In a previous article, we discussed the options available to inland terminals for automation on the landside, especially through the digitalisation and automation of stacking rules. For the loading and unloading of containers on the waterside, there are also several automation solutions. Take the automatic reading of loading and unloading lists and stowage plan data, for example, which allows crane operators and barge operators to work with greater ease and efficiency. Activities related to quay planning and work planning can be simplified and made more transparent as well. In this article, we present various automation solutions for loading and unloading containers on the waterside.
Automatically reading loading and unloading lists
Various types of messages are exchanged between the barge operator and/or shortsea shipping line, ship and terminal. The barge operator or shortsea shipping line communicates the provisional loading and/or unloading list with both the ship and the terminal.
A barge operator sends the loading or unloading list to the system of the barge in the form of an IFTMIN-BICS message. For the inland terminal, the barge operator now often prints out the loading/unloading list from the Modality system and sends this to the inland terminal as an Excel list or PDF.A shortsea operator usually sends the loading list to the terminal in the form of an EDI message (COPRAR-Load). The discharge list is commonly sent in the form of an EDI message (COPRAR Discharge) as well.The communication between the barge operator and/or shortsea shipping line and the inland terminal can be automated in several ways. For example, EDI messages (COPRAR-Load/Discharge) can be automatically read by the Modality system of the terminal. It is also possible to use a direct API interface for the communication between the system of the barge or shortsea operator and the Modality system of the terminal.
Automatically reading and sending stowage plan data
When the skipper receives the loading and unloading data from the IFTMIN-BICS, they use this information to make a stability calculation and, with that, a stowage plan. The data from the stowage plan (also called “bay plan”) can be sent to the terminal in an EDI message. This EDI message is also called a BAPLIE (BAyPlan Including Empties) message and indicates the exact location of specific containers aboard the vessel. The shortsea/barge skipper communicates the stowage plan information, both for inbound and for outbound cargo, with the inland terminal so that the terminal has up-to-date insight into the layout of the vessel. As a result, the crane operator at the terminal knows exactly where specific containers are located on board and the terminal operation can ensure that the correct containers are ready to be loaded based on the outbound stowage plan.
After the cargo has been unloaded, the crane operator starts loading the ship. The position of the loaded containers is registered in the Modality crane application. Once all the containers are on board, the terminal sends a BAPLIE message to the ship containing the stowage plan positions of the newly loaded containers and the containers that have remained on board.
Modality offers system functions to automatically read BAPLIE messages for both inland shipping and shortsea. Furthermore, we have developed a stowage plan module that allows the crane operator to establish a container’s location on the ship by means of a graphical overview. It is also possible to confirm the loaded containers in the stowage plan via the touchscreen.
The use of graphical overviews contributes to more efficient quay planning
Graphical overviews ensure more efficient quay planning
In addition to the automatic reading of loading and unloading lists and stowage plan data, graphical overviews also provide an excellent tool to boost efficiency.
For example, we have developed the ‘quay planning’ module for terminals. The quay planning provides graphical insight into the occupancy of the quay. This overview shows the quay length(s) on one axis and a timeline on the other axis. Depending on the average number of moves per hour, the Modality system calculates the period during which the ship will occupy the quay. As a result, the quay planning has accurate insight into the occupancy when making agreements with barges and ships.
Furthermore, it is possible to integrate a graphical overview of the stack into the system. This will show the containers in the stack, with their position and colour-coded properties (think of shipping line, weight and planning).
Work planners can use this graphical stack overview to determine the position of the containers that need to be loaded in a single, clear overview.
Using the voyage monitor web module supports work planning
Besides the graphical stack overview, the voyage monitor is another convenient module to support the work planning process. This web overview offers terminal employees a clear list which shows them exactly when a certain ship is expected at which berth and how many handlings will need to be performed. In practice, we see that the voyage monitor is often displayed on large screens in different rooms. In addition to the operational staff on the quay, the planners and management consequently also have insight into the current quay occupancy and the progress of the work.
As you can see, there are several options to automate the communication between barge operators, shortsea shipping lines, skippers and terminals. Furthermore, useful modules are available to make terminal operations on the waterside more efficient and surveyable. Would you like more information about our automation solutions for loading and unloading containers on the waterside? Our Sales Department will gladly explain the possibilities and the interfaces with existing systems. Please contact them directly via email@example.com or +31 (0) 180 531 035.