Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  25 Jan 2011

SHIPPING: Fine-Tuning The Port


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE Port of Cape Town is continuously fine-tuning its operations to improve productivity.

Towards the end of last year, in a first for Sub-Saharan Africa ports, South African port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) implemented the world class Refcon system at the Cape Town terminal to remotely carry out temperature checks on refrigerated shipping containers, known as reefers.

Previously reefers were manually checked by operators at intervals of four hours. In addition, shipping lines carried out their own ‘shadow monitoring’ twice daily. Faults and breakdowns were only identifiable during the monitoring times.

The recent commissioning of Navis, the main operating system which plans and records all container and equipment moves, has been successfully integrated with Refcon. This allows for automatic synchronisation of information between the two systems, which improves operations immensely. Refcon feeds reefer temperature information into Navis at intervals of 30 minutes.

A major benefit of integrating Refcon into the Navis system is that faulty and out-of-protocol reefers can be identified easier and quicker, which reduces the terminal’s risk profile and saves costs. Shipping lines are now able to access Refcon on Navis.

In the event of Refcon or Navis shutting down, a manual procedure has been created to protect the cargo’s integrity.

Reefers that are not Refcon compliant will continue to be monitored manually. However, 80% of the terminal’s customers are already Refcon compliant, and initiatives are being implemented to improve this further. Shipping line Maersk leads with 95% compliance.

In another development Cape Town Terminal implemented its Dual Cycle programme, where containers can be discharged and loaded simultaneously from a vessel using ship-to-shore cranes.

This methodology involves planning the discharging and loading of containers on the same bay of the vessel. So, instead of finishing a discharge across the vessel before doing a load operation, this is done simultaneously.

The challenges associated with Dual Cycle included identifying suitable vessels with an even split of exports and imports and ensuring they are planned properly to facilitate this type of work. In addition, resourcing the terminal appropriately for quicker productivity and smarter planning of the stack could become a challenge.

Dual Cycle was piloted at the Cape Town Terminal in early October last year as a collaborative initiative between TPT and shipping line Maersk.

In one exercise the terminal achieved excellent performance on a vessel by reaching a GCH (container moves per gross crane hour) of 34 GCH and ship working hour (SWH) rate of 82 moves.

This represented a 41% improvement on the terminal’s average GCH of 24. SWH is the number of containers moved by the cranes working on a vessel in one hour, which is a key performance indicator for shipping lines to measure productivity.

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