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CTVrede first inland terminal with web-based outdoor operations
CTVrede BV is the first inland terminal in the Netherlands to have fully web-based outdoor operations. A special achievement that creates flexibility, a scalable business model and cost savings. In this article, we ask André Klous, ICT Manager at CTVrede, about the realisation of the new and transition to the current terminal.
“CTVrede wants to focus on its customers and containers. The IT at our company has to enable and facilitate that, not vice versa.”
CTVrede has a clear vision, particularly in terms of automation. André: “CTVrede wants to focus on its customers and containers. The IT at our company has to enable and facilitate that, not vice versa.” A lot of my time is spent on keeping up the IT infrastructure. I want to use that time to create innovative automation solutions that benefit our customers.” About three years ago, CTVrede started working out a roadmap. The central issue was how the organisation wants to operate tomorrow’s terminal and how to change the way in which work at the office is organised, to bring it more in line with today’s wishes. We drafted several scenarios and compared them. In the end, we opted for a model where only a limited server park would be placed within an external data centre. Most administrative packages (e.g. accounting), as well as all Modality outdoor applications, are hosted in a cloud environment. That means the cloud supplier is now responsible for hosting and maintenance. This new set-up also means that we use a different licence model that allows for most of the software to be invoiced on a monthly basis.
Anticipating developments faster thanks to scalable business model
CTVrede’s new terminal at Hoogtij in Westzaan has been fully operational since September 2019. The existing terminal in Amsterdam switched to using web applications at the start of this month. How much CTVrede benefits from switching to web-based working was clear from day one. The switch from a full office team to working from home, for instance, was made in one day and outdoor operations also continued without too much downtime. The transition to web applications for outdoor operations results in the following benefits:
- A scalable business model
- Flexible market anticipation
- Cost reduction
André: “Using web applications allows us to develop fast. Thanks to this transition, we were able to keep the construction costs for a new terminal within budget. This new way of working also meant that after implementing the stricter measures concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to make the switch within one day, without interrupting our own operations and those of our customers too much.”
Although the vision of a modern, automated terminal was there three years ago, there was no priority for it at that time. The project gained momentum early 2019 when it was decided to construct a new terminal. The new CTVrede Hoogtij terminal was fully operational within six months of the design phase. Another six months later, the existing terminal in Amsterdam had also switched to web applications without any downtime. How? According to André, some of the success can be attributed to Chantalle Blok, D&I coordinator. Chantalle analyses demand on the shop floor, and the office and André translate this into the technical bit. This is a unique function that was incorporated in the roadmap at an early stage. By creating this new function (even though it is an extra cost item, initially), IT projects can be realized faster and more efficiently and it results in a shorter payback period.
Although the project was implemented incredibly fast, it is not without its challenges. André: “With a cloud model, you prefer to have everything standardised. But what works for one terminal doesn’t necessarily work for the other. So you have to coordinate procedures and methods and make concessions sometimes. That’s a particular challenge for those who have to use it in the end. At CTVrede, this process is supervised by the Terminal Manager and the IT Manager, but you mainly need the operators’ input, of course, you can’t offer a proper solution without their input and insights. Right now, we’re still optimising the processes and set-up of the standard basic model to be able to scale up. There’s always room for improvement, but you have to remain cost-efficient.”
“We believe in long-term relationships. We also like partners with a flexible approach to achieve the business targets.”
Strong partnerships are vital for automation processes such as this one. Suppliers must follow at the same pace. CTVrede and Modality have been partners for 23 years, quite an extraordinary collaboration in such a fast-paced world like IT. We’ve also always had a strong partnership with Secure logistics, who supply the CargoCard functionalities. They played a crucial role in this transition as well because solid teamwork between the (external) partners helps to make such a big project a success.
André: “We believe in long-term relationships. We also like partners with a flexible approach to achieve the business targets.”
Ready for the future
So thanks to the transition to web-based applications, CTVrede can grow faster and can anticipate developments better. As they no longer have a data server to manage, they don’t have to worry about maintaining it, and it has facilitated the new way of working. Also, this ties in with the vision that office workers can do their jobs regardless of where they are. Not only did it ease the relocation to a new terminal, but it also meant that the developments concerning the COVID-19 virus were dealt with smoothly. In collaboration with Modality and Secure Logistics, a new terminal was built that's ready for the future!
Want to find out more about this specific automation process or the possibilities to make your outdoor operations web-based too? Please contact us to discuss the details.
