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The Digitalisation of International Ports

Digitalisation and connectivity are the next generation technological developments for international ports. But what does digitalisation involve?

There is plenty of focus on data gathering, and using connectivity as a tool for improving operational efficiencies.

Another key aspect of digitalisation is in the application of simulation-based ship to shore training. This offers ports major benefits in efficiency, safety and productivity.

Although digitalisation is a global phenomenon, the pace of adoption varies, and involves different approaches.

International ports are vital to the flow of global trade, and because of this ongoing importance, how they can improve efficiency through automation is a pressing issue.

The past 20 years have seen advances in automation and now various advanced technologies, including partially-guided cranes and automated guided vehicle systems (AGVs), are commonplace in leading ports of Europe.

European Pioneers in Port Innovation

As far back as 1989, the Port of Gothenburg was offering a ship to shore power supply, and was the first to introduce a high-voltage onshore power supply in 2000.

The Port of Rotterdam provided the world’s first automated terminal, in 1993, with its prominent use of AGVs. It is now in the process of becoming the most automated port in the world, using smart technology.

Some leading European ports are now going beyond automation, aiming to interconnect technical components and integrate different port community stakeholders.

Barcelona, for example, is working on a network that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve its working methods, identifying the precise location of its maintenance vehicles in real time.

Meanwhile, the Port of Hamburg is testing 5G in a real-life environment, to build advanced connectivity into its operations.

What has driven these ports to take on such a leading role in adopting new digital technologies?

There are two major reasons:

  • They are inner-city ports, which are having to deal with congestion issues and the inefficiencies that result from them, and
  • They are competing in a crowded market, and are therefore seeking to differentiate themselves from each other, and from other shipping routes and transport modes.

However, pioneering technological change brings with it challenges.

There is the risk of investing time and effort in the wrong technology, if it proves not to be the industry standard. If they only come up with only a locally-adopted solution, then this will bring limited returns.

Real value will come if different stakeholders along the supply chain co-operate with technical integration.

This creates a paradox: on the one hand, differentiation and competition are driving innovation; but on the other, the big returns will only come if there is widespread adoption of specific solutions.

Any initiatives require sensible integration to optimise the entire supply chain, achieving a critical mass for change through innovation.

Digital Transformation and Simulation-based Training for Ports

Watch our webinar in partnership with CM Labs and port industry experts, where we plan to share insights about the latest technologies and their return on investment and efficiency. Our guest speakers will dive into a range of topic and present their own experiences using simulation training technologies.

WATCH THE RECORDING

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