Digital Marine news

Marine Digital, automating small and medium sized terminals


Olga Kostenko, for Marine Digital Systems

We started as a technology startup: after several dozens of meetings with representatives of seaports, cargo terminals, cargo owners, agents and logistics companies, we found the need for solve the problems of accounting, planning, as well as increase the speed of cargo turnover and related workflow for small and medium-sized terminals. The lack of turnkey solutions for automating processes in warehouses for bulk and general cargo terminals in a short time and a sane budget, with competence in IT and logistics, has become the main prerequisite for the creation of the Marine Digital System company.

Our team has huge expertise in logistics, software and product development, thanks to which we were able in a short time to:
• develop technology to automate key processes of cargo terminals in ports,
• launch several pilot projects in terminals specializing in bulk and general cargo,
• present boxed solutions to specific tasks with a transparent cost.


We saw a need for solving the problems of accounting, planning, as well as increasing the speed of cargo turnover and the associated document flow for small and medium-sized terminals.

As a result, we became not just the developer of the regular WMS (Warehouse management system) or TOS (Terminal operating system) system, we created a platform where the functionality of these classes of systems became available to small and medium-sized terminals: divided into modules and supplemented with modules that connect if necessary solving complex tasks.

Automation best practices MDS

Levels of terminal automation can be tentatively divided into types:

External level:

Automation of information tracking on cargo incoming to the terminal, planning and systematization of this information.

Creating and tracking information about the incoming cargo.

Cargo arrives at the terminal with 3 modes of transport: road, rail and water.
At this stage, 2 standard linked problems arise:

● The effect of the so-called “bottleneck” happens at the entrance to the terminal due to the capacity of transport processing of the terminal
● Lack of information on the time and size of incoming cargo, which interferes with the terminal work schedule

Automation purposes:
Planning of stevedorage and shipload

Information resources:
AIS, clients requests, Rail car location tracking system,
AIS integration (incoming vessels), Queuing systems, motor transport (our development), railcar location (AEDRail)

Examples of the most significant cases and solutions.

Terminal 1: Bulk cargo, grain, cargo turnover of 1 million tons.

There are 6 warehouses at the terminal, the grain is located in warehouses, depending on the results of the laboratory inspection of incoming trucks.

Location – within the city
There is no need for a warehouse accounting system.
The mooring wall is loaded at 50-60%

Problem: Every morning, up to 150 trucks accumulate in the terminal during the cleaning season, it is impossible to place trucks on the way in the city, local residents complain to the city administration.
Main direction: land – sea

The obvious solution: Increase the number of laboratories to 2. In this case, all the trucks will be processed in 5-6 hours, but there will be a problem with the loading equipment in the warehouses (it is now 70% loaded), in this case there will be a “bottleneck” at the warehouses, and 150 trucks will be still stuck. The total cost of investments in the new laboratory is 150K Euros, the cost of maintaining 3-5K Euros per month.

Form a queuing systems with processing windows
● A client sends a request to the terminal about the arrival of the truck and indicates the driver’s phone number
● The driver receives a link (SMS, WhatsApp, telegram) to the electronic queue with free and busy windows for unloading
The driver selects the window to arrive and plans his trip

● No laboratory needed
● Parking can be reduced to 30 trucks
● In the vacant place, put equipment for drying grain, raising the class and cost of grain
● At the vacant place, put an additional warehouse, increasing the terminal’s turnover by 10-15%, as a revenue from drying (grain of a higher class from drying and an additional warehouse)
● The loyalty of drivers and customers increases.

Automation cost:

● 6k EUR; fronts design and distribution systems for a specific terminal with a client authorization system, mobile versions of sites for drivers, connection of WhatsApp and telegram bots. Creation of a request system for clients and a scheduler for a terminal operator. Integration with SMS, mail distribution systems.

● Monthly maintenance of the system: 300 euros, SMS (50-80 euros, depending on the number of mailings).

Terminal 2:
Warehouse cold storage – 3000 sq.m. (12 refrigerators)
Turnover 250 – 300 thousand tons
Location – within the city
Need for warehouse management system
Main direction: land – sea
Location: inside the large general cargo terminal
Problems: Lack of information on the approach of loading transport (wagons and vehicles) towards land.

● For trucks: queuing systems with processing windows
● For railway transport: automatic informing about an application for sending a car to the terminal, information about the location of rail car
● Synchronization of the planner with the inventory system

● Narrowing the loading area for motor transport to 1 front, increasing the loading area of rail cars
● Formation of lots depending on the approach of cars / rail cars
● Decrease in errors and search time of cargo (integration with the accounting system)
● Customer loyalty increases

Internal level:

Automation of operations inside the terminal. Moving handling equipment. Formation of shipload. Division, consolidation of goods. Work planning, location and cargo search inside the terminal. WMS module

The formation of quantity of cargo and their placement at the terminal depending on the time of approach of transport (vessels, rail cars, cars)

Markup and visualization of the terminal


  1. The terminal operator, seeing applications from customers for the shipment, plans to place them in accordance with the schedule of the transport approach.
  2. Drivers at the moment of crossing the terminal gate by transport know which zone to follow
  3. Stevedors are automatically notified about the arrived transport and begin the process of moving cargo to pre-planned places
  4. Client / agent / operator may combine, share cargo, partially dispatch lots
  5. The customer submits the loading specification and the loading order through the system
  6. Stevedors know exactly the location of the cargo and the place of loading of the vessel / rail car / car
  7. With economic feasibility, integration with scales and crane equipment allows you to accurately track the volume of cargo passing through the terminal and calculate tariffs


● Reduced mileage of loading equipment by 10-15%.
● Acceleration of processing of one car for 7-10 minutes. (Usually the term of stay at the terminal is 25-40 minutes)
● Reduce load on the terminal operator
● Reduce errors
● Reduce inventory
● Automation of messages to the customs authorities (CMR, car number)
● Accurate data on the shelf life of each individual item (pallets, big bags, etc.)

Examples of the most significant cases and solutions.
Terminal 3:
Cargo turnover is 3-5 million tons (1 million – bulk – grain, 2-4 general cargoes – wood and products). Turnover of 50-100 cars per day.
The cost of zoning is 2K (marking and plates), a printout of 5 large schemes.


● Previously, every 30th car with errors in the CMR or or incomplete documents, now every 60th.
● Loader fuel costs per ton (until there is no clarity, it will be after at least a quarter of use October-November) subjectively, by 7%
● Accurate tracking of the shelf life of each cargo
● Accurate tracking of volumes (while there is no exact data on the volume, we plan to achieve 3-5% increase in revenue + cost reduction)

Documentary level:

Automation of the preparation of documents related to the cargo:
Consignment notes, notifications from customs authorities, acts of stevedores, data for transfer to customs authorities.

● Automation of loading documents:
Formation of acts of the stevedore, rail car sheets, data for the bill of lading
● Customs information

Integration with AEDrail (the entire territory of the SMGS Agreement) for preliminary informing the customs authorities about the creation of invoices and the shipment of cargo.
Informing freight forwarders and agents about the transport chain (car number, CMR number) of the formed ship lot, the agent sends to the tax and customs numbers of cars and invoices for tax refunds (VAT, PVN) when paying for transportation for export.
● automation of accounting and billing for stevedore services: The billing system monitors the storage periods and volumes of cargo work, generates accounts for customers depending on the settlement conditions for each specific customer (free storage periods, loading volumes, etc.)

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