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Port Authority Valencia

Port Authority of Valencia

Automation of access gates in the Port of Valencia, incorporating Megaports radiation detection devices and paperless Customs release system.Port of Valencia, Spain

Valenciaport, comprising the ports of Valencia, Sagunto and Gandia, is one of the largest and most important maritime cargo gateways in Spain and the Mediterranean, with an annual throughput of nearly 4.5 million TEU of container traffic and 66 million tonnes of cargo.

The Port Authority of Valencia (PAV) commissioned Orbita Ingeniería to automate operations at Valencia’s Southern Access, the common control point through which all container and bulk cargo trucks pass when entering and exiting the different port terminals.

Allied with the installation of radioactive cargo detection systems as part of the US SLD Megaports programme, the specific brief was to fully automate the exit process at the Southern Access. On average, 1200-1500 trucks leave the port daily through this control point. Before the project, exit processes were manually controlled by means of a document scanning procedure in up to three exit lanes, requiring constant staff presence at the gates.

PAV’s brief covered the design and control engineering of an exit lane automation system, integrated both with the Megaports radiation detection portals and the Spanish Tax Agency Customs office system, so as to eliminate operator intervention in the process.


In order to meet PAV’s requirements, Orbita developed a customised gate process, sharing information and collaborating with the National Laboratories of the US Department of Energy in order to integrate the Megaports systems with the Valencia Port Community System (PCS) and enable a fully-automated Customs operation.

Orbita carried out all of the electrical and control engineering for the project, as well as managing all of the systems integration for the access system, associated information management and transfer sub-systems.

Siemens PLCs were used to manage the automatic lane system, allowing for fail-safe distributed control. These were combined with tactile HMI systems, such as platforms for operator supervision and intervention, plus an online data retrieval system and a further system for exchanging information with the tax agency.

With the system now successfully in place, any vehicle and cargo load that is approved through the automated Customs system is granted access to Spanish territory without the need for any further administrative processing at the access point itself. Compared with the previous system, requiring staff constantly in attendance in three lanes, five lanes can now be controlled by a single on-site operator focused on managing incidents and exceptions.

Project Summary

  • Automation of the port authority truck exit gates at Valencia, allowing for efficient, safe and rapid release of import loads through one of the leading Spanish and Mediterranean trade gateways
  • Integration of automated gate system with Megaports radiation detection programme and Spanish Customs system to create a real-time paperless release process for import traffic
  • Five exit lanes designed to operate both in automated unmanned and manual mode, with the automated option allowing outgoing vehicles be processed in less than 1 minute
  • Design and execution of all processes, electrical and communications systems, plus systems integration, including: 
    • Data retrieval system for the truck exit point
    • Information transfer system between the different automation technologies (OCR/LPR/PLC) and Customs data processing systems
    • Tactile interfaces for information processing by port staff
    • Data archive and performance analysis tool 
  • Decentralised control designed for simpler, easier maintenance
  • Traffic floodgate system to ensure only one vehicle per lane at any time
  • Overall engineering of automated truck exit point

Project Results Summary

  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • Faster release of import cargo
  • Reduced staffing requirements
  • Fully automated Customs authorisation process
  • Paperless integration of business and government processes



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