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July 23 2018

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24 The Journal of Commerce | July 23 2018 International Maritime Technology providers seek to resolve operational visibility issues at marine terminals By Eric Johnson THE INFAMOUS SILOS that afflict the management of containerized goods are hardly ever more apparent than at the blurry point where container terminals meet the rest of the world. That's prompted a new generation of technology providers to take aim at that chronic visibility black hole, shining a light on those interfaces where marine terminal operators (MTOs) have inconsistent access to in- formation outside their facilities from drayage operators picking up available containers and dropping laden export boxes. These technologies are also attempting to allow beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and their designated third-party logistics providers and drayage drivers to enhance their cur- rently limited view of what is going on inside the terminal. The enhancements could benefit importers by providing greater visi- bility of their cargo from the vessel discharge process to the out-gate process, and help exporters better gauge the best time to deliver laden containers to terminals. The traditional data divide be- tween terminals and shippers can be partially attributed to the nature of systems that have developed for those parties. Terminal operators tend to invest in terminal operating systems to optimize their operations inside the terminal, and BCOs most often invest in transportation management systems (TMS) to optimize the flow of their goods. Neither of those systems, however, are well equipped to give insight into the other. This is why a new generation of technology providers is aiming to smooth over the rough edges, to allow better collaboration between termi- nals, BCOs, and even ocean carriers. "In my previous role [with a leading terminal operating system provider (TOS)], I led multimillion, multiyear TOS implementation projects within the four walls of the terminal," said Nishant Pillai, vice president of sales in the Americas for the software-as-a-service technol- ogy platform 1-Stop Connections. "Every cargo terminal I worked with, there were two consistent messages: How can I get visibility of cargo beyond the four walls of my terminals, and how can I deploy a solution within weeks, and not months or years, that's in the cloud and not cost prohibitive. "They'd say, 'I'm in a reactive mode. I have assets in my yard, and I'm reacting to when cargo arrives via landside or vessel side operations, which is impacting my productivity.' This is part of every leading port or terminal's digitization roadmap." That reactive mode applies to both export cargo arriving at in-gates, and import cargo arriving by vessel. The in- creasing size of vessels puts additional demands on terminals to accurately predict how much labor to deploy and when to deploy it. Part of the intent of Sydney, Australia-based 1-Stop is to help MTOs manage those outside variables more effectively through their existing ter- minal operating system. The platform is designed to allow ports and terminal operators the ability to control the flow of cargo into their facilities and provide them more visibility about when incoming cargo will arrive, which has a number of knock-on effects, Pillai said. For one, it helps MTOs better plan yard operations, cargo-handling equipment, and properly staff their facilities. That helps reduce the amount of unproductive yard moves and re- handling of containers, which has a direct impact on MTO bottom lines. And the more streamlined terminal operations are, the shorter truck wait times outside and turn times inside the terminal become. Currently, the way a BCO would most likely receive information about its container status in a terminal is via an electronic data interchange (EDI) message in most cases sent by the terminal operator to a steamship line, which sends it to a BCO (or its desig- nated party) through one of a number of software companies that provide visibility to their customers, like INTTRA, GT Nexus, or CargoSmart. For others, there's another layer, with the shipper getting the status message through a web portal that's integrated with the terminal operating system. Pillai said the aim is to streamline that process through application pro- gramming interfaces (APIs) with the terminal, viewable by outside parties through the company's platform. The idea that terminal operating systems are needed to operate a terminal is well understood, "but so much more can be done to improve collaboration and information Illuminating black holes "I'm in a reactive mode. I have assets in my yard, and I'm reacting to when cargo arrives via landside or vessel side operations, which is impacting my productivity." Importing & Exporting | Ports | Carriers | Breakbulk | Global Logistics

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