Saturday , 25 May 2019
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South African port operator, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement warning customers of possible problems as it gears up for the biggest test in its nationwide roll-out of the Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system (TOS) to be introduced at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT): Pier 2 next month (March).

Tempting fate!

In preparation for the switch-over from the old COSMOS system and following the final vessel discharging and loading at DCT: Pier 2 on Friday 25 March, all TPT-operated terminals in Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, Cape Town and Durban will cease operation at 18.00 the following day.

In its statement, TPT said, ‘DCT is one of the biggest and busiest container terminals in the Southern Hemisphere. Teething problems and delays around the changeover are a real possibility for which the port operator must be fully prepared’.

The computerised web-based Navis operating system will govern the movement of all container logistics and operations in the terminal from gate-to-yard-to-vessel and if all goes smoothly, all the facilities will resume operations at 06.00 on Sunday 27 March.

At the same time the terminal will be introducing a R15m (US$2m) automated truck gate and multi-lane drive through system, the same as that installed at the neighbouring DCT: Pier 1 in 2008.

Supported by a computerised operating system, access card scanner, security cameras with optical character recognition (OCR) and Navis integration, the auto-gate should bring faster truck and cargo turnaround, without the need for truckers to leave their vehicles to complete paperwork.

The company says that it has already engaged with customers to ensure they are aware of the changes and the likely impact on port operations across the country.

“Obviously DCT will be an entirely different ball game because of the size and significance of the terminal. We have learnt valuable lessons since Navis was introduced at other terminals,” said business terminal executive, Moshe Motlohi.

“The main thing is that we have contingency plans in place but require the understanding and cooperation of our customers and all our stakeholders in ensuring a smooth changeover. We assure everybody that the benefits will be worth enduring any teething problems, but we will minimise these as far as possible,” he said.

In 2009 Transnet became the first operator worldwide to manage a Navis multi-site system, set-up across seven marine and 14 rail terminals from a central server location at its head office. It has been in operation at the neighbouring DCT: Pier 1 since it opened in May 2007 and also at the East London and Port Elizabeth terminals.

Mark Wootton, executive manager of ICT Capital Projects and Technology at TPT, said, “Our progress has been watched with keen interest by global port authorities. This latest version of Navis is currently used by just over 10 ports worldwide including those in New Zealand and Australia. Although Navis offers this multi-site, single-server functionality, South Africa is the first to take advantage of this feature. This is something we can be very proud of.”

The Navis system is designed to allow better integration between the port operations of TPT and the rail operations of its sister company, Transnet Freight Rail. This will be in line with Transnet’s focus on corridors or routes of port-rail integration to improve the service offered to customers.

Wootton explained that the system also allows inter-terminal integration and synchronised planning, so if a vessel is scheduled to call at several terminals across the country every link in the chain can now track its progress and plan efficiently.