FILE : NEW TECHNOLOGIES
a single window at the port of valencia
Daily management of a port depends on the exchange of information, which is occurring more and more often through a single window, or Port Community System (PCS). In this case, the Port of Valencia, commercially known as Valenciaport, has a PCS that contributed to the port being named “best in class port cluster” by Global Institute of Logistics. The Port of Montreal, founder and partner of the Metropolitan Montreal Logistics and Transportation Cluster, was interested in the Spanish port’s experience. One of the cluster’s priorities is to identify best practices and technologies, then promote their implementation. Among them, the issue of a common platform.
Port of Valencia. Photo: ValenciaPort
When a ship reports in to Port of Valencia authorities, the same electronic document is used to indicate her presence with marine authorities, the Coast Guard, Immigration authorities and other monitoring bodies. It’s simple, instant and paperless!
All this information exchange takes place in the same electronic window of the Port Community System. Similarly, dangerous goods declarations are shared by the appropriate government agencies. The port authority and customs can also monitor cargo handling information through the PCS dating back to the carrier’s last trip to the terminal. This reduces the risk of errors and time spent filling out different forms. It also saves tons of paper. Terminal operators can verify at a glance on the PCS whether or not containers to be loaded or unloaded have received authorization from customs and the port authority.
Jose Manuel Garcia de la Guia, Director - Port Community System of Autoridad Portuaria de Valencia
“All this considerably boosts our operational efficiency,” said Jose Manuel Garcia de la Guia, director of information technology at the Valencia Port Authority. More than 400 organizations exchange information through the Port of Valencia’s single window.
The PCS has tangible impact: since customs police receive the list of goods at the same time as terminal operators, the list is automatically cross-checked against the authorizations from customs declarations through a link with Spanish Custom’s central system, all without paper. As a result, it only takes three minutes to check a list of 5,000 movements, compared to four hours before the PCS was implemented.
Another improvement: since the information on the cargo reaches the terminal before the trucks, truck wait time at the gate has dropped from five minutes to 35 seconds. At the Valencia Maritime Terminal (1.4 million TEUs), four gates now manage a higher traffic flow than ten gates could before.
« Port spirit »
The technical and security aspects of implementing a new technology don’t scare anybody anymore. “The hardest thing to overcome is the fear of change,” said Jose Manuel Garcia de la Guia. “We’re talking about organizations that have been working the same way for decades. But in the Internet era, people end up understanding the need for change and the implementation of new technologies to increase operational efficiency.”
Another challenge arose during implementation of the PCS: how to create a spirit of cooperation among the different partners involved in the project. “We had to convince people that it’s in their interest to work together; everyone must be open to cooperating with their competitors, their clients, their clients’ competitors, their suppliers… Cooperation is mission-critical.
We have to create “port spirit” so that the group is more powerful than the sum of its members,” said the director of information technologies.
Implementing a port community system is the third step in Valenciaport’s information technologies strategic development plan. The fourth phase involves extending its information sharing network internationally.
In other news
Valenciaport has developed its own single window model, but there are systems on the market that can be adapted to a port’s particular features. The European Port Community Systems Association (EPCSA) was formed in June 2011. This lobbying association, made up of European operators of electronic platforms, has six founding members: Dakosy (Hamburg, Germany) dbh (Bremen, Germany), Maritime Cargo Processing (Felixstow, United Kingdom), Portbase (Rotterdam, Netherlands), Portic (Barcelona, Spain) and SOGET (Le Havre, France).
SOGET, which initiated the association, has already installed a PCS in a dozen French ports. Based in Le Havre – with 120 employees and 12 million Euros in sales – the company has just landed its largest contract to date, with the Indonesian Port Authority. The mandate is to equip the container terminal in Jakarta, then all 111 commercial ports in the archipelago. These additional operations cover 12 million containers and a billion tonnes of cargo. SOGET will honour this contract with Microsoft, which it chose as its international port partner.
Most major ports in Europe and North America are now equipped with a PCS. This leaves medium-sized ports in North America and Europe, as well as South American ports and several Asian ports.
Valenciaport at a glance
Valenciaport is managed by the state-owned Valencia Port Authority, and actually includes three ports along 80 km of coastline: the ports of Valencia, Sagunto and Gandia. In 2010, they handled 64 million tonnes of cargo and 4.2 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers.