From now on, Hutchison Ports ECT Delta drives containers selected for a customs inspection through a hypermodern container scan located at its own terminal site. The customs facility, which was commissioned in the first half of 2018, combines the latest dual view technologies with the possibility of submitting ten TEU for inspection in one go. That makes this container scan unique in the world. And most importantly: it considerably improves logistics.
To allow for ten TEU to be scanned simultaneously, the containers are driven through the new container scan on a Multi Trailer System (MTS). The 80-metre long trains on rubber tyres have already been in use for internal transport at the ECT Delta for many years and are now also proving invaluable for carrying out efficient inspections. With numerous safeguards in place to ensure safe operations, an MTS driver takes his load of an MTS driver takes his load of five 40-foot containers or ten 20-foot containers through the scan in one go. Team leader of the Scan at Port of Rotterdam Customs Eric Hogenbirk: “Dual view allows us to look through both the side and the top of the container using X-rays, thus giving us a more complete picture of its contents. As a result, containers need to be opened less frequently for additional physical inspection.”
Sometimes the analysis has already been completed before the container has been returned to its position in the stack.
The container scan works fully automatically. The control and analysis of the scan images is performed from the customs office located elsewhere at the Maasvlakte. Most of the time, no customs officer is present at the facility at the ECT terminal. The basic agreement is that every container selected for a scan inspection is scanned – and the resulting image analysed - within 36 hours after having been unloaded from the sea-going vessel. “We are automatically notified the moment an MTS arrives at the container scan,” says Hogenbirk. Depending on the time and the available capacity, the scan images can next be viewed in real time at the command post or first be buffered for analysis at a slightly later time. “We always use the first-in, first-out principle for these analyses. Sometimes the analysis has already been completed before the container has been returned to its position in the stack."Provided no irregularities have been detected, the container is immediately released in the terminal system of ECT, making it available for onward transport.
Ten MTS trains instead of one hundred containers on separate chassis substantially reduces the number of transport movements.
For the ECT Delta and its customers, the new inspection method constitutes a considerable improvement. ECT's Operations Manager Ton Leenderts: “In the past, we had to position selected containers on a chassis and individually drive them from the terminal to the scanning device at the customs office on the other side of the main road. There, the containers would be inspected one at a time. Now, we can use the input from Customs to put together full MTS trains. We can drive these through our very own on-site container scan at any convenient moment. The capacity is virtually unlimited. Furthermore, ten MTS trains instead of one hundred containers on seperate chassis substantially reduces the number of transport movements."
The advantages of the own container scan have already become fully apparent in practice at the ECT Delta. Operations Manager Jan Molenaar: “During the recent, very busy fruit season, we were able to very easily keep track of the range of containers selected by Customs for a scan inspection. In the past, there were often issues related to waiting times. Recipients of fresh fruit and the like always want to quickly have their cargo at their disposal. In the past, they would frequently call us to enquire when their containers would be available; now we hardly receive these kinds of questions anymore.”
Having its own container scan was a long-cherished wish for the ECT Delta. Together with neighbour APM Terminals Rotterdam (APMTR), it was the only terminal at the Maasvlakte without this facility. That constituted a serious competitive disadvantage. Leenderts: “We started the discussion five years ago and three years ago we reached consensus with Customs on the construction of the container scan; Customs invested in the installation and ECT in the surrounding infrastructure.”
Cooperation Customs and business community
Hogenbirk concludes: “As Customs, it is our duty to perform inspections, but we endeavour to do so with minimal disruption to the logistics chain. We strive for good cooperation with the business community, so that cargo can quickly be moved to the hinterland. Every container that does not have to first be put on a chassis and moved to our customs office for a scan inspection means substantial time savings.”