A new £1.1M IT system installed at the Port of Liverpool has led to immediate improvements in customer service since its launch, with 95% of truck drivers processed though the port within an hour, surpassing the performance of other major UK ports.
The Port of Liverpool switched on its new WI-FI network, upgraded its Terminal Operating System (TOS) and also activated a new Global Positioning System (GPS) for its straddle carriers just a fortnight ago. Since then the service level provided to hauliers has seen a significant improvement, with more than 95% of truck drivers processed through the port within an hour and more than 60% in and out of the gate within 30 minutes.
The first phase in the implementation of the Liverpool terminal’s cutting-edge IT systems and operating platforms, the Port’s management team say it is a strategic milestone in the development of its new IT platform for container terminal operations.
Gareth Jones, Operations and Planning Manager for Peel Ports Mersey, said: “With the growth strategies planned for the Port it was clear that the business had to make a huge leap, not only to keep pace with other container terminals within the UK but to become “best in class”.
“We have differentiated ourselves by not only delivering an IT upgrade, but by ensuring our customers benefited through recognisable changes to our service levels. Each of the upgrades were interdependent which made this a complex project, however given the Port’s commitment to delivering “best in class” service, it was decided it was better to deliver all three in as short a lead-in time as possible.”
The programme was successfully managed by Jones and Paul Elliot, IT Manager at The Port of Liverpool.  The speed at which the system was implemented is considered one of the fastest examples of a turnkey TOS solution being deployed correctly first-time within the industry.
The system deployed is the latest version of Zebra’s SPARCS 3.7 and has deployed advanced modules to better manage both the yard strategy and equipment deployment. The WI-FI network has been upgraded to Spread Spectrum to accommodate the additional messaging between the TOS and the straddle carriers. The GPS has also been renewed with added functionality such as RFID logon and twist lock interlock which prevents containers being incorrectly handled.
The first phase of implementation saw the new system applied to the road interchange with the vessel operations phased over the coming weeks. The advanced software modules will assist in providing more available space on the terminal through dynamic allocation of container slots and automated workload allocation to the straddle carriers, the benefits of which equate to a 22% increase in available stacking area and productivity enhancements of up to 20%.
David Huck, Head of Port Operations for Peel Ports Mersey, said: “The coming months will see the Port implementing integrated landside and shipside operations, creating the seamless and efficient operation that our customers require.
“The implementation of the new systems took place without any problems or any dip in performance. In fact the Port has already seen improvements in productivity in line with our expectations; a reduction in vehicle turnaround times that are today the best in the UK with 95% of hauliers serviced in less than 60 minutes and for a four part job (four containers) that takes some beating.
“The success of initial ‘go live’ and unprecedented speed of delivery is testimony to the commitment of the team working on this project to deliver a world-class service to meet customer expectations. The next steps will clearly be to scale our TOS and integrate the Manchester Ship Canal container hubs, SMART VBS (Vehicle Booking System), RMS (Resource Management Systems) and the proposed River Terminal into one common platform.”
Already this year, Peel Ports has delivered a number of successes, including increasing capacity on the barge service provided along the Manchester Ship Canal, adding additional services into the Port of Liverpool’s container terminal and integrating the offers of Liverpool and Manchester, creating a 44-mile stretch of water in the heart of the UK. 
Together, the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal offer a comprehensive range of port facilities, handling more than 40 million tonnes of cargo and 16,500 ship movements a year – making the River Mersey Britain's third busiest estuary.