Brazil’s Port of Suape has seen decades of steady growth since its founding in 1978. Located 25 miles from Recife, the nation’s fourth-largest city, the facility began shipping ethanol fuel for state-owned petroleum company Petrobrás in 1983, and by 1986, it had added facilities for handling containers and solid bulk cargo. Today, it serves as a distribution hub for hundreds of companies around the world, moving over 23.6 million tons of cargo annually.
But that rapid expansion also created problems for the port. One of those problems was severe truck congestion. As cargo volumes grew, truck drivers began complaining about the long lines and wait times—sometimes days—to complete their transactions with terminal companies. Port authorities were becoming concerned about the disruptive congestion, and the port struggled to comply with the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
That led port leaders to go looking for a way to bring order to the operation—specifically, for a way to control access and safely streamline the flow of trucks to and from the piers and port facilities. They found a solution with Pegasus Technology, a Recife-based systems integrator, and its partner Axis Communications, a Swedish provider of video surveillance and intelligent analytics applications.
After consulting with their client, the two companies designed a system to streamline the flow of trucks through the port without compromising port security. The solution relies on a network of 13 bullet-style AXIS P14 Series Network cameras that record the license plate of every vehicle entering the port complex. Operators then use the captured license plate images to identify every vehicle and driver within their primary area and to determine which terminals they are associated with and when they are scheduled to enter a particular terminal.
The night-and-day cameras feed data into Pegasus software that interprets license plate images, schedules pickups, controls access, and manages priorities. Armed with that information, port operators can now direct cargo trucks to secure staging areas at assigned entry times, significantly reducing congestion and decreasing cargo load times, the port says.
The system works by matching each license plate with a timed entry assignment and displaying the clearance report on LED panels alongside the road. As drivers leave the staging area, they check the display. If they don’t see that their plate has been cleared for access, they’re instructed to enter a turnaround lane to wait their turn.
At the main gatehouse, there’s a second checkpoint, where additional Axis cameras capture license plates. The system verifies that the truck associated with that plate has arrived within an hour of its scheduled entry time and then automatically opens the gate.
In addition to controlling truck access, the port uses the system to handle entry authorization for all the employees, visitors, and service vehicles that pass through Suape’s main gate. In total, the cameras log about 15,000 license plates per day.
Since adopting the Pegasus/Axis solution, port authorities have been able to register and assign credentials, authorizations, and schedules to every person and vehicle before it enters Suape’s gates. Operators now routinely use the license plate captures to identify and track vehicles and drivers as they load and offload cargo in the complex to prevent them from entering restricted areas.
While studies are still underway to determine the port’s return on investment, port directors say they have been pleased with the greater control afforded by the new integrated system.
“Today, we possess an organized register of all the vehicles that access the primary area of the port,” Pablo Teixeira, executive coordinator of informational technology of Port Suape, said in a case study describing the project. “We’re able to integrate operations between the staging courtyard and the terminal companies within Suape’s complex, which helps to minimize congestion and speed up operations.”