Temporary port terminal shutdowns as new system introduced

South African port operator Transnet Port Terminals is gearing up for the biggest test in its nationwide rollout of the Navis™ SPARCS N4 terminal operating system when the system is introduced at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT): Pier 2 on Sunday, 27 March, along with a new automated entry gate system for trucks.

On Friday 25 March the final vessel discharging and loading using the old COSMOS system will take place at DCT: Pier 2. On Saturday 26 March at 06h00 operations will stop at the terminal.

All TPT-operated terminals in Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, Cape Town and Durban will then cease operation from 18h00 on Saturday 26 March to resume operations at 06h00 on Sunday 27 March if all goes smoothly.

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The computerised, web-based Navis operating system governs the movement of all container logistics and operations in the terminal from gate to yard to vessel.

DCT is one of the biggest and busiest container terminals in the Southern Hemisphere. Teething problems and delays around the changeover are a real possibility for which the port operator must be fully prepared.

The terminal would also be introducing the same R15 million automated gate system and multi-lane drive through that has been in place at the neighbouring DCT: Pier 1 since 2008.

Supported by a computerised operating system, access card scanner, security cameras with optical character recognition (OCR) and Navis integration, the auto gate should bring faster truck and cargo turnaround, reduced costs, decreased traffic, more accurate data, damage inspection at check-in point, effective track-and-trace, increased security, and improved health and safety for truckers and employees who no longer need to exit their vehicles to complete paperwork.

DCT: Pier 2 business terminal executive Moshe Motlohi said the company had already engaged with customers in the shipping and trucking communities to ensure they were aware of the changes and the likely impact on port operations across the country.

“Obviously DCT will be an entirely different ball game because of the size and significance of the terminal. We have learnt valuable lessons since Navis was introduced at other terminals,” he said.

“The main thing is that we have contingency plans in place but require the understanding and cooperation of our customers and all our stakeholders in ensuring a smooth changeover. We assure everybody that the benefits will be worth enduring any teething problems, but we will minimise these as far as possible,” said Motlohi.

Internal user training started at DCT: Pier 2 in November 2010.

In 2009 Transnet became the first operator worldwide to manage a multi-site set up of the Navis system from a central server location at its head office across up to seven marine and 14 rail terminals. It is currently in operation at the neighbouring DCT: Pier 1 since it opened in May 2007 and also at the East London and Port Elizabeth port terminals.

Mark Wootton, Executive Manager of ICT Capital Projects and Technology at Transnet Port Terminals, said, “Our progress has been watched with keen interest by global port authorities like Dubai Port World. This latest version of NAVIS is currently used by just over 10 ports worldwide including those in New Zealand and Australia. Although NAVIS offers this multi-site, single-server functionality, South Africa is the first to take advantage of this feature. This is something we can be very proud of.”

The benefits of Navis include paperless operations, real-time tracking of cargo, a single point-of-entry for both port and rail customers, reduced costly errors, greater control and visibility of cargo movements for customers, improved customer support, lower operating costs, increased stacking yard capacity, advanced reporting features and enhanced, instant communication with TPT via web-based electronic data interchange.

Wootton said the system would allow better integration between the port operations of TPT and the rail operations of sister company, Transnet Freight Rail. This will be in line with Transnet’s focus on corridors or routes of port-rail integration to improve the service offered to customers.

“Navis also allows inter-terminal integration and synchronised planning, so if a vessel is scheduled to call at several terminals across the country every link in the chain can now track its progress and plan efficiently,” he added.

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