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CCT Moerdijk about the West-Brabant Corridor success
CCT Moerdijk about the West-Brabant Corridor success

Combined Cargo Terminals Moerdijk (hereafter CCT Moerdijk) is an important link in one of the most successful partnerships in combining container shipments to the hinterland: the West-Brabant Corridor. A partnership with many benefits for the partners and their clients and a substantial contribution to reducing congestion in the port of Rotterdam. In this article Peter van Veelen tells us about the establishment of the West-Brabant Corridor, the improvements as a result of the cooperation and he also reveals the secret behind the joint success.

More efficient handling
CCT Moerdijk was established more than sixteen years ago. With stevedoring as its main economic activity, CCT Moerdijk has grown into an organisation employing some 120 people and with 32 hectares of land and 1,500 metres of quayside. CCT is an inland hub between seaport and hinterland accessible by water, rail and road. In addition, CCT Moerdijk also handles sea-going vessels and offers breakbulk operations. These include different types of project cargo such as wind turbines, big bags etc. Within its intermodal role, CCT Moerdijk has entered into cooperation with BTT and OCT . As central planning takes place at the Moerdijk location, CCT is the pivot of the West-Brabant Corridor. One of the most successful initiatives in combining cargo to ensure more efficient handling of container flows to the hinterland.

Increasing congestion
The increasing congestion in the port of Rotterdam led to talks on possible partnerships as early as 2008. Peter: "Our ships were underway for about four to five days due to the lack of sufficient volume to make point-to-point connections. A delay in the first stop often caused a negative domino effect in the rest of the arrangements for loading and unloading. Not only does this take a lot of time, it also increases the risk that customers lose confidence in your barge service." At the time, a lack of confidence and a declining market meant that cooperation did not get off the ground. In 2017, talks were resumed and the owners of CCT Moerdijk, Barge Terminal Tilburg (hereafter BTT) and Oosterhout Container Terminal (hereafter OCT) came together to compare individual volumes. These turned out to match well. Peter: "We then entered into a dialogue with the sea terminals and sought cooperation with the Port Authority. As more parties got involved, confidence got bigger and the sea terminals offered commitment to fixed windows".

West Brabant Corridor

Directors Wil Versteijnen and Luc Smits felt that developments were lacking and in January 2018 they decided not to wait any longer and make a start. The planners, at that time still at the Tilburg location, were faced with a major change in working methods. Not only were volumes many times higher, also other sailing methods were introduced (windows, point-to-point sailing). However, within six weeks the first structures became visible, agreements were expanded and sailing schedules adjusted. In June of that year, OCT joined the corridor and the decision was taken to work from one central point and with a central system. The planning department moved to Moerdijk and Modality provided the central WBC system with a very modern interface technology between WBC central and the Modality systems of partner terminals CCT, BTT and OCT.

“When we joined forces, reliability increased and our services were improved. In addition, the performance of our vessels was better."

Higher reliability, better performance
Combining the volumes of CCT, BTT and OCT allows us to sail dedicated routes between the sea terminals and the hinterland terminals. The first effects of the initiative are obvious. The Port Authority reports significant reductions of port-stay times of vessels and clients’ reactions are also mainly positive. Peter: “When we joined forces, reliability increased and our services were improved. We also see improved performances of our vessels. We measure the capacity utilisation, the handling time at the terminals and we make sure that everyone keeps to the agreements that were made. In the short term we are still seeing an increase in the cost price. We see this increase as an investment in the service and reliability of our services. In the long term, high reliability will contribute to higher volumes and a decrease in cost price".

Including Alpherium
Recently the terminal in Alphen aan den Rijn, better known as the Alpherium, has joined the network. The limited draught on the Moerdijk - Alphen aan den Rijn route means that only smaller vessels (and therefore smaller volumes) can be used. By transshipping the containers at the Moerdijk Hub, the Alpherium benefits from combined volumes and experiences less congestion in the port of Rotterdam. In addition, in collaboration with Heineken, a project is now underway to fill the empty export containers with empty beer bottles that are taken to the factory in Zoeterwoude. The glass factory that produces the beer bottles is located next to the terminal in Moerdijk. By filling the empty export containers from Rotterdam with empty bottles in Moerdijk, the road kilometres between the Heineken factory in Zoeterwoude and the glass factory in Moerdijk are limited to the Alphen - Zoeterwoude route. As about seven trucks drive up and down every day, the shortening of the route means a considerable CO2 reduction and less empty transport.

CCT Alpherium

“Sometimes you have to step over your own shadow and get round the table with your competitor."

The secret behind the success
Not all partnership projects are as successful as the West-Brabant Corridor. When we ask Peter about the secret behind the success, he says: "Trust is important. Sometimes you have to step over your own shadow and get round the table with your competitor. The client's interest should outweigh the interest of the competitor. You have to be open to working with your competitor. At the moment, we are the only corridor that has entered into a partnership with joint planning in a joint system. This level of cooperation will lead to maximum efficiency to get the most out of the partnership.

Next steps
The next step in optimizing barge services will be the automation of planning. Planning containers on the most efficient lighter is still a manual job. In addition, CCT Moerdijk wants to further develop in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Further automation will support and simplify work processes as much as possible. Also, a renovation of the quay is planned and the rail terminal will be extended from two to three tracks to comply with the new train length guidelines.

Would you like to know more about the automation and technology that contributed to the success of this collaboration? Please, contact us and we like to give you an inside view.

CTVrede first inland terminal with web-based outdoor operations
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:

  1. A scalable business model
  2. Flexible market anticipation
  3. 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.”

Long-term relationships
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
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.

Innovations Inland Terminals

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.

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