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PortXchange concludes successful PilotTracker platform implementation in the Port of Houston


published on 29 March 2022 182 -

PortXchange Products B.V., the Netherlands-based digital solutions provider for predictable and sustainable shipping, is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed the migration of users from the Greater Houston Port Bureau’s (“GHPB”) Harborlights Vessel Tracking System (“Harborlights”) to its proprietary PortXchange PilotTracker (“PilotTracker”) platform.

PilotTracker is the next-generation platform for real-time pilot scheduling and vessel movement information. It was successfully developed in partnership with GHPB and the Houston Pilots six months after the announcement of a five-year digitalization partnership (see also: PortXchange and Greater Houston Port Bureau embark on five-year digitalization partnership, 16th September 2021).

PilotTracker is integrated into the pilot’s booking system, which means that the pilot information is updated in real-time, directly from the source. Essentially, PilotTracker builds upon the existing functionality of the retired Harborlights platform with significant enhancement, including vessel movement information and filtering functionality, port closure status updates, email notifications, booking agent information, extensive vessel information, terminal and berth restrictions and an interactive map with live vessel tracking.      

Important milestone      

PilotTracker allows marine exchanges, port authorities or pilot organizations to share pilot scheduling and vessel movement information to port communities and their customers in the most streamlined and user-friendly manner. The information provided is vital to any participant in the maritime supply chain, whether it be a ship operator focusing on voyage optimization, a terminal operator making optimal berth scheduling decisions, or nautical service provider assigning assets and resources for a job.

Sjoerd de Jager, PortXchange’s managing director, said: “I’d like to thank our key partners: the Greater Houston Port Bureau and the Houston Pilots for a truly collaborative effort. The migration of the users from one system to another is always a challenging change management project, which in this case proved very successful. All the positive responses from the Houston community on the user interface and functionality makes for a very strong, robust and sustainable proposition with a clear added value to the Houston community. We now have an out-of-the-box solution that can be implemented in other ports across the world.”

CAPT Bill Diehl, president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, said: “The port of Houston has grown to be the top U.S. port by trailblazing better processes, infrastructure, and technology. The improved data transparency from PilotTracker increases business predictability, making this an essential step forward for us to remain efficient and globally competitive.”

Capt. Robert Thompson, presiding officer of the Houston Pilots, said: “The Houston Pilots are committed to providing safe and efficient transits for the port of Houston maritime industry. We have been providing our pilot schedule information to the community through Harborlights for over 15 years, and we are pleased to continue sharing this information through PilotTracker. Data sharing is essential to be able to coordinate these complex operations with our industry partners efficiently, but more importantly, safely.”

Terminals and agents subscribing to PilotTracker already represent 62% of vessel arrivals in the port of Houston. PortXchange and GHPB plan to invite additional parties to the PilotTracker platform that would also benefit from real-time pilot scheduling and vessel movement information

PortXchange is also working with the GHBP to bring the platform to other ports in the U.S.      Furthermore, PortXchange is seeking to work with other organizations in the U.S. and internationally to create similar benefits to their communities and strengthen their roles.

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