How digitalization may redefine the future role of ports
Looking at the current degree of digital data exchange and communications in maritime logistics and transport chains, it becomes clear that the use of ICT solutions is an old hat for the port industry. Still, business experts and scientists relentlessly proclaim an ongoing transformation that is said to shift the role ports will play in tomorrow’s supply chains. Buzzwords such as “smart” and “intelligent” are already an essential part of political discussions and strategic considerations of major market players. So what exactly is about to Change?
Paperless, automated, smart
To better understand the essence of current developments, it is helpful to reconsider how information technologies have shaped the port landscape in the previous decades and what has been different from today. Just recently, scientists have specified three main phases of port digitalization (see ).
Driven by the tremendous growth in container shipping, the primary motivation in the early days for using ICT has been to improve the scalability by establishing paperless information exchange procedures. Accompanied by standardization initiatives such as UN/EDIFACT, the introduction of port community systems (PCS) and commercial terminal operating systems (TOS) in the 1980s has set a first digital transformation in the port industry.
zero emissions by 2050
The Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) offers a position paper about CO2-neutral shipping – in the field of tension between technical possibilities, ecological reason as well as economic and political interests. What contribution can LNG make to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping? What further measures are needed to realise the vision of “zero emissions by 2050”?
initiate measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the global climate
Maritime transport has increased steadily in the past decades on a world scale. Currently, about 90 percent of intercontinental trade is handled by sea transport. Along with this, vessels increasingly emit air pollutants with effects on health, environment and climate. With the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the IMO was mandated to initiate measures for reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions to the global climate. An extensive bundle of measures to achieve the ambitious goals has since then been discussed and developed. But have these measures been implemented early enough and ambitiously enough in anticipation of technologies and fuels to be developed in the future?
3D vizualisation of terminals as a chance?
Today’s terminal operators face challenges like constant pressure by global carriers / vessel operators and by landside operators likewise. To cope with these is even harder under the current uncertainties on global economic growth: how is the development of my terminal evolving in short- and medium-term view? And what if the world economic growth recovers? Would this cause a demand for an entirely new “greenfield”-terminal or just a larger or enhanced container terminals? What if the world economy tends to a recession? How can we gain a higher level of efficiency already now?
This brings up a huge bunch of questions particularly if it comes to more flexibility on container terminal operations necessary to pace up with the present competitors and global players? Do we need more prime movers and a higher level of automation? Do we have to bring in more STSs and maybe less but more qualified and specialised workers? What’s about an at least moderate change in the container-terminal-layout to gain shorter ways for my AGVs? How can I handle with less equipment and keep the service level right up to my customers’ demands?
Ongoing and “never ending” negotiations lead to lower rates per move and therefore further stressing annual revenues and cost targeting.
Sea port data for determining the predicted cargo availability
This blog article describes the current status of the project “LAVIS – Intelligent Data Analysis for Forecasting Cargo Availability in Sea Ports”. The Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL) and AKQUINET, an IT company, are currently carrying out the feasibility study, with a time frame of less than a year. The project is receiving funding from the mFund research initiative by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
In its first step, the LAVIS project aims to evaluate whether cargo availability in container terminals can be determined more accurately, to improve efficiency and speed during loading and optimize downstream transportation chains. To achieve this, the project is examining which approaches for determining the predicted cargo availability are possible and which data is needed to do so.
In Rotterdam 4th – 6th Nov 2019
Last week’s #SDP conference in Rotterdam has been packed with loads of content into two days with quite some takeaway for the more than 250 visitors. As a kick-off for the conference Port of Rotterdam presented their way forward and how they are one of the leading ports when it comes to digitization and smart port approaches.
So what are the learnings or is the takeaway from this conference?
1. The market around the ports and terminals is not waiting!
The global forwarders and customers of the shipping lines are not waiting until the port industry has made their way towards integrated, smart and data driven solutions. Things everybody is already used to in the day-to-day online shop, are expected to become normal in the logistics chain on a business level as well. So everybody ordering things on Amazon or other platforms expects to get the tracking ID immediately after ordering automatically. This is what is expected at the business level in the supply chain as well by the forwarders. Also the liners (and their vessels) as the main customers of ports are moving ahead. They start optimizing the routing using data analytics and connected data to minimize e.g. fuel consumption or waiting time (or both). This also requires more interactive and connected approach for ports towards the vessels. Connectivity and data exchange across the borders of the different parts of the supply chain are necessary.