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Navis lists automation priorities

Following the inaugural 2018 Navis Automation Summit in London this month, Navis customers have identified their priorities for automation software development.

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Standardized interfaces would help terminals use data to get a better view of the operation.
Standardized interfaces would help terminals use data to get a better view of the operation.

The Summit is part of Navis’ continuing push to bring terminals together to collaborate on implementing terminal automaton, while helping Navis to identify priorities for its own automation development work.


Prior to the London Summit, Navis had announced findings from a survey on the growing shift towards container terminal automation. The TechValidate survey, titled “Challenges and Opportunities for Automation”, canvased over 75 Navis customers at various stages of automation. Of the respondents 20% were “already fully automated and 13% were investigating this option”, 37% had process automation systems (with 40% investigating these), while 21% had automated equipment (with 24% considering implementation).


The number of terminals moving from “investigation” to implementation is expected to increase, particularly as they survey showed a majority of respondents (74%) “clearly believe that automation in some form (full, equipment or process automation) will be critical to stay competitive in the next 3-5 years” Navis noted.


Despite the numbers, there are still major concerns about the difficulty of putting automation into practice. “The top challenges cited by respondents are the costs are too high (68%), lack of skills or resources to implement and manage automation (52%), challenges with labor unions (44%) and the time it takes to implement (30%)”.


At the London Seminar Navis focused on how it could work with customers to analyze operations at a detailed level to identify improvements in software, equipment, processes and people to achieve higher levels of operational productivity. “The majority of the participants agree that we need to focus on facts, data and analysis in order to determine how to achieve the next level of improvements in automated terminal productivity,” said Scott Peoples, President TOS Business Line at Navis.


Peoples said bringing together Navis customers to discuss common goals was very worthwhile, “we identified areas such as the next generation user experience/user interface where our customers and Navis agree that investment would lead to improved operation of automated terminals”.


The priorities for automation software development by Navis were the following.

  • Provide more tools and dashboards to help our customers understand what they need to do to improve operational productivity.
  • Invest in the next generation user experience/user interface to improve operation of automated terminals.
  • Work with our customers to standardize the more complex interfaces between systems to simplify data flow and allow users to correlate data from different systems into one simple picture of the operations.
  • Pull back the lens and provide software than can help improve the interaction of the container terminal with other key stakeholders such as ocean carriers, port authorities, rail operators and truckers.

The need to standardize interfaces has been identified many times before, but mainly in relation to connecting the different components and systems that make up an automation system. Navis has now identified that standardization is also an issue after go-live, when terminals are trying to tune the operation to increase performance.

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