Maritime Employers Association introduces new technologies

Close to 40 % of longshoremen working in the Port of Montreal are now using web and mobile technologies to receive their daily assignments.

Manon Gervais, director of the M.E.A.'s information technologies
and communications services and dispatch center

“This is just one of the many enhancements that the Maritime Employers Association (M.E.A.) is making in the field of new technologies,” said Manon Gervais, director of the M.E.A.’s information technologies and communications services and dispatch centre.

The development of web and mobile applications gives employees more flexibility when taking on their work assignments. They no longer have to phone in or drive to the hiring hall in the Port of Montreal to receive their daily assignments. Moreover, additional assignments are now broadcast as early as 2 a.m., compared to 5 a.m. previously.

The M.E.A. is responsible for the daily dispatch of employees involved in longshoring operations in the Port of Montreal. The technological improvements are part of the M.E.A.’s biggest overhaul of its dispatch programs in 40 years.

Developed in-house

The computerized system used by the M.E.A. to manage port manpower consists primarily of applications developed in-house, therefore its maintenance and updates relied mainly on the knowledge of developers working for the M.E.A. 

Last summer, the M.E.A.’s information technology team analyzed a commercial schedule planning software developed by Kronos, a firm that specializes in automated workforce management systems. Working with Kronos engineers, the M.E.A. studied the feasibility of integrating each of the characteristics of the Port of Montreal’s longshoremen and checkers collective agreements scheduling rules within a completely new automated program.


The study’s positive results allowed the M.E.A. to consider starting a migration project for the complete automation of port manpower management. Subsequently, the M.E.A. purchased a series of licences from Kronos, and since February started to work on the implementation of the new manpower management system solution. This modern human resources information system will provide greater flexibility and reliability in the planning of daily dispatch, allowing terminal operators to more efficiently manage and order their daily manpower.

The legacy system that dispatches the daily workforce, plans work schedules, distributes assignments and enters payroll data has been reprogrammed in order to conform to the new work schedules that have been in effect since last September. The adjustment also applies to the new web and mobile applications and to interactive kiosks and information screens that the M.E.A. installed in April 2013 in each terminal operator’s rest area and at the hiring hall, which is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With the kiosks, longshoremen no longer have to travel back and forth between terminals in order to register their availability for additional work and to receive their assignments.