ASHDOD HARBOUR – HLS IN ACTION
Some 500 foreign participants at the Homeland Security Conference were recently treated to a demonstration of port security at Israel’s Ashdod Port.
40 km south of Tel Aviv, Ashdod is Israel’s main port, handling 1.9 million tons cargo and 1.2 million TEU container traffic and served more than 2,300 cargo and cruise ships in 2012. Israel Scandinavia Business had a talk with Bernard Ben Ishai, Head of Security and Passenger Traffic at Ashdod Port. He couldn’t tell all, but still had a lot to say about security and efficient port management.
Do you feel that Ashdod is a relevant example for the security needs of Scandinavian port authorities?
Ben Ishai: While it’s true that Scandinavian ports are spared many of the challenges faced by Israeli ports, I believe that our experience is relevant to any port management system. Our most important lessons and insights relate to ensuring maximum security with minimal disruption of port operations. The port is a vital and dynamic business and our goal at the Security Department is to let this business thrive. With the aid of technology and a highly trained staff, we have developed security procedures for both cargo and passenger traffic which strike a balance between economic efficiency and stringent security.
Can you give some examples?
Ben Ishai: Certainly. Our new smart gate system is an excellent example. It is designed to expedite the movement of goods to the port, requiring human intervention only when something is not right. We are the first port to adopt this technology but judging from the interest expressed by foreign port authorities, we definitely won’t be the last. Exporters submit all the relevant details about the cargo and its destination directly to the port online in advance. Shipping agents add information regarding the truck and driver delivering the container. Everything needed to process the cargo at the port is already set and ready even before the goods leave the factory gate.
The process is entirely paperless and in real time and is capable of accommodating last minute changes if necessary. When the truck reaches the port, the gate reads the truck’s licence and the shipment’s file pops up on the gatekeeper’s screen. If there is a discrepancy between what’s on screen and what’s on the ground, the port’s central control and command is alerted and security steps in. The vehicle is immediately taken aside, allowing the other 4,999 trucks arriving that day to be processed without delay.
Another example is the handling of cruise ship passengers. All tourists entering Israel must clear passport control, security and customs before embarking on tour buses in Israel. Since both time and customer service are of the essence, we have developed a process in which passport control and security are performed simultaneously in the passenger terminal. Even the 3000+ passengers arriving on today’s large cruise ships are well on route to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea within an hour of disembarking.
Are you in contact with any Scandinavian ports?
Ben Ishai: We have hosted delegations from Denmark and Finland in the past and at a recent trade fair in Hamburg, I was approached by a Norwegian participant. Foreign port operators have also shown interest in software we’ve developed for registering ship crews. Overall, because our technology and methods are put into practice on a daily basis, we have earned a sound reputation for expertise and credibility. I for one would be interested in continuing to share our experience with Scandinavian ports.