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Port Of Wilmington Tech Updates Aim To Increase Efficiency

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Jun 6, 2024
N.C. State Ports Authority Chief Operating Officer Doug Vogt spoke on plans to upgrade gate processing at the Port of Wilmington to decrease turn times for delivery trucks, among other technical updates. (File photo)
The Port of Wilmington is completing technology updates in its warehouses and strengthening its crane software network following concerns from the federal government about Chinese crane manufacturers, port officials said last month during a North Carolina State Ports Authority board of directors meeting.
 
At the meeting, Doug Vogt, the port's chief operating officer detailed an IT update involving a warehouse automation project in Wilmington. The project will equip the port’s warehouse container freight stations with tablet-based web applications, among other plans. Work on the project is expected to wrap up this summer.
 
The project aims to increase efficiency at the Wilmington port, which was named North America's No. 1 most productive port for 2022. The project will allow the port's general cargo customers using its North Gate to receive processing improvements like electronic dock receipts, delivery orders and gate bypass capabilities so that delivery trucks can go straight to their point of work, according to the presentation.

"Through these improvements, we have also expanded our connectivity to our general cargo warehouses, which ultimately streamlines the process for our customers and makes our operations more efficient," Elly Cosgrove, N.C. Ports senior communications manager wrote in an email to the Business Journal. 
 
After the federal government raised concerns about cybersecurity in the nation’s ports in February, the Port of Wilmington operations team also implemented firewalls in its crane network.
 
In addition to pledging to manufacture port cranes domestically, the White House and U.S. Coast Guard established new requirements for ports across the country, including the Port of Wilmington.
 
Cranes at Wilmington’s port are among the hundreds manufactured in China. However, the cranes use software from a Sweden-based company. The Coast Guard conducted a vulnerability assessment on the hardware and software at the Port of Wilmington one year ago, according to port officials.
 
The port’s hardening of firewalls in its crane network includes password changes, mitigating known vulnerabilities, eliminating connections to public internet and minimizing privileged accounts.
 
Port operations employees also undergo quarterly cybersecurity group training sessions, according to Vogt’s presentation, as well as cyberattack drills.
 
“We're just doing ongoing training in cybersecurity awareness with employees, making sure that we hit our milestones on a quarterly basis,” Vogt told the board. “So we're not just leaving that on an annual basis, but pushing the security training with everybody who's using our system.”
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