Keeping Ships and Longshore Crews on Schedule


Moving 35-million tonnes of bulk cargo and 22-million tonnes of containerized cargo each year makes the ports along British Columbia’s south coast among the busiest in the world.

With as many as 5,000 active longshore workers across three key ports in the Vancouver and the Lower BC Mainland, the British Columbia Maritime Employers’ Association (BCMEA) recently deployed a new automated staff dispatch system that has made life much easier and shipping much more dependable.

“Our concern was reliability”, says Vahid Farschi is the BCMEA’s I-T Supervisor. “We just published our annual report and we’re pleased to note that our uptime with the system is 99.99 per cent.”

BC ports bring in cargo valued at $172 billion from 160 countries each year. The new system is crucial and so is the technology behind it. When you’re moving close to three million containers a year, he says every minute counts.

“With built in redundancy, when one site is down, another site is up,” says Farschi. “Whether it’s a fire or flood that’s preventing cargo from being handled, we can now accurately notify our labour force to let them know immediately where we need them to be.”

The system uses hardware from Dell Canada and software from Microsoft. It has increased speed and reliability that translates into major savings. Costs are down by 40 per cent, says Farschi, understandable when considering just one hour of downtime can cost the $2-million in lost economic opportunities.

The impressive reliability and the savings earned the project finalist status in ITAC’s 2014 Ingenious Awards, a national celebration of the creative use of technology that helps advance the economy.

Dell Canada, a longtime supporter of Ingenious Awards, is pleased with the operation of the system.

“We’re delighted that BCMEA selected Dell to build their new dispatch system’s architecture. We pride ourselves on listening to our customers’ requirements,” says Dell Canada’s’s Vice President of Commercial Sales, Andre Valiquette. “We’re thrilled the BEMEA’s new dispatch system has helped improve confidence in the Association’s ability to deliver first-class service to Canada’s western ports.”

He said the company is also pleased the project received well-deserved national attention when in was named as a finalist for an Ingenious Award.