The more traffic you handle, the greater the potential for delays. When Ports America Chesapeake began planning for expansion, a major concern was the need to keep the increased traffic flowing. METTLER TOLEDO delivered a vehicle weighing solution that maintains traffic flow by providing maximum reliability.
Ports America is the largest independent port terminal operator in North America, with nearly 90 years of experience running American seaports. In January 2010, Ports America Chesapeake began a 50-year lease operating the Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore. Day-to-day operations at the terminal, which had previously been run by a state agency, are now handled by Ports America Chesapeake. The company’s partnership with the state provides advantages for both parties.
Because of the long-term lease, Ports America can make the investments necessary
to expand the port’s productivity. The goal is to make this historic American port the most competitive shipping facility on the East Coast. The State of Maryland expects to benefit from the expansion through economic growth that will create jobs and increase tax revenues.
Ports America Chesapeake plans to increase the port’s capacity substantially over the next few years. When the expansion project started, the Seagirt Terminal had three berths for loading and unloading container ships. Almost immediately, Ports America began constructing a fourth berth that will make Baltimore one of only two eastern seaports capable of handling large Super Post Panamax container ships. These large container ships will begin arriving at East Coast ports when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014.
The Ports America Chesapeake expansion plan creates impressive opportunities for business growth throughout the State of Maryland. According to Mark Schmidt, Ports America Terminal Manager, “What we are doing now to expand capacity at the port will lead to more business investment in the region due to the increased importing and exporting capabilities. It is an investment in the business future of the State of Maryland.”
The expansion project also includes plans to make the terminal more profitable by improving efficiency. The terminal currently handles about 2,200 truck transactions each day. It averages 30 minutes per single move (a truck picking up a container) and 60 minutes per double move (a truck bringing in one container and taking out another). According to assessments by independent shipping lines, the Seagirt Terminal averages 36 crane moves per hour, the fastest on the east coast.
Maintaining this impressive productivity will become more challenging as the port’s capacity expands. The truck scales that weigh inbound and outbound vehicles will need to handle the increased traffic. If a scale becomes a bottleneck, it can slow down operations throughout the port. It is essential for the port’s scales to weigh trucks quickly and reliably without unplanned downtime.
To keep the nine inbound truck lanes running smoothly, Ports America Chesapeake has invested in advanced weighing technology. Over the past two years, it has purchased five new METTLER TOLEDO truck scales equipped with POWERCELL® PDX® load cells. These load cells use a unique predictive diagnostics system to monitor performance and identify potential problems before they cause weighing errors or downtime. The POWERCELL PDX load cell network further increases reliability by eliminating junction boxes, which are the most frequent cause of scale failure.
Ports America Chesapeake also decided to upgrade a truck scale that is used by an on-site CSX rail operation. METTLER TOLEDO equipped this existing scale with POWERCELL PDX load cells. The upgrade is a cost-effective way to give an older scale the benefit of the latest weighing technology.
Keeping information flowing can be as important as keeping traffic flowing. The port uses a two-tier system to transmit information about vehicle weighing transactions. Weighing terminals at the inbound truck scales send their data to master terminals in a control center located 500 feet away.
METTLER TOLEDO provides regular preventive maintenance to keep the truck scales performing accurately and reliably. Combined with the advanced technology of POWERCELL PDX load cells, this will help the Seagirt Terminal maintain productivity as its capacity increases.