The Colombian port of Cartagena is now implementing a terminal management tool from software specialist Vehnet for vehicle movements through its Contecar terminal following a successful testing phase.
The Advance Marine Terminal technology will manage the lifecycle of all vehicles coming into the terminal, which handles up to 5,000 vehicles a month. According to Contecar Terminal’s director of systems and telecommunications, Eduardo Bustamante, the terminal was in need of specialised system to handle the finished vehicle business at the port.
“Although we already have highly sophisticated systems for containers, as well as our own TOS [terminal operating system], it is a standard breakbulk and container system,” he said. “As we import and export 5,000 vehicles every month through our terminal, have an inventory of around 2,500 cars and provide car processing services, there is a clear need for an additional specialised system to handle this aspect of our business. The Advance technology from Vehnet has delivered more control and allows us to provide better-than-ever service to our customers.”
Commenting on the implementation, Vehnet’s managing director, Steve Jones, said that once Contecar was satisfied with the prototype the company was able to install the software and agree on likely requirements for future growth. “Obviously we have also provided full training and ongoing support as part of the contract,” he added.
One of the demands that Vehnet worked on closely with Contecar in adapting the Advance Terminal Solution to local market needs was in customs
Jones told Automotive Logistics that at Contecar customs regulations are extremely specific and complex because of the Colombian government crackdown on narcotics trafficking, hence the terminal operator’s eagerness to maintain processes with total control and audit, something Jones said the Vehnet software fully supported.
“This was something we did just by configuration; no special software was developed. The process is really locked down, so that every vehicle is totally traced from before arrival through to exit, with all parties (including shipping line importer, forwarder, customs agent, customs, transporter and terminal) crosschecked. We really saved them a massive administrative headache, which would have killed them as the volumes increase.” 
Jones went on to say that Vehnet has already received enquiries from other Colombian companies because this is a big issue.
Meanwhile, Contecar is already planning an extension to the project that will integrate its financial and back office systems into the system.
Cartagena port, which is predominantly a container port, is currently being upgraded for the handling of 12,000 TEU ships by 2013 and is anticipating significant growth because of the Panama Canal expansion, which is expected to be finalised in 2014.