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New multi-leg system BTT ensures complete management of the transport chain
In July of this year, Barge Terminal Tilburg (BTT) switched to a completely new multi-leg and multi-location booking system. Due to the exponential growth that BTT has experienced in recent years, there is a need for increased control over processes and a more accurate registration of costs and revenues. In order to be able to register transport movements in detail, connect multiple (international) locations with one another and better streamline processes, the decision is made to develop a new ICMS system. In this article, we explain which requirements the new system has to meet, the manner in which the development came about and how the various modules ensure complete control over the transport chain as well as insight into costs and results.
Multi-leg system: detailed registration of transport movements
The rapid expansion of the terminal network is making transport movements more complex, fuelling the need for more detailed registration of both the different transport legs and the associated costs. The first consultations to map out BTT's needs in detail take place in 2019. The manner in which existing processes can be further optimised and/or automated is critically evaluated. Once the wishes of BTT are identified and prioritised, the various options are discussed. The existing system can be upgraded, for example, or a completely new system can be developed. Adjustments to certain modules often have a knock-on effect throughout the entire system and can have a major impact on the operational and administrative processes. Because BTT wishes to switch to a multi-leg and multi-location system, the decision is made to develop a completely new ICMS system.
Fully automated order processing and other optimised modules
The new booking system must ensure that order processing is fully automated. Among other ways, this is achieved by integrating EDI interfaces with the Nexusz CS-Optimizer and various customer systems in addition to the existing client portal. Furthermore, the systems of the various locations in the Netherlands and Poland are connected to the multi-terminal system. The new system also comprises the following modules:
- - Graphical train and barge planning, intermodal and continental
- - Independent planning for barge transports that is also integrated into the planning system of the West Brabant Corridor
- - Truck planning with an external board computer interface
- - Customs warehouse module for the direct train link with China
- - Gas measurement module with an EWS interface
- - Re-use module
- - Comprehensive integrated sales and purchasing registration
- - Web-based outdoor modules
The graphical truck planning and the board computer interface ensure that drivers directly receive all loading and unloading data digitally via the board computer. Furthermore, processes are better safeguarded and automatic workflows to perform checks are built in. For example, verification takes place as to whether a container that needs to be gas measured does not depart the terminal before this action has been completed. It is also possible to assign user rights to the different locations. For example, the invoicing for the various branches can be viewed from the main location, but not the other way around.
Further growth and optimisation
The basis of the new ICMS system is now fully operational. During the implementation, new wishes regularly arise and the next steps are determined. Recently, an interface was developed together with the party that performs gas measurements. Previously, a container would only be released after the planning department had manually processed the inspection report that was received by e-mail. Following the completion of the interfaces, this almost takes place in real time. Work is also in full swing on the completion of the new BTT site in Bergen op Zoom.
Proud of partnership
We have been involved in BTT's automation processes since 1997. We are therefore quite proud to be able to develop the new multi-leg ICMS system for BTT and to continue to serve as a growth partner of BTT in the coming years as well!
Would you like to know more about the development of a multi-leg and multi-location booking system? Contact us and we will gladly discuss the details with you.
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.
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.
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
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: https://www.modality.nl/nl/blog/overgang-naar-mca-barge. 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.
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!