TOUGHPAD FZ-M1 FULLY RUGGED TABLETS TO MANAGE CONTAINER HANDLING OPERATIONS IN THE SARDINIAN TRANSHIPMENT HUB
Contship Italia Group is market leader in the business of maritime container terminals and intermodal transport, providing a wide offering of integrated solutions for the container logistics. Since 2003, the Cagliari International Container Terminal, managed by Porto Industriale di Cagliari Spa, is part of Contship Italia Group: a container terminal primarily dedicated to transshipment operations with 800 ship calls every year, handling a total of 700,000 TEUs (twenty Equivalent Units).
For such a terminal, which mainly transfers containers from the mother vessels, deployed in the main overseas routes, to the smaller feeder vessels, connecting the Mediterranean Sea regional ports, it is fundamental to achieve two objectives: guaranteeing customer satisfaction and carrying out loading and unloading operations in the fastest and most efficient way possible. This second objective reduces the time spent by ships in the port, cutting operating costs and subsequently the cost of goods traded globally.
To reach these goals, multiple processes have been implemented, dedicated not only to planning unloading and loading operations, but also to the correct positioning of containers in the terminal.
Inside the terminal, multiple vehicles move continuously to handle containers: from ship to shore quay cranes, used to load and unload the containers to yard trucks, as well as rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs) and Reach Stackers - special equipment able to stack up to 5 containers in height. In order to manage these activities efficiently, each vehicle must receive real-time information, and is therefore equipped with a tablet that provides operators with full visibility on the operations they have to carry out.
Tablets are mounted inside the vehicles' cabins or are available for those working on the ground, such as checkers, who verify vessel unloading and loading operations. The devices must therefore be resistant to bad weather, direct sunlight, and even accidental falls - in fact, they often fall in baskets full of 'twist locks', the metal hooks used by checkers to lock containers on board.
Considering the crucial role of mobile devices in carrying out daily operations, the Cagliari International Container Terminal decided to look for a technological partner who could provide reliable products. It started to test multiple solutions intensively in the field, to verify their ability to answer specific needs: resistance (to falls and bad weather), battery life and availability of accessories, especially for vehicle mounting. "Long battery life is a crucial element for us," says Alessandro Barrocu, IT Manager of Cagliari International Container Terminal. "Our terminal works 24/7, and devices must cover all operators' shifts".
After the test period, the company chose Panasonic solutions, and precisely Toughpad FZ-M1 tablets: fully rugged 7" tablets, that are particularly light and thin (only 540g and 18mm), characterised by unprecedented visibility, even under direct sunlight, optional hot swap battery, and configurable ports.
"The solution by Panasonic allowed us to obtain the best performances and utmost versatility," continues Barrocu. "In fact, the product is suitable for different uses and for all vehicles working in the terminal: this allowed us to choose a single solution, with no differentiations, and to further simplify the management of the devices in the production cycle."
A further advantage is the availability of standard accessories, as well as the opportunity to separately charge batteries, with no need to stop the devices, guaranteeing non-stop operations.
In addition to the product's quality, Barrocu particularly liked the high level of customer care offered by Panasonic. "During the long-lasting field tests, we already had the chance to establish a direct relationship with the company, aimed at rapidly solving any possible problem. The devices had never been used in this kind of environment, and on some occasions we asked Panasonic to help us solve problems related, for example, to heavy vibrations on the vehicles. This approach proved that Panasonic was a reliable partner, making us comfortable about the implemented management system, able to avoid any slowdown, or worse, interruption during the terminal operations"
In March 2016, the terminal started to implement the Panasonic devices, by replacing, in two months, about 70% of the existing stock. The process is still ongoing, and will lead to a full replacement of the devices previously used, for a total amount of around 100 devices.
"We are extremely satisfied with the solution we identified together with Cagliari International Container Terminal," says Elia Lupi, General Manager Italy and Central Eastern Europe of Panasonic Computer Product Solutions Europe. "Panasonic places great importance on customer care, and we are proud to know that it had a crucial role in the choice made by the Contship Italia Group terminal".
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