AET

Background blocks

For a large multipurpose port terminal like Antwerp Euroterminal (AET), optimal connectivity is essential to support operations. Fifteen years ago the organisation suffered from an unstable WiFi network. Dalosy replaced the network with a solid narrowband solution combined with the right scanners. This raised stability and operational efficiency to a higher level. A close working relationship started and Dalosy has since grown to become the point of contact for robust and reliable Enterprise Mobility solutions.

About AET

Antwerp Euroterminal nv is the largest multi-purpose terminal in Europe. It is also the home port of the Grimaldi Group. AET specialises in various types of cargo and handles breakbulk, containers, project cargo, heavy lifts, vehicles and all kinds of other RoRo units on a daily basis. AET’s location on the Left Bank in the port of Antwerp is ideal for loading and unloading seagoing and inland vessels, train carriages and trucks. AET also provides a logistics platform for various car manufacturers. Currently, the terminal has an area of 150 hectares and a quay length of 2.2 kilometres. Every year, it handles over 200,000 containers, 750,000 vehicles and 230,000 tonnes of general cargo.

A competent partner with port experience

It goes without saying that reliable mobile connectivity is a must for port terminal operations. That is how AET came to Dalosy. At the time, Dalosy advised them on a network based on narrowband. This technology guaranteed very broad coverage and a robust connection with only a few antennas. The mobile communication was controlled via special middleware. This ensured that even with connection problems the sessions were never interrupted. After a proof of concept under the technical guidance of Dalosy, a successful installation of the solution followed. Subsequently, Dalosy also provided the right scanning equipment.

"At the time, we relied on our own Wi-Fi network. Of course, that was not yet as advanced and stable as today's standards. The persistent connection problems and the inconveniences that came with it made us look for a more stable alternative almost 15 years ago. We realised, of course, that a stable solution for an area of 300 football pitches was no easy matter."

Mark Engels, CTO at AET

For years, this narrowband solution worked flawlessly. When the technology became obsolete, the network was renewed a few years ago. The increasing demand for bandwidth at the terminal and the various third-party equipment prompted AET to invest heavily in a solid WiFi set-up.

A specific additional challenge in the business is that vehicle manufacturers regularly add an extra character to the barcode. Mark Engels: “If we read out such codes, they will not correspond to the data in the database. That is why we – together with Dalosy – have configured the devices in such a way that the data is still usable, independent of changes to the barcode by the various manufacturers. Dalosy’s technical support is also important for that kind of thing.”

"All these years, Dalosy continued to provide us with the best industrial scanners in the market. We can safely say that Dalosy has become a partner in that field. A big advantage is that the reseller has a lot of experience in the Antwerp port area. This means that we always get scanners specialized for our environment. Dalosy also has well knowledge of the software on the devices. Furthermore, we can always call on the after-sales service for trouble shooting in the event of any malfunctions or for additional advice. The technical team continues to help us.”

Mark Engels, CTO at AET

Connectivity in practice

From its central Terminal Operating System (TOS), AET continuously sends orders to the employees in the field. With mobile handheld terminals (HHTs) and vehicle mounted terminals (VMTs) they register the execution of their tasks and all transactions are sent back to the back office in real-time. This allows AET to efficiently manage and monitor operational business processes. AET deploys around thirty VMTs and fifty HHTs every day. AET swears by the devices of Zebra Technologies. The manufacturer’s Omnii XT 15 hand scanners had become a fixture in the field. “We recently switched to its successor: MC93 hand scanners from Zebra. Our users are so enthusiastic about it that we will be purchasing more. This model runs on Android and is completely up to date. The roaming is flawless thanks to the optimisations of Android versus the outdated Windows CE. Even scanning a barcode through a blinded window works flawlessly. Moreover, the bandwidth between the hand scanners and our servers has more than doubled,” says Mark Engels. “Furthermore, we recently purchased a number of robust ET56 tablets. We use them, for example, when handling batches of wood or rolls of paper.”

Updates