Improving operations while simplifying regulatory compliance reporting



Jason Tieman, director of maritime operations, PortVision, Houston, Texas, United States


Efficiency, cost control, and enhanced visibility are more important than ever in today’s increasingly complex terminal environment. At the same time, marine terminal operators must function in a challenging regulatory climate and support new and more rigorous expectations for industry best practices. There are two key requirements for meeting these objectives. The first is to have instant access to vessel information, including both current and historical locations and events. The second is that this information be more than simply ‘points on a map’ so that operators can use the data for business intelligence and analysis, and to improve operational efficiency, decision-making and reporting.

Today’s enterprise-class terminal management offerings make this possible by delivering access to both real-time and historical vessel tracking information, and combining this data with integrated reporting, analysis and dock management tools. These systems can also be used to automate and enhance dock scheduling and activity logging, as well as other key processes and functions, while enabling operators to combine multiple, independent systems into a single, comprehensive and fully integrated solution.

Considering stakeholders’ needs

Integrated marine terminal management systems deliver benefits up and down the chain of command, from the dock operators and supervisors through to senior corporate management. Each stakeholder has specific needs. For instance, at the corporate office, IT teams must ensure system compliance with security and risk mitigation practices. Chartering managers and schedules must connect with traders and identify available vessels while maintaining reliable schedules. Marine technical departments, superintendents and port captains also need the right data with which to investigate incidents and improve safety and security. Furthermore, marine transportation and operations management personnel are challenged with optimising logistics and loss control/prevention, while validating and minimising demurrage claims and streamlining analyses related to the root causes of delays. Meanwhile, dock operators need to know where all vessels are and resolve upcoming conflicts while maintaining an accurate record of dock activities. The business optimisation group needs to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Elsewhere, plant and operational management need to maximise resource availability while managing the budget and ensuring safety.

For optimum efficiency and accuracy, all of these tasks must be integrated into a single comprehensive dashboard that combines vessel tracking capabilities with enterprise-class process automation and analytical tools. Vessel tracking capabilities must extend to each automatic identification system (AIS) enabled vessel in the region of interest, which requires a service that can process tens of millions of daily AIS-based ship location reports and provide access to billions of records about historical arrivals, departures and individual movements. The service should also provide detailed visibility into commercial port arrivals and departures as well as ship movements on the open sea, all in a single display screen.

Streamlining information

In addition to providing vessel information, terminal management systems should also automate scheduling tasks for just-in-time deployment based on a combination of current vessel locations, dock availability and in-transit traffic conditions. This enables terminal operators to streamline vendor and resource management, and incorporate vessel information into their current traffic scheduling dispatch and management practices. For optimal effectiveness, users should be able to define their own customised filters, views and fleets. They should also be able to receive and share e-mail and text message alerts about fleet movements. The system should be able to automatically time stamp and capture data about arrivals (including sea buoy arrivals), departures, and other vessel events, and allow users to add their own documents and information about dockside events for each vessel call.

Task-oriented modules should be available for such specialised functions as dock management, giving organisations the option to replace paper and spreadsheet systems with an endtoend, collaborative job scheduling, activity logging and back-end reporting tool. With this kind of fully integrated solution, users can view and manage vessel activities until dock arrival, and then maintain dock activities, demurrage data, and other information pertinent to the vessel call’s Statement of Fact (SOF) information.

Viewing and managing real-time activities is only half of the puzzle. Equally important is the ability to review historical vessel movements, and incorporate this information directly into the supply chain model. For instance, this makes it possible to perform integrated demurrage reporting and analysis within a single, integrated dashboard environment. Or, the historical data could be used to identify the root cause of costly incidents and property damage.

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