'Intelligent Autogates' go live

Three weeks ago, the Port of Liverpool went live with a new terminal operating platform – Navis N4 and APS AutoGate. It marks a major milestone in our multi-million investment programme to transform the port into Europe’s first semi-automated container terminal.

We have now moved to the automation of a number of significant internal and external customer business processes, using state-of-the-art identification technologies to manage gate operations. This involves all containers and trucks now being automatically identified before entering or exiting the terminal.

Haulier transactions are now fully integrated into the N4 system, which means more secure and efficient visits and minimal turnaround times. This process means that paperwork and leaving the vehicle are unnecessary, so increasing security, improving safety, reducing risks and saving time spent completing manual checks.

The introduction of AutoGates and the new Navis N4 TOS is a very important step for us in making a difference to our customers, enhancing their experience using the port and supporting faster haulier turnaround and container handling.

A change of this magnitude is not without its challenges and complexities but we took the bold move to combine both initiatives into a single combined switchover.  Although this decision came with added risks, we have managed to deliver this significant upgrade to our capabilities, thanks to the planning and hard work of the whole team.

20 days on, we have ironed out early teething problems and our processes are now more predictable, and reliable. Shipping lines have continued to support the changes and are now readily adopting and using the functionality of the new process. Haulier data accuracy performance levels (ID cards, appointments, PIN numbers and seal numbers) now exceed 92%.

Customer service remains our priority and the team is working tirelessly to optimise terminal performance. We are committed to further enhancing performance, and in the next few weeks we will be implementing a step change activity programme which will deliver additional improvements such as:

  • Within the Vehicle booking system (VBS), allocating time slots for hauliers and relieving peak time pressures at the terminal
  • Deploying a further 5 new straddle carriers to further improve turnaround times and terminal capacity. Both targeted for delivery in August 2015.

We now plan to build on our achievements and will continue to work collaboratively with our customers to deliver a vastly improved customer experience in the lead up to the opening of Liverpool2.

Performance improvements

Typically less than 30 minutes for 65% of vehicles and less than 60 minutes for 95% of all haulage transactions kiosk to kiosk.

How the system works

  • Before coming on site the haulier registers their lorry consignment details on a simple and streamlined online system.
  • On entering the port the system will scan a lorry, capturing all details (container number, container size type, hazard placards, bolt seals, container damage) automatically through optical character recognition. It will also scan the licence plate and take a photo of the driver.
  • The driver proceeds to a kiosk, scans their biometric ID card (this is linked to the online account used to register the consignment) and answers a few simple questions on a touch screen monitor.
  • On entering the terminal, the system will direct the driver and inform the Straddle Carrier that unloading/loading will take place.

The AutoGate equipment has been supplied and installed by Kalmar and its partners, APS Technology Group, who provided the OCR technology.

David Huck
Port Director Mersey Cluster


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