The latest innovations within inland terminals
With developments following each other in rapid succession, it is important for organisations to be flexible and innovative. The Covid-19 crisis shows how important digitisation is. Also, the explosive growth of container logistics has increased the need for optimisation and space saving. We support more and more inland terminals in their response strategies to recent developments and their application of smart innovations to optimize container flows. For a number of clients we have implemented systems that were previously only used by deep sea terminals. We will give an overview of the most important innovations.
Barrier security and CargoCard checks
Biometric CargoCard and automatic barrier security, formerly only used in deep sea terminals, have also been put into use at inland terminals for some years. Both solutions provide improved security and control in dealing with visiting trucks.
Slot management and reservations through web portals
Slot management leads to efficient truck traffic management. The loading and unloading capacity of the terminal is displayed in digital hourly slot schedules. Carriers can make a reservation through the linked web portal, with respect to the capacity of cranes and reach stackers. Access to the terminal is not allowed without a slot reservation. After booking a timeslot a reservation number is provided. The driver simply types in the reservation number at the column near the entrance gate. This system provides optimal use of terminal capacity without waiting times.
Speed gates and driver desks
The use of speed gates and driver counters ensures independent handling of drivers inside and outside office hours. Loading and unloading data are linked to the CargoCard. When the driver scans the card, the crane is automatically instructed to pick up the right container. At driver desks the system used is a secure PC on site. At speed gates the system used is a column where the driver needs not leave the truck. The information is given in several languages to support the system’s usability for foreign drivers.
OCR and other camera security systems
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. OCR systems provide automatic recognition and control of container numbers and license plates at the gate. This data is transferred to the Modality system. The Modality system carries out the final check and checks whether the truck or container-combination was expected and opens the gate barrier if the combination is correct. The digital images taken in this process will be stored. The advantage of OCR software is that information is converted quickly and reliably and is less prone to errors than manual processing. Several Inland Terminals use traditional systems, but more accessible alternatives are now entering the market. The latest development in this field is working with OCR systems in cranes. These systems are still in a test phase for inland terminals As soon as applications are ready for operation, we can develop an interface them for you.
Web modules for terminal controls, reach stackers and cranes
For an increasing number of terminals we are developing web modules for the various activities of outdoor operations. These web modules are easily scalable, user-friendly and linked to the central system. A good internet connection is all that is required. As a result, mobility and flexibility will increase greatly. Operators like reach stacker drivers can use tablets which they can use for other purposes, too, like taking a picture of a container.
Graphical overviews of stack positions on terminal
Graphical overviews enable users to maintain an overview of the container stock. Stack positions can be marked for specific use, such as hazardous goods, reefer, etc. In combination with rules for logical stacking, containers will be grouped on the basis of information such as date of unloading or sailing.
Interface with crane PLC for automatic processing of container movements
Increasingly, container cranes are controlled by a computer and therefore form an important part of the terminal automation. This computer, the so-called crane PLC, indicates where the crane is located and what operations are going on.
The crane interface ensures automatic processing of position changes of the moved containers. As a result, the crane operator no longer has to carry out administrative tasks and can concentrate fully on carrying out the container movements. In this way, the number of containers processed per hour can be increased.
Optimization modules to prevent unpaid moves
Various inland terminals now work with optimization modules in which the system indicates the optimal order of container handling. This optimal container handling is calculated by a system algorithm, preventing unwanted, unpaid moves. This optimization also realizes the avoidance of queues at the terminal and finds a good balance in the handling of the different modalities (barge, train, truck).
Your innovation partner
We have installed the above innovative applications several times. In general, we see that terminals that are expanding at a high pace are at the forefront of developments. These growing inland terminals are more likely to run out of space and are therefore faster to implement new solutions. We have been involved in many innovation processes as one of the first parties and are happy to share our experience in order to find the best manner to optimise your container flows.
Would you like to know the most suitable solutions for your situation?
Contact us and we will provide you with personal advice.
PRONTO interface provides actual vessel information
The Port of Rotterdam Authority has made a step towards more information exchange between parties in the port of Rotterdam with the project Pronto. Pronto is an application ment for information exchange about the ‘calls’ of sea-going vessels between nautical service providers. The result is a reliable ETA and ETD. This information is also shared with parties in container hinterland logistics.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority sends actual vessel information (ETA, ETD, ATA, ATD) via an API. In the Modality application the calls can be selected and linked to a booking/container. Monitoring delays and possible problems in the planning will be more easy. Modality has set up this interface for some customers already.
For more information you can contact the Port of Rotterdam Authority or Modality.