Gains promised for transport firms, drivers and empty container parks
The dream of a transparent IT-assisted trucking interface with port container parks has come to fruition with the launch of Containerchain’s eGate applications suite, starting in Melbourne.
Eight years after Containerchain was founded to make sense of the city’s chaotic empty container handling function, the applications promise to cast real-time light on the sector’s operations.
“By enabling automated gate processing at empty container depots, eGate reduces costs for transport operators and empty container depots by: improving truck turnaround times; reducing errors; providing visibility to all industry participants,” Containerchain says.
It adds that the benefit for transport firms is that using the app on the Containerchain website allows truck tracking and provides communication between driver and transport company allocator.
Drivers gain information needed to plan and execute pick-up and delivery, warning of any impediments several kilometres from arrival, swift entry and exit and lack of on-ground work bar twist-lock use.
However, empty container park (ECP) rules remain in the ECP’s control.
“The difference is that the app will check that the movement is valid (against the particular depots rules) well before the truck arrives at the depot, and will tell the driver whether the movement can be automatically serviced, and if not why not,” Containerchain says.
ECPs will be able to dispense with gate operations, automate truck arrival processing and planning and reduce human error – for example “the system will determine prior to loading whether a particular container matches a particular shipping line release”.
Five major Melbourne ECPs have announced that they are now “eGate enabled” – Port Melbourne Containers (PMC), Melbourne Reefer Services (MRS), Melbourne Container Park (MCP), Victorian Container Management (VCM) and Containerspace.
Next cab off the rank is likely to be Fremantle, where Qube is testing the technology involving container handling firm ICL and Intermodal group’s ICS Container Park.
It is expected that operations will start in Brisbane and Sydney in due course.
Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) is to facilitate awareness training sessions in Melbourne for drivers and transport operators.
“Just five years on from the ground-breaking implementation of the Containerchain information visibility and truck notification software in Australia, we are about to witness another step-change in functionality and connectivity that will drive further productivity improvements in container transport,” CTAA director Neil Chambers says.
“Automated gate processing should improve truck turnaround times, boost truck arrival information visibility, enhance truck tracking capabilities, and reduce management costs.”
Melbourne training sessions will be held at DECA training in Millers Road, Altona North, from Tuesday-Thursday, October 27-29.
Bookings can be made at www.containerchain.com
How it works
As described, the eGate app for smart phones and tablets is supplied to the industry for free, connecting container truck drivers with ECPs, their own transport operations, and other parts of the container logistics supply chain.
Drivers can download the app onto a smart phone or other smart device.
Trucks have a ‘Notification’ in the Containerchain system for any pick-up or container dehire.
With the E-Gate technology, as the truck “breaks” a geo-fenced area around the designated ECP, the driver will receive either a “Green Lane” advice, meaning that a valid notification is in the system and the truck can proceed through the Depot gate to the designated forklift area (without the need to interact with any operational staff in the Depot).
If there is a problem, the app will display a “Red Lane” message, meaning that the driver will need to consult ECP operational staff on arrival.
The aim is to continue to streamline the visibility of electronic information about truck movements to and from ECPS, and to continue to speed up truck turnaround times.
It will also facilitate more timely information for ECPs about actual anticipated truck arrivals, helping the Depots to better plan their human and machinery resource allocations.
The Driver@containerchain” app, and Live@containerchain product, are a stepped layer of technology advancement above the eGate app.
Driver@containerchain effectively becomes a tool that can be downloaded for free and used by subbies and drivers as a tool to connect with their prime contractors/employers – managing job allocations, run sheet information, and payments, as well as being a fleet tracking device (as it requires the GPS location functionality to be active).
Live@containerchain will give information visibility to freight forwarders, importers and exporters the allocation and management of transport jobs with transport companies, full documentation management, demurrage (detention) tracking, and integration with empty container depot transactions.
In Perth, much work still needs to be done by the industry and Fremantle Ports including bulk runs after hours, this month’s WA Port Operations Task Force report shows.
The initiative is viewed as a “major operational change” and Qube reports more testing and consultation is needed before eGate is rolled out to other operators.
Qube is working with Containerchain on the ability to change the container number in its system, an issue in Fremantle more than in the east.
It lack has led to an inability to block-stack empties on bulk runs to parks.
Qube expects new machinery and improved yard flow will deal with concerns about the amount of time still involved in the process.
The question of whether slot hoarding would increase if on-time arrival was more strictly would have to be addressed leading to more Qube resources needing to be brought to bear.