International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has invested more than 900 million (US$20 million) in information technology (IT) for its flagship Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in the last 10 years.  


The investments in technology are meant to "crisis-proof" the terminal, safeguard shipments and system processes, maximize the efficiency of its operations and maintain ICTSI's world-class brand of customer service, says Christian R. Gonzalez, ICTSI executive vice president.


5G technology upgrades


Setting the stage for future technology and digital service deployments at MICT, ICTSI partnered with PLDT last year for the rollout of 5G at the terminal.


ICTSI noted that the 5G technology is an important cornerstone of MICT's journey towards becoming the first smart port in the Philippines.


Other 5G-integrated projects in the pipeline include truck driver messaging, remote safety monitoring using intelligent surveillance systems, and remote crane monitoring using Internet of Things devices and sensors – all of which are aimed at improving the safety and efficiency of port operations while reducing foot traffic inside the terminal.


In 2015, ICTSI also launched the Terminal Appointment Booking System (TABS) at MICT to facilitate the seamless flow of cargo in and out of the port.  


The MICT is currently working on the TABS Manifesting System, which automatically captures container data and truck plate numbers during the booking process. Once the system is deployed, drivers no longer have to input anything in the terminal kiosks upon their arrival. 


ICTSI noted that a new MICT app is also currently under development designed to give port users access to several services like Track & Trace across multiple ICTSI terminals, online payment, and eventually TABS booking. 


It will also include features like GPS location and ETA, geofenced gate-in, and yard locations for drivers.

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Uninterrupted operation during Covid


"During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICTSI's investments in technology-driven solutions were key to MICT's uninterrupted operation despite the nationwide lockdowns that threatened the country's supply chain," ICTSI said in its release, adding that these technologies helped keep the terminal functioning and open for business 24/7.


MICT's online payment system enabled customers to process their transactions without physically going to the terminal.


"The billing process at MICT was not affected by the lockdowns as customers started using the online payment system. From 30%, the system's adoption rate grew to 100% as clients realized they can conveniently and safely transact with us without going to the port," Gonzalez added.


A similar payment system is also currently being developed for NorthPort, Subic Bay International Terminals, and Mindanao Container Terminal — scheduled for launch within the year. 


Aside from launching an online payment system, the MICT is gearing up to launch its online examination viewing portal pending approval from the Philippine Department of Agriculture which will enable brokers to observe the Bureau of Customs' examination of containers without being physically present at the terminal. 


"ICTSI will continue to take advantage of new technologies to push our efficiencies for the benefit of our customers," the ICTSI executive added.