Although service levels at the terminal have improved, disruption may continue for a further two months.
The congestion experienced at Felixstowe has been blamed on problems following the implementation of Hutchison’s in-house terminal operating system (TOS), nGen on the 8th June.
The TOS sector is dominated by Navis, with it running in 80% of the world’s terminals, including Felixstowe, until it decided to implement nGen.
With 25 new terminals in the Hutchison network adopting the system over the past few years and the company’s IT engineers vastly experienced at implementing it, the management at Felixstowe were doubtless confident of a straightforward transition to their new TOS.
However, installing in a brand new terminal is a totally different proposition to implementing it into one of the world’s busiest container ports, while it is operating.
Felixstowe began linking terminal systems with carriers, forwarders and hauliers over thirty years ago, which meant the port community had become so densely “knitted” with the Navis terminal operating system, that the transition to the new TOS was absurdly complex, because all those external connections have had to be transitioned.
We have been advised that the system is now functioning correctly for the vast majority of transactions and we have certainly seen an improvement in service levels, though systems do appear to be fragile and may crash at any time, resulting in service interruptions around the terminal.
The port has a dedicated team working round the clock monitoring for and fixing issues as they arise, which should further minimise these incidences.
Although no date for getting service back to normal levels has been formally given, we have received an informal indication that this could be the 10th July.
However, according to a report in The Loadstar, an ‘inside source’ has suggested that the port could face another two months of turmoil. Describing the situation as “absolute chaos”, with data still having to be manually input, pushing productivity down to around 50%.
“Working the vessels is the biggest problem,” said the source, adding that ships are having to “cut and run, and not even able to load empties”.
He warned that the port could soon have another problem, with the number of empty containers stranded on the quay growing.
We remain in constant communication with the Port and if there any significant developments we will update you.