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    in sharp images of the inside of containers



    Terminal mobile X-ray unit goes into operation in Bremerhaven

    High-tech comes to the customs office at the Bremerhaven container terminal: at six workstations each equipped with three monitors, customs officers will soon be able to screen containers 24 hours a day and seven days a week thanks to the “terminal mobile X-ray unit” project developed and implemented in cooperation with EUROGATE.

    The fact that customs inspects containers is nothing new. In fact, a system has been in operation at the Weddewarden customs office for the past 15 years. It allows customs officers to closely monitor containers without having to unpack them. However, the technology is now obsolete and too slow – containers are frequently delayed for long periods of time, which not only potentially means time lost, but also higher costs for customers. A while ago, the customs authority approached EUROGATE and suggested building a stationary screening unit on the site of the former Carl Schurz barracks

    Jörg Liermann, Head of Service/IT Coordination at EUROGATE Container Terminal Bremerhaven (CTB) remembers: “We rejected the idea of a large stationary unit outside of the terminal pretty quickly because it didn’t meet our customers’ need for rapid clearance and would have generated higher costs.” In close consultation with the authorities, we soon came up with an alternative plan to build a mobile unit on the terminal site.

    The project was implemented in close collaboration between the Bundesfinanzdirektion Nord as the authority responsible for Bremerhaven’s customs office and several EUROGATE divisions (Remain, EUROGATE Technical Services, IT Coordination, IT/Holding). An area covering around 13,000 square metres, roughly equivalent to the size of two football pitches, within sight of the customs office in the BLG Coldstore building was equipped accordingly. Torsten Schumacher, Head of Shore Operations at CTB explains: “We lay cable ducts, routed cables to the customs office, installed two WLAN masts and created a number of lanes where the boxes can be parked while waiting to be screened.” 36 container platforms on which the containers can be placed were bought.

    The core of the facility is a special truck that has been extensively modified by a Chinese manufacturer. Except for the driver’s cab, the Volvo truck bears little resemblance to a normal lorry. Behind the cab there is now an extendible X-ray unit that encloses the containers like an upturned U and X-rays them from all sides. The images are fed via WLAN over the Internet and transmitted directly onto the monitors in the customs evaluation office.

    In constructing the new facility, all stakeholders had common objectives. Liermann: “The idea was to bring down drayage costs and significantly reduce container clearance times, so as not to hold up subsequent shipments, as was previously the case. Both objectives were met! Furthermore, in contrast to an expensive stationary installation, a mobile unit presents the possibility to cooperate with the customs authority on future innovative technical developments. And last but not least, the system must be safe to operate.”

    None of this entails additional work for EUROGATE staff, because the customs office transmits any requests regarding the containers to be scanned directly into the operations program. “The system works and, once it has been screened, the container can usually be further processed and shipped the same day,” Schumacher says.