Ports have a central role to play in managing the flow of goods

13. Sep 2019 | Port Community Systems, Port management

Only state-of-the-art software tools can handle the flow of goods in the seaport and in the hinterland hubs. The speakers and 60 trade visitors of the theme evening “The Port of Today” of the ShortSeaShipping Inland Waterway Promotion Center (spc) agreed on this on 12 September in the level bar at the port of Neuss. The spc member dbh Logistics IT AG as well as its partners RBS EMEA UG and akquinet port consulting GmbH gave an overview of current solutions that enable a fast and resource-saving handling of cargo volumes.

15th spc theme evening on 12 September on the topic of digitalisation

60 participants from the port and logistics industry accepted the invitation of spc and dbh to Neuss for the 15th theme evening under the motto “The port of today” in order to find out exclusively about the possibilities and perspectives of digitalization in ports. “The demands placed on sea and inland ports, which are no longer a mere transshipment point but offer value-added services, are constantly increasing: digitalisation, security in ports and ever-increasing ships – these are defining issues,” says spc Managing Director Markus Nölke. “The better and more modern a port is, the greater the likelihood that it will be used and that cargo flows will be channelled by ship and rail. This increasingly includes digital connectivity. This also applies to inland ports, whose interface function depends on communication and handling at the same time,” explains Nölke in his welcome.

Handling companies, customs, freight forwarders and numerous service providers are involved in the flow of goods in the seaport itself. Andreas Grunwald, site manager Wilhelmshaven from dbh Logistics IT AG, showed how the port community system PCS provides dbh as a communication platform with tailor-made information to all actors – with high data security and compliance with data protection. “Parallel to the handling of goods, our platform takes over the data handling,” says Grunwald, who still remembers the time of communication with messengers, which was common in the ports in the 1980s. Since the beginnings of the company dbh in 1973, the range of services has grown steadily with the technical possibilities and requirements of the customers. Today’s PCS can be flexibly adapted to the requirements of the respective users with different modules. Customers in the hinterland are already using this to communicate with their partners in the seaport. The application runs in the dbh data center and is billed according to a transaction model.

Norbert Klettner, Managing Director of RBS EMEA UG, outlined the challenges that a Terminal Operations System (TOS) has to solve – in addition to the core competence “Representation of the handling process”. On the one hand, a large number of market participants in

On the other hand, more and more data sources and interfaces are integrated, such as the number, position and condition of the handling equipment, documentation of the containers with cargo and possible damage and customs. “Logistics is becoming more and more automated and transparent,” says Klettner. “Partners, customers and authorities want to be informed.” This is where classic enterprise software comes to its limits.

“Thanks to our cloud solution, implementation is much easier and ready in a few weeks. The settlement is made by TEU,” says Norbert Klettner. “I can manage an entire terminal with a laptop and a browser.”

The data in the cloud can also bring benefits to freight forwarders, explained Timo Köhler from dbh. In the so-called pre-announcement, the software calculates the time and location of the container and generates a code for the trucker and the terminal staff. “With the code, the driver can register at a self-service terminal in the aforementioned time window at the gate and is called directly the loading point. In the terminal, on the other hand, thanks to the code, the employees know which container they put on the truck.” To ensure that the software in the port also knows which containers and vehicles are actually on site and what the condition is, the terminal can be equipped with video gates. They document the vehicle and cargo in high-resolution images – even in the event of customer inquiries when a container is damaged – and feed the automatically detected data with license plates, container identification and the various signs on the container into the TOS.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Schütt from akquinet port consulting GmbH showed how simulations and visualizations make the enormous amounts of data for humans comprehensible. “The Videogate turns images into data, we turn data into images. Because people think in pictures,” he said. In precisely reconstructed virtual ports and terminals, akquinet plays through the way in which various adjusting screws affect the traffic and the performance of the ports. The thousands of adjusting screws cannot be turned during operation. “Even in the pre-planning phase of ports, we can virtually put them into operation and simulate their processes to prevent congestion and congestion later on,” he said.

But the simulation is also helpful in operation: “We offer training courses for terminal planners who can go through shifts in the training center in which they try out new tactics,” he gives an example. At the terminal itself, yard planners can also use a real-time, accurate 3D model of the terminal. Here, the containers can be colored according to various criteria, so that for example all empty containers or containers for the next departure are colored. “This will make the terminal transparent to planners,” he said. “This allows planners to optimally prepare the terminal for the next moves and shifts.”

The final round of questions showed the high level of interest of inland ports in networking with seaports. The pressure for networking often comes from the seaship owners and the bargemen still felt lost at the seaship terminal, says Timo Köhler from dbh, which is driving the networking of the sea and inland terminals and the ships in the IHATEC project Binntelligent. The inland waterway vessel has another argument for the precise planning of the arrival of the containers in the inland ports in order to act as a reliable transport partner and to divert traffic from the roads. Similarly, real-time traffic data could help reduce congestion in seaports. With realistic simulations of the impact of the new high-volume maritime transport, the participants saw a potential to manage the quantities more organized and to appear with factual arguments against the shipowners. Precisely in order to be able to support and advise with their experience, the spc member dbh Logistics IT AG has founded a new consulting company with dbh consulting GmbH.

“Digitalisation offers a great opportunity for the transport mode of waterways, because the rapid availability of reliable data and information is increasingly more crucial than the pure duration of physical transport. The evening showed that the necessary tools and projects already exist,” spc Managing Director Markus Nölke sums up in his conclusion.

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