means for your organisation? We would be happy to explain the possibilities in a personal meeting. You can contact us directly via the button below.


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