1. What do you think is the current status of standardization in the container terminal industry, what are the points not addressed yet?
We are just at the beginning. With the new Terminal Industry Committee 4.0 (TIC 4.0) it is the first time that all the actors of our industry sit down together with the clear intention to agree about semantics and protocols, in order to formalize and standardize the language used in our industry. At last, our industry has become conscious that without an easy interconnexion of systems facilitated by commonly accepted standards we cannot build a complex system, unless it is a custom-designed complex system that will be really expensive and risky to undertake.
2. From your point of view, why are standards important moving forward in the 4th industrial revolution and IoT?
The main reason our industry is one of the last ones to embrace the 4th industrial revolution is because we don’t have the basics in place to interconnect and share data; for this reason, automation remains exceptional in our industry. Until recently, every player in our industry thought that to develop closed solutions based on own standards was a competitive advantage, but most companies realise that it is too complex and limitative, and that an easy plug-and-play integration of each element, several levels of orchestration and optimization require a high level of connectivity. Unlike other industries, our initiative TIC 4.0 immediately involved terminal operators and their suppliers, terminal equipment and solutions providers to work jointly on elaborating a common language: this collaboration will ensure a faster adoption of the standards by both clients and their suppliers.
3. What do you expect of the work at TIC 4.0 and what was the main reason becoming a member?
We need to develop a long term solution for the connectivity of equipment in the terminal environment, that allows us to deploy a high level of technology in our existing terminals at a fraction of the cost and risk of failure that it would entail to do it alone with a custom designed solution. Terminal Link has many partners in their terminals, imagine what it would imply to implement and manage a different solution for each digital project: the cost would be very high vs. being able to adopt standard solutions. Standards have to allow us to deploy modular solutions and interconnect them easily and transparently, allowing us to evaluate and optimize each one and their combination.
4. What was the most encouraging experience working in TIC 4.0 together with the members?
I was grateful to discover that all our competitors shared exactly the same vision than us, and of course the same problems. When we work together we know that this work is going to require a long time. Each one of the TIC 4.0 members gives their best knowledge to ensure that the result will be bullet-proof for the applications in our industry. The level of expertise is really high, and both solution providers and terminal operators are completely focused on the usability of the standards in the real world. After one year and a lot of work, we know that the scope is so huge that we just wrote the first page. But this page is going to be a good foundation for all the future content of TIC 4.0
About the member/author:
Boris Wenzel is the CEO of Terminal Link SAS, a global terminal operator with investments in 23 container, conventional and ro-ro terminals around the world, and is the founder and President of the Terminal Industry Committee 4.0 (TIC 4.0) Association that has been incorporated in 2019 with the aim of developing standards for the cargo handling industry.
More about TIC 4.0: https://tic40.org/