Maher Terminals said it “has turned the corner” on the troubled implementation of a new operating system, and that the Port of New York and New Jersey’s largest container terminal will be ready when its volume returns to normal levels.
Since Maher encountered difficulties with a new Navis terminal operating system in early June, the terminal has had to subcontract ship calls to other terminals, which at times have struggled to keep up with the additional business.
Port drayage companies have complained that drivers have been stuck for hours in long lines at terminal gates. Ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd said it expects delays at New York-New Jersey to continue till mid-September, and that customers should consider alternative ports.
Two vessel services that normally call at Maher have been diverted to Port Newark Container Terminal and New York Container Terminal for the next several weeks. Maher CEO Gary Cross said those services are due to return to Maher after Labor Day and that the terminal expects to handle them and other business without problems.
Maher and Oakland-based Navis issued a joint statement saying service at the terminal “has returned to acceptable levels during the last several weeks, albeit at reduced volume. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, this steady progress has now put the terminal in a position to handle all of its business and transition to normalized operations.
“After extensive testing and root cause analysis by all of the stakeholders, along with important feedback from ILA users of the system, it was determined that real-time interactions between the various system components deployed in the container yard were not operating as designed,” Maher and Navis said.
Some of the system’s automated components were temporarily scaled back last week and will be restored on “on a controlled basis,” the companies said.
Cross said the system’s startup problems centered on the transfer of information between the terminal’s mainframe computer and wireless-equipped straddle carriers in the terminal’s container yard. Maher and Navis modified the system to reduce dependence on the wireless network, he said.
With the modifications, Maher will be ready when full volume returns, Cross said. “We are confident that our modified plan is the right strategy for a permanent return to the volume and service levels our customers expect from Maher Terminals,” he said.
The Navis N4 system, which replaced an older system that Maher developed in-house, will remain the terminal’s core operating system, Cross emphasized.
He said the N4 system is designed to be reconfigured quickly to accommodate operational needs and handle expected growth in container volume and vessel sizes. Navis has installed the N4 system in numerous other terminals worldwide.
Maher has been providing extended gate hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., for all truck moves at its main terminal and empty-container and chassis yards. “We’ll stay with those hours through the summer and then re-evaluate,” Cross said.