Halterm’s CAD$20 million investment in two new container cranes is closely allied to a drive for growth, performance and process excellence

Halterm’s CAD$20 million investment in two new container cranes is closely allied to a drive for growth, performance and process excellence

Established in 1969, Halterm Container Terminal Limited has made a name for itself offering fast and supremely flexible service to global shipping line customers, the masters of the largest containerships in the world. Halterm Limited is located in Halifax, Canada, a harbour with natural deep water and a perfect location to handle ultra large container ships with a terminal capability as yet unmatched by other east coast ports.


Ashley Dinning, the current CEO and Managing Director of Halterm Limited, has been in the industry for 37 years and has worked all over the world.  With his Business Degree, focused on Transport & Logistics, and an MBA in Maritime Management he has studied at Harvard and UCLA, bringing a deep industry knowledge and expertise to the role at Halterm.


Sustainable Investments


To stay ahead of the competition, Halterm Container Terminal Limited has spent 20 million dollars in the last year to install two new container cranes.  These cranes can handle the largest container ships in the world and set new standards in safety and energy efficiency. They are also cheaper to maintain.


With ships steaming slower to conserve fuel as prices continue to rise, ports are under increasing pressure to provide faster turnaround times and with these new cranes, Halterm is in position to discharge and load vessels at the rate of 30 containers per hour per crane, or a massive 120 containers per hour with all four cranes working simultaneously. 


Technological advances have also played a role in the success of Halterm. Dinning explains that every truck that arrives with a container passes through a building lined with camera arrays designed to capture images of the truck and its cargo from every angle. The cameras also identify the container number and the license plate of the truck so that when the truck moves forward to the Scale, or weigh station, Halterm’s terminal operating software has already updated the container records allowing for faster processing at the gate. “The unique thing for us is that while in other terminals here in Halifax and across North America, all the cameras are sitting out in the open, ours are protected by purpose-built shelters, so when it is raining or snowing our cameras and equipment maintain the efficiency of our gate processes and the trucks continue to roll, despite bad weather,” Dinning explains, “This sets us apart from our competition.” 


Allied to the physical redevelopment of its gate processes Halterm has also installed brand new terminal operating system software so that the company and its customers can manage the container inventory and track crane and truck movements in the yard more easily.  With the new software, Halterm is operations ready, offering guaranteed berth, crane and labour to its customers whenever a ship arrives. To help keep to this guarantee, an extensive preventative maintenance program is in place and equipment is kept at a high state of readiness to meet customer demands.


The company has a very quick turnaround time for trucks in the container yard as well, averaging 18-20 minutes from the time of arrival to the time of truck departure.  Compared to reports from other terminals in North America, where average truck turnaround time might be held at about an hour, Halterm offers customers clear advantages.


People Management and Safety


In addition to implementing a series of changes to how Halterm monitors its operations, Dinning has also expanded the employee pool to strengthen the overall skill set of the company.  “I’ve created new positions here within the facility and brought leaders in their fields from all over the world to fill those positions,” Dinning continues, “By bringing in a mixture of those with talents among the existing skill sets and those with alternative experience we are actively developing our team and can actually instill new methodologies and operating practices here.”  Halterm is proud of the wealth of experience among its many long-service employees and together with the mix of new people that have worked all over the world, has a great formula for supporting service delivery to its customers.


Safety is also a key focus of the organization.  Dinning describes one particular piece of equipment Halterm offers to increase safety in the workplace and on the highways.  He states, “We don’t want a truck leaving here with snow and ice on top of the container because it could present a real hazard if it starts to break loose as the truck is moving. To address this we have installed a snow clearing machine that truckers can use as they are departing the terminal to plow snow and ice from the roof of the container so when it joins the highway it’s as safe as it can possibly be.”   Halterm continues to focus significant effort on developing its safety culture and promoting safe working practices on the waterfront.


Continuous Improvement


Halterm continues to grow because it maintains a positive relationship with the waterfront Union in Halifax, the International Longshoremen’s Association, and Dinning states that “they also value our mutual customers and are focused on understanding and meeting customer expectations.”  In the last few months, the top three shipping lines in the world, Maersk Line, CMA CGM and MSC have all looked to develop larger operating alliances and Halterm is a main operating facility for two of these carriers, Maersk and CMA CGM.  The company also partners with ZIM Integrated Shipping Lines, Eimskip and Melfi for mainline operations, supported by Oceanex Shipping and TMSI on the critical regional trades.


Over the next three years, Dinning forecasts more than 30% growth for the company.  He explains that “our three key business goals are business growth, aggressively creating commercial opportunities to generate sustainable long term value, process excellence, driving cost out of the business through operation efficiency and strategic investment, and driving performance, developing and maintaining a highly skilled commercially oriented team with a sense of urgency and a desire to play to win.”  Halterm encourages its’ workforce to employ these goals and use them as their drive to provide the quality service the customers expect.  

Andrew Herriott