Optimised ship loading at Marine Terminal Immingham, UK



Jasmin Phipps, IT & logistics journalist


Associated Petroleum Terminals (APT) optimises planning, loading, inventory management and administration with OpenTAS

The challenge of IT systems is that they need to be integrated to be most efficient. APT decided to face this challenge. In 2010 APT was looking for a new integrated IT solution to replace the current system as it could no longer meet the requirements. APT has chosen Implico's terminal management and terminal automation system OpenTAS to provide this one-point solution that fulfils all the needs in terms of planning, loading, inventory management and administration of the terminals.

APT is a joint venture of Phillips 66 and Total located in Immingham, UK on the North Sea coast. The two companies each have a refinery in the area and share terminals to manage their loading and shipping operations. They have 33 different petroleum products and they transport them via sea freight. At four main berths for deep sea vessels and five smaller berths, APT is running a 24/7 operation to load 20 million tonnes per year. APT has 57 employees that work in three shifts.

APT opts for OpenTAS to replace outdated IT system

In 2010 APT decided that it was time to substitute its aging IT system with a more efficient integrated solution that could fulfil all its requirements. APT had an IBM business system in place, but it was reaching the end of its lifespan. It was hard to make changes to the system so APT started to use spreadsheets to record certain data. These spreadsheets needed to be updated manually and the information wouldn't feed back into the business system. Support and maintenance of the IBM system started to be a challenge as well.

OpenTAS was selected as it is able to integrate all software programs and spread sheets in use at APT. It automates all the processes at the facility in terms of loading and unloading the ships' cargo including the planning, inventory management and administration. In addition OpenTAS integrates seamlessly with SAP. Both Total and Phillips 66 were already using OpenTAS at various sites and this was a key factor in the decision to use the proven system OpenTAS at APT as well.

OpenTAS is implemented to integrate and automate all business processes at APT

Implico began with the implementation of OpenTAS in February 2011. The first step was to look at the business processes at APT to be able to create an in-depth gap analysis. The gap analysis would define what requirements APT had for the OpenTAS system. Based on the outcomes, Implico built a project plan that would be the guideline for the integration and automation of all processes in place. After 13 months OpenTAS was launched on March 1st, 2012.

Key benefits of the OpenTAS system

The advantages of the OpenTAS system include the improvement of the scheduling processes for berth occupancies to determine which berth is used by which vessel at what time. OpenTAS can automatically receive and upload plans from Total and Phillips 66 so that APT can forecast vessels a month in advance. Being able to plan so far ahead is crucial for the business. OpenTAS provides the necessary automation to keep the planning up to date at all times. APT could have contracts without specifying a certain vessel yet. They just know the approximate size of the vessel, the loading time and the product type. Over time the missing information would be filled in. APT used to manually enter the data into the scheduling system Seaberth but this is no longer necessary. OpenTAS is able to send the updated specifications automatically to the scheduling system Seaberth seamlessly through an interface. Seaberth then defines which berth can be used for loading and the user has the possibility to refine the planning further – for example the vessel would be scheduled for loading at berth six. The user can now decide to use tank 105 making the planning process more precise.

Another key benefit is the integration of OpenTAS and the existing AllenBradley SCADA system. APT sends orders to the AllenBradley system and receives the loading results back. APT would need to make hourly tank dips and hand-write the results which would then be brought to the accounts department. This is no longer necessary. OpenTAS automatically receives and stores the information, instantly providing a real time inventory of the tanks current holdings. The net gain is that inventory management is improved while also ensuring that products are always available in the right quantities when they are due to be loaded.


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