Introduction of new technologies enhances competitiveness of Riga port companies in the segment of containerized cargo
According to the 2016 cargo turnover results the last year has been particularly successful for the port of Riga in the area of container transshipment, the company said in its press release. Last year, 385.9 thousand TEU of containers were transshipped via the port, which is an increase by 8.6% compared to the previous year. Due to economic sanctions’ impact there was a dramatic fall in turnover of containerized cargo in 2015 , nevertheless, despite the continuation of sanctions, last year container cargo turnover at Riga port has been able to grow and almost reached the 2014 level.
The most significant contribution to the growth of container cargo turnover was provided last year by the largest, most modern and the only specialized container handling terminal at the Port of Riga – SIA “Baltic Container Terminal” (BCT), its turnover in 2016 increased by 12.8% and it handled 68% of all containerized cargo at the port.
In terms of turnover BCT is the largest container terminal in the Baltic States. The company's key to success is consistent terminal modernization and introduction of the newest technologies, particularly in the IT sector, with the aim to adapt to market development and growing customer requirements. Due to the implementation of the latest technologies and IT solutions, the terminal operation is optimized to shorten the time of vessel handling, as every hour at berth creates additional costs for the company's clients. The introduction of the new management systems enhances the company's competitiveness, terminal operation becomes more efficient, more effective and more transparent to its clients. By connecting to terminal systems, the clients are able to track the movement of their container. This in turn fosters customer trust and confidence in the operation of the terminal.
In regards of information technology the BCT is the unequivocal leader in the Baltic States. A new and very modern terminal management system (Terminal Operating System - TOS) NAVIS N4 version 3.1 was launched last year. The system provides all container processing cycle management in real-time regime. It consists of container planning, vessel scheduling and equipment control modules that together provide an effective vessel service and the entire handling process planning, from container unloading up to container loading. Baltic Container Terminal TOS new version is the first system of its kind in Eurasia.
The new TOS system is connected to other terminal management systems and modules, which have been running at the BCT for several years. This system is based on the advanced IT solutions’ integration into container handling process, and it provides the possibility to automate a large portion of container handling processes at the terminal. Processes related to vessel, gate and railway operations are automated by using optical character recognition technology, as well as image capture and processing algorithms. As a result, all the handled containers are photographed, thus detecting possible damage at an early stage. Accordingly, container delivery and acceptance process efficiency is enhanced, human error number is reduced, the quality of services is improved and operation efficiency improvement is ensured.
One of the container carriage enhancement methods is using bigger vessels for container shipping. According to cargo statistics, last year the average size of container carriers at the port of Riga increased by 14.5%. In 2016 the MSC liner Alexa (42,307 GT, 3,300 TEU) was served at the Baltic Container Terminal, it was the largest liner - container carrier in the history of the port. To remain competitive, the company should adapt to customer requirements and be able to attend to larger size vessels at the terminal within increasingly shorter deadlines. Therefore, in parallel with introduction of new IT solutions, funds are being constantly invested by the BCT into the modernization of the terminal and its capacity building. In recent years, a new modern container crane with a higher lifting capacity, dimensions and cargo handling speed was mounted, new railway access tracks were built and the existing tracks were upgraded, a new warehouse was built and this year construction of another warehouse will be started. Future plans include berth extension and expansion of the container storage.
The Freeport of Riga is the largest port in Latvia. In 2016 cargo turnover volume amounted to 37 million tons. The Freeport of Riga is a multi-functional port with a modern and secure infrastructure, where high quality services are provided by 194 private enterprises operating at the port, including 35 stevedoring companies (cargo handling terminals).
The Freeport of Riga Authority (FPRA) manages the port, and is responsible for the maintenance of the port infrastructure, for the port security, as well as for the port land and infrastructure leasing to private enterprises. The FPRA is the executive body that implements the Freeport of Riga Board decisions on port development. The FPRA is not engaged in commercial activities at the port. Its revenues consist of port dues, collected from the vessels, as well as of land and berth rent fees. The FPRA operates in compliance with the principles of non-profit organizations - its financial resources are spent only for the port management and development.