Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Automatic Checks On Refrigerated Shipping Containers By TPT

Refcon System Monitors Temperature Automatically
Shipping News Feature

SOUTH AFRICA - In a first for Sub-Saharan Africa ports, South African port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has implemented the world class Refcon system at its Cape Town terminal to remotely carry out temperature checks on reefer shipping containers. 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.

In common with other South African ports Cape Town employs a Navis 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.

Hector Danisa, TPT’s assistant terminal executive of the Western Province terminals, said:

“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.”

Operators have undergone intensive training on remote monitoring of reefers. Refcon’s remote monitoring server gives operators electronic messages highlighting exceptions. The operator then reports relevant alarms to the shipping lines for rectification. 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.

Future plans currently being considered for Refcon include automatic e-mail and text message alerts to customers and stakeholders. TPT also hopes to extend Refcon to more reefer areas within the terminal. Meanwhile the Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system - which was first installed at Pier 1 in Durban, Port Elizabeth Container Terminal and East London Multipurpose Terminal - has maintained an average of 99% uptime during the six months from April to October 2010. Danisa said the inevitable teething problems, experienced when Navis was first introduced at the terminal, were a thing of the past thanks to training and upgrades to rectify challenges in its stability.

Photo: Hector Danisa, TPT’s Assistant Terminal Executive in Western Province, Dakalo Mboyi, Maersk General Manager Western Province and Nomaphelo Thyaliti, Operations Co-ordinator, Landside checking a Reefer container manually