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Trends in Marine Terminal Automation

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Author(s): John Scott, Vice President, Container Terminal Solutions, Navis, Oakland, CA, US

An unpredictable economy and fluctuating container volumes are two key challenges marine terminal operators continue to navigate, creating new demands for efficiencies. These uncertainties have caused a renewed interest in process and equipment automation technologies as a path to increased efficiency. When deployed and integrated with the terminal operating system, these automation technologies can support and increase terminal capacity, optimize equipment utilization, and improve overall container handling performance in the terminal.

Process automation involves the integration of the TOS with third party hardware solutions that are utilized at the gate, in the yard and at the quay. Various forms of hardware including real time locating systems (RTLS), radio frequency identification (RFID), global positioning satellite (GPS), and ocular character recognition (OCR) can automate the tracking of vehicles and the movement of containers to and from the ships, within the yard, and in and out of the gate, providing real time data streams on asset identity, location and performance. When integrated with the terminal operating system, process automation technologies can improve the visibility of container and truck movements, to optimize asset allocation, automate the delivery of ‘next move’ information to the equipment driver, and ultimately increase the productivity of the terminal.

Since the late 1980s, the marine terminal industry has been supported by a growing range of expert information systems to coordinate and more recently automate the planning and management of container and equipment moves in a complex and demanding business environment.

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Edition 54

PTI Edition 54 • Digital & Print
Our latest edition of PTI offers several viewpoints on how environmentally friendly practices can be adopted at ports and terminals, and the significant financial gains to be had as a consequence. With the financial climate showing no signs of recovery, this edition also offers some smart financing options for ports. As always we have the latest technical developments in container handling, dry and liquid bulk handling as well as an interesting solution to port security- ‘sniffer bees’.