The complexities in balancing the productivity of a terminal operation, in relation to the level of service required by its customers and the cost efficiencies required to stay competitive, demand a high level of decision support. Borrowing some capability from the airline and rail planning businesses can turn out to be a strong move. And when a global economic slowdown starts to affect volumes of goods being shipped, it becomes all the more important to use this technology to continue to deliver a high quality of service, yet run a terminal in the most efficient way possible.
A critical Nordic port chose innovation
The Port of Göteborg is the largest sea terminal in the Nordic region, handling a container throughput in excess of 860,000 TEU, 23 million tonnes of oil, and 272,000 new cars annually. The RO/RO terminal, handling 700,000 units annually, includes ca. 300 stevedores in its payroll. Among the factors governing the port’s success is the ability to deliver its operation according to the levels of service contracted with its customers at a competitive price, while at the same time maintaining employee satisfaction.
Lena Holmsten, Vice President at the RO/RO Terminal, needed a way to prevent personnel costs from growing in proportion to her operation. “With our operation dependent on staff who possess a wide range of machinery and vehicle qualifications, the need to model complex labour rules governing work duties, and our need to respond to last-minute changes quickly, , we needed a vendor who was used to handling this kind of decision speed and complexity”, she said. “We chose Jeppesen as they already possessed strong experience in handling complex planning solutions for airline and rail clients. Whether in a period of growth, or in a situation such as the current world economic slowdown, it is important that we can run our business as flexibly and efficiently as possible”.
In 2006, Jeppesen began developing the solution that would assist planners to optimally allocate stevedores and their equipment to the ships on call. The resulting system, REKO, was put into production trials at the end of 2007, ca. 18 months after initial design was started. After several months of fine-tuning the planning functions and enhancing performance, final acceptance was given at the start of 2009.
Creating speed and flexibility to match changes in customer demand
The REKO system is now the critical nerve centre for staffing the RO/RO terminal operation. “Information for all personnel resources, competencies, duty qualifications, overtime bids, as well as their work rotations, are now modelled and handled in REKO”, says Hanna Bergvall, Operation Planner at the Port of Göteborg
and one of the project staff responsible for specifying system requirements to Jeppesen. “Personnel availability is combined with machine resources at hand, and matched with the timetables for ship calls and terminal services work”. Ease of use, plus gainingan overview of a resource situation quickly and accurately, are
critical factors for acceptance of a new planning system, and Hanna Bergvall is happy with the result: “REKO gives planners a birds-eye view of our operation, and they can get an immediate understanding of the total resource picture. The Gantt views are particularly powerful, allowing us to quickly see where resources are needed and what can be allocated in an effective yet less costly way. One key advantage with the system is to be able to receive immediate feedback regarding the legality of staff allocations – that people with the right qualifications are allocated to the right tasks, yet ensure that we are not violating legal or union rules, such as those that govern mandatory rest periods between shifts. The ways in which the schedules are displayed, plus the legality checks, create ease of use that we have not found in any other planning software”.