South African Customs launches new X-Ray Inspection Facility in Durban

SARS Customs New NII Ste - DurbanSARS Customs recently launched its new X-Ray cargo inspection facility adjacent to the Durban Container Terminal in the Port of Durban. Following the trend as in other countries, SARS has identified non-intrusive inspection capability as part of its ‘tiered’ approach to risk management.

In 2008, SARS introduced its very first mobile x-ray scanner which was located inside the Durban container terminal precinct as part of South Africa’s participation in the US Container Security Initiative (CSI). While it has proven itself in the development of Customs NII capability, its location and lack of integration with other Customs automated tools has limited its success.

The new Customs inspection facility is a step-up in technology and automation – a Nuctech MB 1215HL Relocatable Container/Vehicle Inspection System. It has some significant advantages over the original mobile version namely –

  • An efficient and cost-effective security solution with a relatively small footprint (site size).
  • 6 Mev dual energy X-Ray technology with high penetration (through 330 mm of steel).
  • High throughput of 20-25 units of 40ft container vehicles per hour.
  • A unique modular gantry design which improves system relocatability.
  • Self-shielding architecture which requires no additional radiation protection wall.
  • Advanced screening and security features such as organic/inorganic material discrimination.
  • High quality scanning image manipulation tools allowing the customs image reviewer the ability to verify and distinguish the contents of a vehicle or cargo container.

Since its launch more than 350 scans have been performed. Suspect containers were sent for full unpack resulting in various positive findings.

The new relocatable scanner is easier to operate and significantly faster than the mobile scanner. In addition, scanned images are now automatically integrated into SARS Customs case management and inspection software making case management both seamless and efficient.

It is anticipated that until October 2014, both the new scanner and the existing mobile scanner operations will co-exist. During this time, the new scanner will operate risk generated cases directly from SARS automated risk engine. Unscheduled or random interventions will continue to occur at the old scanner site, which operates 24/7.

Plans are in place to decommission the mobile scanner after October 2014. The new scanner will then operate on a 24/7 basis.



  1. Finally!… MB1215 (China Nuctech) series is a reliable equipment. It can do the work. I have operated it in Mozambique in a BOOT 24/7 business operations model. Yes the MB1215 6MeV dual energy gives a clear image but there is still a long way to “practice what they preach” in regards to organic/inorganic material discrimination. After the 2 years of warranty (maybe 3 ?..) the equipment becomes the most expensive in the world in terms of maintenance cost and OPEX in general. Most likely dependant on Nuctech maintenance. Therefore a parallel but complementary operation is strongly advisable with focus on:
    1. Vehicles throughput flows management
    2. Image vs. documentation analysis solid skills building resulting in expedite inspection. 3. Software integration between Nuctech and SARS through xml or other common interfacing.
    4. Own packing/unpacking platform for physical inspection with onsite stevedores.
    5. Seamless communication and information exchange.
    6. Outsourcing non-core activities.
    On medium and long term such measures should save costs and headaches. Otherwise SARS would have just bought a stressful and cost inefficient system…


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