How to improve terminal capacity for barges hinterland transport

Moerdijk
Shell Moerdijk

Challenge: Tank barge handling in ports

As the amount of tank barges handled by ports grows, the performance and capacity of hinterland transportation have become a key component.

When vessels arrive at terminals, they are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. This causes port congestion and multiple ships to have high idle anchor time.

As a result of the long wait times for barges, the efficiency of barge transportation is reduced, and additional unnecessary demurrage costs can be incurred by the facilities or their customers.

However, there are multiple other solutions to the berth allocation problem that can maximize the quay utilizations while minimizing the dissatisfaction of the incoming vessels.

For a more efficient flow of barges through the port, it is important to have efficient planning and coordination by barge and terminal operators. Terminals that share a high level of information reduce the average service time per barge and increase the number of barges served each time period.

Shell Moerdjik terminal receives around 2.000 barges and 800 deep-sea visits each year. Due to a lack of real-time communication among the stakeholders, the terminal experienced a long idle time upon arrival for barges.

Solution: Provide accurate barges arrival times to terminals

To reduce idle time on arrival and improve communication, Shell Moerdjik started using our Synchronizer platform, which could exchange operationally relevant information directly integrated into the terminal’s native operating system.

To enable barges to report ETA’s to the terminal in a digitized format, we developed the Skipper app, which was integrated into our Synchronizer platform.

Our digital platform provides a way to enable skippers to receive nominations and updates from the terminal. At the same time, the barges can send the ETA’s to the terminal, allowing better planning. Synchronizer transmits information directly to the terminal operating software, in a secure and authorized way. 

The platform objectives are to reduce idle time, improve the quality and reliability of the communication, and allow fine-tuning jetty planning.

Synchronizer ensures that terminals are always aware of the vessel arrival time in advance. Digital collaboration platforms indeed enable the terminal to plan its resources more efficiently, enhancing the terminal’s utility ratio.

Result: Reduced barges idle time and improved communication

Synchronizer has been successfully implemented and used by barge captains in the past 2 years. A substantial majority of over 80% of barge captains in the Rotterdam region actively use the app by now and are satisfied with it. 

The info shared on the platform by the terminal, deep-sea vessels, and agents improved the communication and coordination among them.

Automatic real-time exchange of ETA – and ETD Berth resulted, therefore, in better pre-planning of all operations. In Moerdijk the idle time decreased by 15% in 2020 directly resulting in reduced demurrage costs, and communications via phone calls with 3rd parties at the terminal were reduced by 60%.

With Synchronizer, terminals like Shell Moerdijk can help their customers plan the deployment of their resources in a more optimal manner, reduce exposure to demurrage costs and contribute positively to the reduction of their carbon footprint.

Terminal benefits from data sharing solutions

  • More efficient berth allocation planning 
  • Better capacity utilization 
  • Helps to create unique selling points compared to other terminals

Terminals can help to align the incentives of different stakeholders improving the cooperation and efficiency in the berth-to-berth liquid bulk transport. Through collaboration, waiting hours at anchorage can be reduced, resulting in lowering the demurrage payments. Since our solution involves vessels sailing in an environmentally friendly way, an additional benefit is that the CO2 emissions can be reduced too.

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About the case

Problem
Due to a lack of real-time communication among the stakeholders, the Shell Moerdjik terminal experienced a long idle time upon arrival for barges.

Solution

Shell Moerdjik started using the Synchronizer platform, which could exchange operationally relevant information directly integrated into the terminal’s native operating system.
Result
The idle time decreased by 15% in 2020 directly resulting in reduced demurrage costs, and communications via phone calls with 3rd parties at the terminal were reduced by 60%

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