Safety first on the docks at ICO International Car Operators

Digital technology is used to ensure that quay traffic is as safe as possible.

ICO Antwerp

We were looking for a technology partner that could answer our complex question with a top-quality tracking solution.

ICO, or International Car Operators, is a major player worldwide in the handling and storage of roll-on/roll-off cargo. This mainly concerns the loading and unloading of new vehicles, construction equipment and heavy lifting devices. They also offer services related to vehicle processing, ship agency, customs formalities, and the complete 'door to door' logistics. Through terminals in the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, they handle more than 2 million cars annually for the world's leading car brands and RoRo shipping companies.

Commit to safety on the quays

For unloading and loading, ICO deploys drivers who continuously drive in and out of the vessel, to and from a predestined parking location on the port site. When a vehicle is delivered to a parking lot, the drivers are picked up by a driver's van which takes them back to the ship. In order to waste as little time as possible, the van drives into the ship until it is close to the next vehicle to be picked up.

This constant driving back and forth by a large group of drivers through the general activity in and around the ship, combined with the enormous time pressure to unload and/or load a ship within the predefined time period, resulted in unsafe working conditions on the quays. For instance, it was common to drive with the side sliding door open so that the drivers could quickly get on or off. Driving behaviour also left much to be desired, with speeding, abrupt braking, hard acceleration or very sharp turns, which demanded a lot from the engine and the tyres. A fatal accident in a 30km/h zone was the proverbial straw that made ICO decide to change course by using IoT technology.

They were looking for a smart way to maximise safety at the quays, while at the same time optimising the logistical operation. An additional challenge proved to be finding suitable hardware that would guarantee sufficient GPS reception inside the metal belly of the ship for permanent data recording. The constant switching between driving up and down puts a heavy load on the system, so ICO wanted to be assured of high-end units they could rely on.

The right partner for geotracking

In their search for a track & trace system, ICO quickly came across All-Connects. The briefing was very extensive and clear. They wanted to collect as much metadata as possible from various parameters:

Parameters for the driver's van

Location tracking:
Knowing where each driver van is located at the terminal

Speeds on the quay:
Create a heat map by means of geofence, in order to be able to place speed cameras in a more targeted way to register speed violations.

Door detection with alarm function (from 10km/h)
Knowing when a vehicle is driving with the door open

Driving behaviour of drivers
Abrupt braking, acceleration, turning

Distances travelled
Total distance travelled per month, per vehicle

Reporting of defects or damage to vehicles
Is the vehicle still roadworthy in terms of tyre profiles, oil, service interval, test certificate, ....

Parameters for teams

Driver identification
Who drives which van when? Registration must be possible via the well-known Alfapass

Driving cycle (collection - delivery - collection) can be calculated to optimise productivity and staffing levels

Fuel consumption
Comparison of fuel consumption to raise awareness of more economical driving behaviour

Given the complexity and high quality requirements, we proposed the S-connect: a robust high-end device with door contact, buzzer and alpha-pass reader. This reader was developed specifically at the request of ICO, and is now part of our standard driver identification keys.

Safety first with closed doors

The S-connect unit is connected to the vehicle's on-board computer and receives a message from the door contact sensor every time a door is opened or closed. If a driver exceeds the maximum permitted speed, this is recorded and the driver receives an audible warning via the buzzer. The S-connect further captures the G-forces data during driving and transmits all the collected metadata to the online management system LIVE.connects.

Geofence used to create heat map

The geofencing software of All-Connects is used to create a virtual fence around a geographical area by means of GPS. In this way, certain areas can be designated as a 'GO' or 'NO GO' zone. When a vehicle, person or object equipped with the Geofencing software crosses the boundary line, an immediate alert is sent via SMS or email to the person responsible. On the LIVE.connects platform, the person in charge can see all recorded speeds of all minibuses in an overview and on a map. This heat map forms the basis for the targeted deployment of mobile speed cameras to record violations on camera as evidence.

Automated vehicle inspection

Whereas previously maintenance and vehicle inspections had to be carried out manually, vehicle inspections are now carried out periodically via an automatic alert to the driver, who is then notified to carry out a vehicle inspection within a specified deadline. Through a handy LIVE.connects app on the own smartphone, the driver goes through the standard inspection list and adds comments and, if relevant, damage photos. The fleet manager can check the inspection reports per vehicle on the LIVE.connects desktop application and take action where necessary.

Geofence also useful for cycle time calculation

We also use the geofence zones to calculate cycle time automatically. This measurable data about the number of cycles/hour driven on average and where possible bottlenecks or idle time periods occur, provides the necessary insights to improve the planning in terms of staff deployment at critical times.

In practice

ICO International Car Operators has been working with our hardware and software for 4 years now, since 2016. The terminal manager, Johan Lockefeer, receives a daily report with:

1|Number of speeding tickets

2|Number of cycles per hour

3|Weekly kilometres driven

Through these reports and statistics, he can easily compare and analyse all information and take the necessary action. After four years, he can confirm that the implementation of the All-Connects system has significantly improvedthe safety score and reduced the maintenance and repair costs.

Geofence zones for increased safety on ICO's quay

Geofence zones for increased safety on ICO's quay

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