The system, called Graphical Harbour Disposition and Information System (GHADIS), allows the user to visualise the different harbour processes and can be used to plan and control tasks. It shows an overview of the whole terminal as well as two independent, detailed views with zoom functionality.
Managing ports is a highly complex operation. A variety of data and operations must be handled, from the control of crane movements and parking of lorries to loading freight onto ships. Eureka's Graphical Harbour Disposition and Information System (GHADIS) has been designed to replace, with graphic screens and drag-and-drop functionality, functions currently performed manually.
Food suppliers and manufacturers will be very interested whether this concept can lead to cost cuts. There was a huge squeeze on the supply of shipping containers last year, caused partly by China's insatiable demand for raw materials and higher fule costs, which caused shipping rates to rise 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
"GHADIS is easy to use and saves time by using visual information and intuitive systems rather than tables or written information," said Horst Pahl, managing director of Travemünder Datenverbund (TraDaV), the project's German lead partner.
The system represents the estimated situation in the harbour in the chosen time frame and the user can use the intuitive drag-and-drop interface to simulate the impact of operations. "GHADIS automatically generates messages and instructions, gathers information and spreads knowledge via its intuitive graphic displays," said Pahl.
The system can, for example, create crane orders to co ordinate and manage the loading and unloading of cargo from trains, trucks and ships, allowing for special handling of dangerous and perishable goods.
While TraDav developed the computer system, the Port of Trelleborg acted as both consultant and test facility; the Port of Lübeck was the first client. According to the Port of Lübeck, GHADIS has made communication within the conveyor chain more efficient and reduces transaction costs.
GHADIS has been designed to be easily implemented on almost any existing port computer system and works independently of the operating system and the port's existing database management system. Testing of the new system is now complete and marketing has begun at exhibitions in Gothenburg and throughout Germany.
European R&D network EUREKA also made this development possible. "EUREKA created the partnership with the Port of Trelleborg and helped us to secure national funding," said Pahl.
If effective, the system could revolutionise port management, which would only be good news for food suppliers. Freight rates have continued to climb following the implementation of US implement federal security regulations aimed at thwarting terrorism. Other costs including insurance, fuel, terminal charges and even container prices have also affected the cost of shipping goods.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, rates from US to Asian ports rose by 12 per cent for refrigerated shipments and 11 per cent for dry shipments for the first nine months of last year. This surge in freight rates has pushed some Asian buyers towards cargoes from Australia, a country that is aggressively pricing its offers and exploiting a shipping cost advantage over European and US suppliers.