A marine terminal is made up of three components:
The discovery of the 1980s is that these components are connected
by an important glue Ð 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.