International Car Operators (ICO) has signed a contract with German software provider Inform for a new terminal operating system at the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge that is designed to improve compound management for vehicles at port compounds. 
The system, which will be fully operational by the beginning of 2012, will be based on Inform’s SyncroTESS product suite, which is designed to optimize logistics operations and will provide modern compound management for ro-ro traffic. It includes the tracking of each vehicle, real-time graphical representation of the yard layout and all cars, as well as the integration of handhelds, barcodes and RFID.
ICO, a subsidiary of NYK, manages vessel and terminal handling services, vehicle processing, port agency, customs clearance and forwarding at the ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp, and also has joint ventures at other locations in Europe.
According to Inform, the system’s planning modules will enable ICO to make the best use of the terminal yards and minimise the distance between unloading and loading operations towards the drawing up of a more efficient berth plan. ICO will be able to determine the number of resources required and assign jobs in sequence on the day of execution to individual workers.
Alain Guillemyn, ICO’s manager for IT, said the implementation of the terminal operating system is the most important project for ICO because of its support of the company’s core business processes. “The goal was to establish a business case which helps to refinance the investment of the system in a very short period of time. This was possible only with the use of highly sophisticated optimisation tools, which have proven themselves in other companies or even at container terminals.”
The project is also very important for Inform, according to Matthias Berlit, head of industrial solutions at the company’s Logistics Systems Division, who said the tender process has been on hold since the economic crisis hit the market.
“Project opportunities in the field of finished vehicle logistics were more or less stopped for that reason,” he told Automotive Logistics News. “[But] here we have won a highly-respected customer with a challenging and large operation, which is also looking for innovative ideas by using advanced planning features for berth, yard and resource demand planning, plus a real-time optimization component. It will be a very strong reference customer for us and is certainly a ‘lighthouse project’ in the field of compound management systems for ro-ro terminals.”
Last year, ICO handled a total volume of 1.6m cars and high and heavy units at its specialised ro-ro terminals in Zeebrugge and Antwerp. The terminal in Antwerp focuses on deep-sea traffic and second hand cars, while Zeebrugge–the world largest part for new cars–is a European hub for new factory cars and a gateway for short-sea car trades in Europe.