EDP Systems For Success

A marine terminal is made up of three components:
  • people
  • equipment/facilities
  • money
The discovery of the 1980s is that these components are connected by an important glue information. The control, management, and transfer of information is a vital element in a high efficiency marine terminal. Compared to the advances achieved in the other components, information management still remains relatively unexploited.

This paper will investigate the internal reasons for using a computer in the marine terminal to manage and control this vital information. The large marine terminals which have computerized from scratch have evolved in-house computer support for the terminal over time. This information evolution has gone through three distinct and now predictable phases:

  1. The paper system-The paper system is characterized by using no computer support. The paper system evolved from the break- bulk days and is usually quite sophisticated and efficient. As handling volumes increased, the paper system could not track the inventory and; therefore, a computer is required.
  2. The passive-tracking system-The passive-tracking system is just the paper recording system transformed into a computer recording system. Container moves are usually tracked after the fact, either in a batched mode or on-line. In order to evolve further, the final passive-tracking implementation must achieve the difficult objective of accurate inventory control. With accurate tracking, the computer can be used to direct part of the terminal operation.
  3. The computer-directed operation-In the computer-directed operation, terminal management can finally use the computer to achieve timely control of the operation, rather than just record what happens. The computer-directed operation is the first phase where the computer assumes some management chores in the marine terminal. The computer can be quite efficient at tasks which would be more efficient if centralized in the computer, but historically have been distributed to lower level supervisors.
In addition to the internal pressures, there are also several influences outside the marine terminal that are pushing all marine terminal operators toward computer systems:
  • Shipping companies are demanding accurate and more timely reports.
  • Shipping companies, railways, truckers, and customs agencies are all demanding on-line computer interfaces for electronic data interchange. In fact, senior U.S. Customs officials have been cajoling U.S. ports to "automate or perish" [reference 1,2].
  • Although recognizing the overwhelming external pressures to use a computer system, this paper only focuses on the internal reasons for using the computer to control information.