APM Terminals introduces satellite-based container positioning system at Apapa

Leading port terminal operator, APM Terminals Apapa Limited, is introducing revolutionary measures to aid prompt service delivery at the port.
The measures, according to the Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa, Mr. Dallas Hampton, include a satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) for containers, and a new, first of its kind in the world multi-level container inspection facility for physical examination of containers by Customs operatives.
Hampton said that the satellite-based container location system will ensure 99.5 per cent accuracy of container location and inventory in the terminal yard.
“Manual systems cannot achieve much more than 90 per cent accuracy. The GPS system will also enable the use of further technologies such as NAVIS Prime Route and Expert Decking which are advanced real time IT systems that can improve terminal yard efficiency. These systems combined will enable the terminal to have completely pedestrian free yards, and provide truck service times for receival and delivery which are less than 45 minutes on average,” he said.

Hampton said the GPS will be installed once ongoing civil works are complete and will become operational early next year.
The APM Terminals Apapa boss also said that his company is building a US$10 million (about N1.6 billion) facility for physical inspection of containers by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The facility, the first of its kind in the world, will utilise a multi-level racking system operated by yard cranes.
The insatiable demand by operatives of the NCS for physical inspection of containers is the main driver behind the US$10 million multi-level racking system investment.

“The multi-level facility is designed to reduce the footprint of the current inspection area and enable better use of what is effectively scarce terminal land for holding containers – which is after all the primary purpose of a container terminal yard, as opposed to allocating huge areas of the terminal to Customs inspection. Nigeria is unique in that up to 70 per cent of containers undergo Customs inspection in the terminal – most countries in the world do less than 10 per cent at this point.
“As container volumes grow one of the real constraints on capacity in the port system in Nigeria is the ever increasing demand for physical inspection by Customs. Most of the inspections are cursory formalities and do not involve much more than opening and closing the doors so a multi-level racking system for positioning containers can be used,” he said.
Hampton said that the new facility will be weatherproof and have integrated lighting to allow extended hours of operation should Customs be willing to do 24/7 inspection to meet its own demands.
“Improved safety will also be a prime advantage and the multi-level inspection areas can be locked out to isolate pedestrian during the operations by the two specially equipped RTG (yard) cranes – effectively separating man and machine. The use of yard cranes will make the whole inspection operation faster and more efficient than the current system using reach stackers” Hampton said.
He warned that the risk to the US$10 million investment in the facility is that Customs may use it as an opportunity to physically inspect an even higher percentage of containers which may well defeat the purpose of improving performance.
Both the GPS and the multi-level racking container inspection system are part of the Phase Three of the modernistion and upgrading of the Apapa terminals which is costing the company US$135 million and which also includes terminal yard redevelopment and expansion, new staff amenities and customer service building and acquisition of additional container handling equipment.

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