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Smart Terminal

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Do you operate a smart terminal? What is a smart terminal? I think the definition varies by that terminal’s needs and its customers’ needs versus costs to both. One definition does not fit all. This is talked about, written about and evaluated many times by the industry. This applies to both smart ports and smart terminals. There are many different ports and terminals. One’s cargo/service focus can be different from another’s cargo/service. There are so many reasons why.

This will be only be about a multi-cargo, multi-purpose marine terminal. To me, a smart terminal utilizes the best combination of people, equipment, process and technology to deliver the most efficient service to its varied cargo customers which is scalable, flexible, disaster proof, connected and data driven to enable the most efficient operations and decision management.

Fundamental and necessary to a smart terminal is a terminal operating system (TOS) that provides a single platform that crosses and blends all the processes, equipment, users and information into one repository to best serve terminal management and terminal operations. I like to think of “tools in the toolbox.” The terminal operating system is the toolbox for the smart terminal. The tools inside are the system’s modules to handle each process, mobile apps, monitoring, reporting, levels of automation capability, data, standardization and connectivity.

A terminal has many verticals. They are users, processes, cranes/yard equipment, gate, warehouse, yard, ship load/discharge, tech devices, security, information, authorities, port and customers. Only the TOS crosses over and connects these verticals. The TOS is the ERP for the terminal. Only a properly matched, smart TOS will enable the terminal to effectively and efficiently succeed in its goals and its services to its clients. Four key themes of a TOS must be,

  • electronically capture and record terminal events/activities
  • understand the status of the terminal’s operations at any given time
  • ensure that the right people have access to the right information at the right time
  • forecast and model the impact of future business change

If a terminal does not have a TOS, it is using pencil and paper. I think of the cost of quality and all the hard and soft costs associated to this situation. The total cost of quality is huge. Far, far, far greater than any cost of a properly matched TOS.

The same cost of quality can be applied to a terminal who has a legacy system, end of life system or only implemented a system to support one specific process because that is all the terminal wanted to spend to respond to one executive’s directive or one customer’s requirement.

So, I read a lot of consultants who talk of automation, artificial intelligence, digitization, blockchain, transparency and “bleeding edge” technology. Does your terminal and its clients need all that? Is that what your clients are asking for on a weekly/monthly basis?

A smart terminal is the terminal that has the matched toolbox and tools that all its clients need and will be able to adapt/change/grow for its clients and add clients.

The terminal knows that better than anyone. That, is a smart terminal.

By Jay Kronberg (Head Sales Americas)

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