Eliminating data loss and lost productivity due to connectivity issues at PD Ports


INDUSTRY: Maritime 

SOLUTION: StayLinked’s enterprise-grade SmartTE

About StayLinked

StayLinked is the proven market leader in Terminal Emulation for the supply chain industry and continues to drive innovation with the most advanced software solutions available for the warehouse. StayLinked enables customers to easily migrate to state-of-the-art devices, measure and optimize productivity with cutting-edge business intelligence, and interface with ground-breaking technologies in the areas of automation, robotics, and emerging IIoT technologies. For more than two decades, StayLinked has delivered revolutionary software products with unparalleled customer satisfaction and world-class support to hundreds of partners and thousands of customers around the globe.

  The Customer

PD Ports is one of the UK’s major port groups, operating across 11 locations nationwide including Teesport and Port of Hartlepool, Groveport, Felixstowe, and the Isle of Wight. Headquartered in Middlesbrough and employing circa 1,500 people nationwide, PD Ports owns and operates well-connected ports along the East coast of the UK; unlocking key markets in the North, South, Midlands and Scotland and providing access to the hub ports of Europe and further afield.


PD Ports is the Statutory Harbour Authority for a 12-mile jurisdiction along the River Tees with legal responsibility to ensure the safe navigation for vessels and maintenance of the river.

The Challenge

PD Ports had been suffering from on-going and historical connectivity issues between handheld devices and its WMS, at its remote Groveport site near Scunthorpe.

PD Ports had previously deployed traditional terminal emulation (TE) software, combined with an additional product, to try and prevent the connectivity issues.

However, it still faced connectivity challenges as the two products struggled to work together, especially when devices transferred between Wi-Fi and mobile data networks and vice versa.

“Accessing Wi-Fi in some of our external locations is extremely difficult due to insufficient power and ducting, so we are heavily reliant on mobile data coverage. We use numerous mobile data providers but their networks can cause us connectivity issues. Especially when goods are stored inside a warehouse and outside in a field.”

— Rob McGregor, service desk IT manager for PD Ports

The repeated session disconnects were hindering productivity. Workers were regularly losing connections in the middle of a task. Work would be lost and after reconnecting they would have to log in again and restart their workflow. In some cases, the data loss required administration input to rectify the workflow.

The Solution

In early 2023, as a pivotal step in the new support partnership between StayLinked partner OpalTec, and PD Ports, OpalTec visited the Groveport site. This visit aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of PD Ports’ operations and environment. It was crucial for identifying the best technology to address the connectivity challenges causing session disconnects.

“We quickly realised that the connectivity issues between the deployed handheld devices and PD Ports’ warehouse management system (WMS), along with the limitations of the handheld devices, could be solved by StayLinked’s SmartTE and a trial was arranged.”

— James Mellor, OpalTec’s business development manager

StayLinked’s SmartTE terminal emulation software securely connects workers to an organisation’s WMS via StayLinked’s host resident server. Disconnects due to uncontrolled Wi-Fi issues may still occur, but workers’ sessions reside on the StayLinked server and not on the mobile device so connection to the WMS is uninterrupted. A simple reconnect brings the worker straight back to exactly where they were in the workflow without any data loss or the need to involve an IT administrator.

“SmartTE has eliminated data loss and lost productivity due to connectivity issues for PD Ports by elegantly handling its mobile devices roaming and connectivity between different networks.”

— James Mellor, OpalTec’s business development manager

Another feature of SmartTE, which PD Ports was keen to deploy, is its ability to allow companies to optimise workflows by touch-enabling the text on applications more easily and simply than other solutions.

SmartTE allows workers to interact with the touch screen directly without needing to select a keyboard and find the appropriate key or keys. This configuration can be achieved in a considerably shorter amount of time than with other solutions on the marketplace.

Importantly, SmartTE allows its customers to quickly and easily convert legacy ‘green screen’ interfaces into modern, user-friendly graphical displays without, having to touch the enterprise application.

The Results

Elimination of Lost Productivity

Connectivity issues, especially as narrowband networks reach their end of life and there is an increasing need to switch between different networks, are a huge challenge for warehouse and supply chain organisations. A challenge, which some operators do not understand, can be easily solved by StayLinked, due to the architecture of its enterprise-grade SmartTE software.

“Having wasted a lot of time and effort trying to solve our connectivity issues with traditional TE software, the issues remained unsolved. StayLinked’s SmartTE worked immediately and all of our connectivity problems went away! We quickly placed an order for SmartTE with OpalTec once the successful trial had ended.”

— Rob McGregor, service desk IT manager for PD Ports

Increased Productivity

With workers’ sessions residing on the StayLinked server, connection to the WMS is uninterrupted so workers can maintain their workflows even in challenging network environments – dramatically increasing productivity.

Quick and easy conversion of legacy green screen interfaces, without having to touch the enterprise application, enabled by SmartTE, allowed PD Ports to optimise its workflows.

PD Ports benefited from StayLinked and OpalTec’s expertise

PD Ports found OpalTec and StayLinked’s technicians to be extremely knowledgeable which enabled Rob McGregor to meet his connectivity goals. Both companies provided additional value by suggesting the deployment of SmartTE features, such as touch-screen capability, which could be used to reduce time on operational transactions carried out on handheld devices.

“After sales support has also been of the highest level. In short, we have yet to find a better solution than StayLinked’s SmartTE and would fully recommend the implementation of the software to benefit other warehouse and supply chain operations.”

—Rob McGregor, service desk IT manager for PD Ports