In a first for sub-Saharan Africa ports, South African port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has implemented the Refcon system at its Cape Town terminal to remotely carry out temperature checks on refrigerated shipping containers.
Previously, reefers were manually checked by operators at four-hour intervals. In addition, shipping lines carried out their own “shadow monitoring” twice daily. Faults and breakdowns were only identifiable during monitoring times.
Recent commissioning of Navis, the main operating system that plans and records all container and equipment moves, has been successfully integrated with Refcon. This permits automatic synchronization of information between the two systems, which improves operations. Refcon feeds reefer temperature information into Navis at 30-minute intervals.
Hector Danisa, TPT’s assistant terminal executive of the Western Province terminals, said, “A major benefit of integrating Refcon into the Navis system is that faulty and out-of-protocol reefers can be identified easier and quicker, which reduces the terminal’s risk profile and saves costs. Shipping lines are now able to access Refcon on Navis.”
Operators have undergone training on remotely monitoring reefers. Refcon’s remote monitoring server gives operators electronic messages highlighting exceptions. The operator then reports relevant alarms to shipping lines for rectification. In case of Refcon or Navis shutting down, a manual procedure has been created to protect cargo integrity.
Reefers that are not Refcon-compliant will still be monitored manually. However, 80% of terminal customers are already Refcon-compliant, and initiatives are being implemented to improve this. Shipping line Maersk leads with 95% compliance.
Future plans being considered for Refcon include automatic e-mail and text message alerts to customers and stakeholders. TPT also hopes to extend Refcon to more reefer areas within the terminal.
Meanwhile, the Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system—first installed at Pier 1 in Durban, Port Elizabeth Container Terminal, and East London Multipurpose Terminal in South Africa—has maintained an average of 99% uptime from April to October 2010.
Visit www.transnetportterminals.net to learn more.