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Apr.3, 2017

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INTERNATIONAL MARITIME IMPORTING | EXPORTING | PORTS | CARRIERS | BREAKBULK | GLOBAL LOGISTICS 18 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE APRIL 3.2017 By Hugh M. Morley THE PANAMA CANAL Authority is developing a computerized scheduling and resource management system that it says will help double the number of big ships that can travel through the canal each day, giving it a competitive edge against the Suez Canal. The first phase of the system, commis- sioned late last year, will be up and running by September, with two more phases to be completed by the end of 2018. The system will be located in the canal's Marine Traffic Control Center and is designed to automate, schedule, and plan all of the moving parts that help a ship move through the canal, including tugs, pilots, deck crew, and locks, said Arnoldo Cano, program manager for the ACP renewal pro- cesses and core systems. The system will help increase the num- ber of New Panamax ships that can pass through the canal from an average of five a day now, to about 12, Cano said. "It will not singlehandedly double the number of New Panamax ships," he said. "Achieving this throughput will require the right mix of personnel and equipment, in the right place and the right time, and the new system will allow us to orchestrate and optimize the whole operation to achieve this." The system also will help to "signifi- cantly lower" the time that ships arriving at the entrance to the canal without an advance reservation have to wait to get through, said Cano, adding that the authority does not yet know exactly much the waiting time will be reduced. In February, the average waiting time for such a ship was about 40 hours, he said. On average, between 28 and 41 ships of all sizes have passed through the canal daily since the new locks opened last June. Passage from one end to the other has taken about 11 to 13 hours, excluding waiting time at the start. Any reduction in time, or increase in passage availability, could help the canal compete for business from Asia with the Suez Canal. For example, a Maersk Line service from Chiwan, China, to the Port of New York and New Jersey through the Panama Canal takes 32 days, compared with 30 days through the Suez Canal. "More and more, as the world becomes 'just-in-time,' and more driven by tight schedules and routine routes and services from the shipping industry, the value propo- sition and the actual competitiveness of the canal is based on its ability to be reliable and minimize disruption to our transportation customers, and minimize things like waiting times and delays," Cano said. The announcement comes nine months after the canal opened its new set of locks that cost $5.4 billion and took nine years to finish, tripling the size of ships the canal can accommodate to 14,000 20-foot-equivalent units from the 4,500 to 5,000 TEUs of a tra- ditional Panamax vessel. At 60 percent of its capacity, the canal is at a "much higher utilization level than we thought we would be less than two years after the inauguration of the new sets of locks," Cano said. More large ships are expected to come to the US East Coast through the Panama Canal after the raising of the Bayonne Bridge at the Port of New York and New Jersey is completed later this year. Ships larger than 10,000 TEUs currently can only stop at one of the port's four main terminals, because to get to the other three terminals, ships must pass under the Bayonne Bridge. "That is a factor," Cano said. "You are constrained by the weakest link, so to speak. Definitely we are counting on that to start gradually hap- pening. But it requires all the components in the logistics plane to be at the same level." In the past, the scheduling and manage- ment of ships through the Panama Canal has been carried out in a series of smaller systems, each focusing on a particular part of the chain. They didn't communicate with each other, he said. The new system will integrate all parts into a single, computer- ized process, Cano said. The improved efficiency will help the authority make better use of the canal, increasing the number of ships that can go through and dependability for shippers and carriers, he said. The authority last year contracted Quintiq, a Dutch company owned by Dassault Systemes that is a global supplier of supply chain planning and optimization software. Its website says its customers include DB Schenker, DHL Express, the Eurotunnel train link between England and France, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, and YRC Freight. The decision to invest in a centralized, computer-driven management system was prompted by the complexity that comes with handling larger ships, Cano said. JOC Contact Hugh R. Morley at and follow him on Twitter: @HughRMorley _JOC. DOUBLING DOWN ON BIG SHIPS A new technology system will help the Panama Canal coordinate and expedite transits of mega-ships

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