Smart Ports Paper Proposes Global Connectivity

Source: BPA and Port of Rotterdam
Source: BPA and Port of Rotterdam

Published Aug 6, 2019 8:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

The British Ports Association and the Port of Rotterdam have launched a new joint smart ports paper examining port digitalization.

The paper notes the many different parties operating at a port including the port authority, nautical service providers and terminals. A Port Management System at Rotterdam supports the administrative and financial processing of calls and has shortened ship turnaround times by 30 minutes. However, another option proposed in the paper is to also use of AIS technology onboard ships and sensors in the port to improve efficiency. For example, the Port of Rotterdam achieves savings of five to 10 percent in dredging costs by bundling the routes sailed with information on silt deposits in the port basins. Sensor technology, big data and artificial intelligence make this possible.

At a global level, communication between a port and its hinterland could be expanded to other ports around the world, with these in turn are digitally linked to their own hinterland. This way, an integrated door-to-door digital logistics chain is created on a global scale, making optimum use of different transport modes.

Since sea-going vessels call at several ports, delays at one port can affect the available capacity at the next one unless ships increase speeds and therefore emissions. This is mainly the case if the ports are close to one another. By informing each other in good time of sailing routes and any divergence from their schedule, ports are able to make optimum use of their capacity and achieve shorter, reliable transit times, states the paper. Being able to respond in real-time to changes in the schedule means fewer delays, Just-in-Time operations and a seamless cargo flow from the production plant to the customer.

There are benefits to be had for all players along the logistics chain. Shippers and shipping companies are able to plan with greater accuracy and follow their cargo/ships in real time. Warehouses can maintain their stocks with small margins. Ports and terminals can forecast the ETAs and ETDs of ships more and more accurately and use their dock space and resources more effectively. This is not a luxury, given that currently around 30 percent of sea-going vessels still arrive more than 24 hours late, states the report.

Commenting on the paper, Joyce Bliek, Director of Digital Business Solutions at the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said: “As the Port of Rotterdam, we strongly believe in the added value of a global network of connected ports around the world. Such a network can facilitate the active exchange of data, both within port communities and between individual ports. In Rotterdam, we are making a dedicated investment in our digital development. And we rely on the knowledge, experience and innovations we have amassed in this field to support other ports – from vision to realization.”

The paper is available here.