VIG Introduces New Terminal Operating System
A new, unified terminal operating system is driving the terminal data and control systems at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) following the recent, successful changeover from a system that was more than 10 years old.
The changeover to the Navis N4 terminal operating system started the evening of May 11, when the critical, 24-hour-long data migration process began. At that point, all cargo and vessel operations were put on hold. Truck gates opened 7 AM Saturday and closed at noon, per the normal schedule. Rail, barge and vessel operations resumed later that day. On Monday, May 14, the terminal opened under the new system at 7 AM, as planned.
“Our ability to efficiently coordinate all of the operations, analyze the data and drive efficiency while growing our volumes requires a twenty-first century terminal and operating system,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “Our barge, rail, and truck volumes are growing, the vessels calling Virginia are getting bigger – and we are driving to dredge to 55 feet to attract even bigger vessels. All of this dictates that we have the technology to manage this growth, more capacity and a team that is well-prepared.
“It was a well-executed team performance that held no major service interruptions,” Reinhart added. “The professionalism exhibited by the team to make this project a success must be recognized. Now we are in the stage of addressing some minor issues and building familiarity with the technology. We have experience with N4 at our other terminals and we are encouraged by the early results we are seeing.”
In 2014, following more than two years of preparation, the port switched-on N4 at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and set the stage for bringing the system to VIG. Portsmouth Marine Terminal and Richmond Marine Terminal also use N4.
The N4 system also supports the Trucker Reservation System that the port implemented in March at NIT. The port will be announcing a mandatory start date for the reservation system at VIG by the end of June.
“For our ocean, rail and motor-carrier partners, the processes of bringing in and loading or unloading vessels, trains and trucks to VIG is unchanged,” Reinhart said. “A high-level of productivity, a fully-staffed labor force and solid customer service will continue to be the norm. Over time, what we will see is a more efficient operation that in the end will benefit our stakeholders and customers.”
In parallel to the debut of N4, the first of 13 new container stacks at VIG is being brought online this week, a move that will expand the terminal’s capacity by 20 percent. As the first stack is fully-integrated into the operation, it and the others will be driven by the new operating system.
“This is an important step forward in the progression of the VIG expansion and the modernization of The Port of Virginia,” Reinhart said. “The importance is three-fold: this new stack increases capacity in the container yard, we can begin to monetize our investment and the new terminal operating system will drive efficiency, data collection and sharing, analysis and forecasting across the operation.”
Having N4 in place as the first stack was ready for service was critical as the system needed to be in place to drive and support the expanded capacity.
When the $320 million expansion of VIG is complete, it will have 26 new rail-mounted gantry cranes, four additional ship-to-shore cranes, 850 linear feet of new berth space, a rail operation that has doubled in size and four more lanes at the truck gate. When complete in 2019, the terminal will have the capacity to process 1.2 million containers annually.
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