The Port of Melbourne has engaged technology services company EDS to integrate its complex supply chain into a single information portal, hoping to improve the efficiency of the cargo moving process.
The volatile mix of public and private companies involved in cargo transactions involves IT systems at different levels of maturity, including some legacy systems, according to EDS Australia managing director, Chris Mitchell.
"It's a complex environment with disconnected pieces of information and processes that ultimately results in delays and congestion in port operations," he said in a statement.
The portal will allow the information from these systems to be adapted and transferred to the other systems. "The portal itself is like a big messaging switch which validates and standardises information flows and passes that in a secure format to those parties involved in the transaction," Jeff Carson, general manager, information and technology services, Port of Melbourne Corporation told ZDNet.com.au.
The system will reduce unnecessary communications and minimise delays through information validation according to Carson: "The portal will eliminate the current heavy utilisation of phone and e-mail question and answers. Information will be available online in the format required by the various supply chain participants. It will also provide a degree of validation of information at the entry point which will minimise errors and as a direct result minimise possible delays in the movement of cargo."
"If you can imagine getting [the members of the supply chain] all in the same room, that's what we're doing in a virtual sense," a Port of Melbourne spokesperson added.
The Port of Melbourne hopes to replicate the Spanish Port of Valencia's success by reducing the time to process a container by 50 to 60 percent. "The Port of Valencia handles a similar container volume to the port of Melbourne and closely reflects its supply chain arrangements," Carson said. Containers account for up to 70 percent of traffic within the port.
While the monetary benefits of the system are not currently quantifiable according to Carson, he believes the "savings could be significant" and that the single information portal could help the Port of Melbourne cope with future growth, given that the Port of Melbourne has grown consecutively by almost eight percent per year over the last 16 years.
The single information portal, called eDIT (electronic Documentation and Information Transfer pilot), is the largest project within the Victorian Department of Infrastructure's AU$3 million Smart Freight initiative to develop and implement information and communication technology tools such as real time travel and delay information for trucks, and container management tools.