Data Analytics Improve NC Ports Performance

Successfully Implements Versiant’s TOS and Gate Systems

By Lori Musser

Shaving a few minutes off a truck turn or squeezing a few more cargo units onto a yard can enhance a port’s competitiveness, efficiency, capacity utilization and economic benefits. Five years ago, the time was right to deploy data analytics to help do these things, said Hans Bean, chief commercial officer of the North Carolina State Ports Authority, or NCSCA, at technology session at Breakbulk Americas in Houston.

Bean said that when NCSCA launched its US$220 million-plus capital expansion program, its broad ranging investments included infrastructure, terminal operating system, gate systems and data analytic solutions. “Up until that point, how we looked at data was scary,” said Bean, describing siloed information, a lack of consistency in reporting, and having no real-time data access. “The investment was a chance to reboot ourselves … We saw it as a way to play smarter, use data to our advantage, save time, and increase performance and productivity.”

Lance Kenworthy, director of bulk and breakbulk at NCSPA, said having the data to fix problems was a chance to “punch above our weight … and differentiate ourselves with speed and efficiency.”

NCSPA worked with provider Versiant to automate data accumulation, simplify data access, and improve operational visibility, enabling decision making based on facts.

Deane Stuart, head of sales for Versiant, said ports deploy data analytics to better address challenges. Major container ports were the first to benefit. “Breakbulk is a few years late to the technology party,” he s0aid, but the benefits are just as real and measurable.

Kenworthy said NCSPA’s efficiency improvements have been impressive. For example, “we can [now] track turn times down to a T. [This helps because] Everybody’s pinched by capacity.”

Another advantage is the ability to track customer data by trade corridor, vessel and carrier, helping the port’s sales team guide resource expenditures. In a nutshell, as the port grows, data analytics are key to scaling up the port’s good performance and reputation, Bean said.