Terminal operating system selection



Thomas Ward, PE, chief engineer, Ports America, Alameda, California, USA


The terminal operating system (TOS) is the primary instrument of record-keeping, planning, control, and monitoring for the modern marine terminal. The TOS serves, and is served by, labour, planners, supervisors, managers, liners, truckers, railroads, visitors, regulators, and analysts. The selection of a TOS will have profound impacts on both the tactical performance and strategic viability of the terminal, its customers, and its operator.

Discover Navis’ solutions for ports and terminals by visiting their AIS portal


Any TOS rests on three foundations: infrastructure, database, and development platform. The essential qualities of any foundations are durability and stability, as replacing them is not feasible. We must recognise that the TOS is mission-critical, and that its missions will evolve over time. As such, all three foundations must be judged on: stability, high availability, performance, scalability, security, redundancy, effective vendor support, ease of service, precision, accuracy, extensibility, ease of integration, ease of customisation, and the ready availability of professionals who can maintain and improve them. The foundations must be highly resistant to failure. Failures must be open to rapid repair. The foundations must be designed to accommodate change, growth and evolution without pain or disruption. The foundations must both reflect and foster mature and sophisticated quality control.

Business complexity

The marine terminal is the meeting place of an incredible array of competing and cooperating entities, almost none of them in the direct control of the entity that owns the TOS. The TOS must serve many different user needs, and the way in which it serves each need must be sensitive to the tensions between cooperation, competition, transparency, and privacy. Each interface must be customised to reflect the strengths

Related Stories 

Octopi by Navis, experts in TOS technology, and Cargotec Corporation have recently announced that Worldwide Terminals Fernandina, which operates the Port of Fernandina in Northeastern Florida, has agreed to implement Octopi’s software-as-a-service Terminal Operating System (TOS).

Cookie Policy. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.