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Channel 5 is a new service currently being piloted at Seayard’s container terminal in Fos-sur-Mer on France’s Mediterranean coast. It was developed by MGI, a Marseille-based company specialised in Cargo Community Systems (CCSs) and Port Community Systems (PCSs) for port, airport and inland logistics communities. Channel 5 updates users on gate traffic and expected import/export cargo volumes to provide an accurate real-time overview of port system status. This project, developed in partnership with CEA Tech, the French Atomic and Alternative Energy Commission’s technology research unit, was recently awarded best logistics innovation at the Port of the Future conference (Assises du port du future).

What makes Channel 5 so special? For starters, it features an artificial intelligence engine developed in collaboration with List, a CEA Tech institute specialising in smart digital systems. Channel 5 detects problems and instantly suggests alternatives to cut down port congestion. “Terminal operators, port authorities, road hauliers, shipping agents and freight forwarders will all directly benefit from this new service, as well as the city as a whole — and especially drivers — who will see a drop in traffic around the terminals”, says MGI.

Leveraging data to boost port efficiency

Channel 5 will act as an information sensor and combine information from MGI’s CCS with data from numerous sources likely to disrupt cargo flow, such as weather forecasts, nearby traffic, handling equipment breakdowns, labour issues at terminals — including strikes — and estimated volumes of incoming cargo. Next, the system will compare this information with a catalogue of operations-based rules to assess how smoothly port operations are running and determine which parties could be impacted. The system will then instantly suggest actions to mitigate the problems.

According to Christophe Reynaud, head of Innovation at MGI, Channel 5 is an unprecedented service for companies in the port logistics sector: “Sometimes operators choose less efficient options because they lack the time or capability to manage or analyse vast amounts of data. Our system’s AI engine will reduce operator workloads by recommending the best solution based on accurate, up-to-date data.”

Implementation schedule for Marseille-Fos

Channel 5 is currently at the proof of concept phase. One of the two container terminal operators at Fos and engineers from CEA Tech are working together with Seayard to analyse system performance. This work should be completed sometime next year. Channel 5 will then be available as a Ci5 add-on (Ci for cargo intelligence; 5 for the five modes of transportation). Setup for MGI’s new system is scheduled to be completed for the Marseille-Fos port’s CCS in early Q2 2018. “New technologies enable users to track cargo no matter where it is. Combined with MGI’s continuous quest for more efficient and innovative supply chain logistics, these technologies are driving the development of the Ci5 concept. They have also inspired its corporate vision to use smart systems to connect supply chains so stakeholders have door-to-door cargo visibility and so ports can maintain smooth cargo flows.” According to MGI, Channel 5 can be used at any port, whether it operates on CCS or not.

Original by Vincent Groizeleau, translated and adapted by Amanda N. Williams