Container Management: Octopi Expands General Cargo Functionality

December 28, 2019

Octopi expands general cargo functionality to benefit traditionally underserved market

Reproduced with the permission of CM as published in the December 2019 edition

Navis’ Octopi terminal operating system (TOS), in response to feedback from its customers, has expanded its offering to include new features and updates for general and mixed cargo terminal operators. Some of these new features include expanded stripping and stuffing functionality, tallying capabilities, overland cargo tracking and new general cargo-focused key performance indicators (KPIs) for the Octopi Dashboard.

Martin Bardi, VP of global sales at Octopi, told CM: “Clearly in this market that we operate – the small and medium-sized facilities – general cargo is a big component. I would say that all of our customers, to a greater or lesser extent, provide stuffing, stripping services even loading or unloading of general cargo and so general cargo is a vital part of our product and the market that we serve.”

The expansion of Octopi’s general cargo capabilities are part of a broader effort to extend the benefits of the TOS’ world-class container shipping functionality to terminals managing other types of cargo. In order to achieve this, Octopi has started to add features and functionality that are requested by its customers to better handle exceptions or certain situations that are presented to them within the system.

Holden Lewis, Navis’ marketing manager, said: “One of the greatest strengths of Octopi at this stage is that it has an agility of a start-up but with the resources and expertise of a much larger, more established company so as we expand its functionality we have the very strong benefit of being able to listen to the customer feedback with the nimbleness you just don’t really see in this industry very often…

"Our developers can take that input into serious consideration in a way that many larger companies often cannot. While larger organisations care very much about customer feedback, it often takes longer for that feedback to be put into practice given the size and scale of these organisations when compared to a company like Octopi."

The new features are available to all of Octopi’s customers and, although based on customer feedback, are not created as “one-on-one bespoke features” that are beneficial to select customers and not very useful for others.

Navis has noted that in the traditionally underserved market of smaller to mid-size terminals, a problem that one facility has is Octopi’s easy-to-use user interface has resulted in some of its customers becoming very familiar with the system, and thus becoming experts, that are able to provide a good insight into features that may need to be improved or added.

Launched in 2015, Octopi is a cloud-based TOS that was developed exclusively for container and mixed cargo terminals with throughputs around 100,000 teu per year. Navis, which also develops its N4 TOS, acquired the Octopi TOS in March 2019 and sees it as a complementary product to its existing system rather than a competitor because it is designed for a much different market.

Bardi added: “We know that we don’t want to make Octopi into N4 because we already have N4, so the idea is for Octopi to serve a market that has been traditionally underserved in a sense that it has always been a challenge for many terminals to implement a new TOS due to the costs and resources associated with this. Our aim at Octopi is to simplify this by providing a cost effective solution that is easy to implement.”

N4 is very beneficial for larger, more complex terminals and can be quite difficult to navigate for users used to a simpler system or perhaps no TOS at all. On the other hand, Octopi is much better suited for a terminal that has a very streamlined, simple operation which, while more likely to be a smaller terminal, can also include facilities with a throughput of around 500,000 teu. Its simple and easy-to-use user interface comes in handy when Octopi is signed on to implement the TOS in a terminal that has never had one before.

Octopi is working with a terminal in Florida with an annual teu of 95,000 that was previously moving and tracking containers using another product which, while somewhat effective, lacked many features included in Octopi that are vital to meeting their efficiency goals. The aim is to go live with Octopi in early 2020 in order to improve inventory accuracy and operational efficiency as well as to provide better visibility to stakeholders both inside and outside of the organisation.

The Florida terminal has utilised Navis’ services before and is currently using the N4 system, along with MACS3 on their ships and Stowman for stowage planning at its facility in West Palm Beach in Florida.

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