The heralded Navis N4 system controls the entire logistical operation of each container ship: determining what containers are on board as well as identifying which should be discharged and those that ought to be loaded. It also produces an accurate model of each ship to enable operations staff to work with a live image in real time.
Navis N4 also maximises efficiency within the terminal area, where some 45,000 containers can be stored at any one time, automatically calculating where each should be located and directing trucks to the nearest one to ensure the loading operation is carried out as quickly as possible.
Malta Freeport Terminals CEO Alex Montebello said: “Around 2,000 to 3,500 containers are typically loaded or unloaded when a mainliner berths, so getting this right and ensuring the vessel leaves as early as possible is absolutely essential for a major terminal like ours.
“Navis N4 will significantly enhance our ability to do this and enable us to introduce the latest technology which fits in with our overall mission to position Malta Freeport Terminals as one of the best in the region.”
The Freeport has been preparing for the introduction of the N4 system for the past 18 months and installed the system during the course of a meticulously planned 24-period over the Santa Marija public holiday – one of only five days in the year when the Freeport ceases operations – to ensure there was no disruption to its busy operations.
Coordinated by Malta Freeport Terminals Head of IT, Jesmond Baldacchino, a team of 25 people worked on a shift system round the clock to effect a seamless transition from the old system to N4 and ensure the Freeport was once again fully operation by 8am on August 16.
Mr Baldacchino said: “We carefully planned when would be best to introduce this new technology – waiting till it had been fully trialled at a few other major terminals – and carried out several dry runs to ensure there were no problems.
“It was also important for terminal staff not to be disrupted by this changeover. In fact, when they reported for work in the morning, they could carry on as usual as even the screens on the container handling equipment they were using previously remained the same.”
Live operations are presently running smoothly and only some minor delays were encountered at the Main Gate due to changes in the process. The Freeport acted rapidly to ensure that all necessary measures were taken so that all container deliveries were completed by the end of the day.
The N4 system was a fundamental step forward for Malta Freeport to support the Terminal’s business performance as a whole by optimising the long-term operational efficiency and strengthen the intelligent movement of cargo through the Container Terminal. This system also supports future growth at the Container Terminals while reducing operational overheads and maintaining customer-focused services.
Malta Freeport Terminals is on a constant drive to improve its services and facilities and is seeking to invest in more equipment in the future to further increase capability and efficiency.