No Turning Back on Digitalization in Ports
As the world grapples with the devastation brought about by Covid-19, the role the shipping and logistics industry now plays is more critical. Global trade involving farm produce, commodities and even medical supplies are essential items that need to reach processing plants and even nations that require medical aid.
It is now imperative that a port engages in digital data to drive collaboration, align activities, and make decisions that would improve vital processes across shipping operations. The recent emergence of the new normal defines how a forward-thinking port would desire to interact with various stakeholders and systems to drive engagement, share information and align processes. This creates a strong value proposition as industry players from shippers, truckers, terminals and liners will stand to benefit from new business values as the exchange of information directly contributes to their bottom line. Ports must be ready to utilize such shared data for operational clarity, predictability and good capacity utilization.
Here are 3 key areas that I think will be needed to mitigate disruptions of such nature in future.
Receiving details of cargo in a vessel becomes pre-emptive information for the port even before the vessel leaves the port of origin. And when it eventually berths, technologies can dynamically forecast and prioritize equipment and vehicle activities within the yard so that operations are well organized, saving costs and time.Real-time location monitoring technologies can transmit location information for operational staff within the confines of a control tower. Advanced systems can monitor the traveling speed of terminal vehicles and can send precautionary alerts to enhance overall safety. It can even identify the condition of the vehicle and send an alert to move the equipment into maintenance and repairs so to avoid unnecessary downtime. The list goes on.
What is key to note is that automation is increasingly recognized as anchor points as digitally connected cargo handling equipment helps ports to increase their handling capacity by ensuring that cranes, forklifts and other equipment are well utilized while navigating cargo movements, well- maintained and are operating at peak levels, contributing to overall yard safety.
While collaboration has been a buzzword for some time, the maritime industry has long been working in silos, especially in less developed economies. This has brought with it a constellation of organizational problems and communication issues. Let’s not even get started on the high possibility of erroneous information and manual entry of data into outdated systems. Forwarders, carriers and terminals are now recognizing that by having a collaborative environment of carriers that sits on a shared digital platform goes a long way in delivering exponential benefits. They will now have access to a single instance of truth, which means they get to experience real-time visibility to accurate information and gain control of the present situation. have the will and influence to come together, a positive change to trust and sustainable growth ensues.
Digital data is now able to generate new revenue streams and more service opportunities. These serves as actionable data as the liners, shippers, transport providers, warehouses, regulatory bodies and other parties come together to collaborate and enable transparency into status of goods and resources.The use of IoT can and should be maximized to reap the most benefits from the huge amount of data getting generated but remaining unprocessed in ports. Post operations, terminals can capitalize on big data to run analytics and aid in forecasting for future needs.
Such standards for port operation can only be made possible if digital transformation is done collectively and the smart port truly enjoys high levels of accuracy, strong adherence to governmental regulations and efficiency in port operations.
At the heart of today’s landscape, digitalization presents an opportunity to hasten the recovery of ports as the industry braces itself to enter into post Covid-19. Ports are no longer just physical hubs where cargo gets transported down the supply chain. Digitalization is rapidly transforming them to hubs of information where data gets exchanged to navigate through the same chain.
The potential of embracing the concept of a thriving digital hub is not a forlorn option, but rather, the potential to harness opportunities are limitless. Herein lies the need to harness right platforms that will enable teams to access shared information in order to coordinate cargo movements and digitize their workflows in an organized manner. Herein also lies the industry’s motivation to keep up with the industry’s responsibility to keep cargo moving through the global trade waters regardless of its seemingly bleak prognosis. After all they say, change is a constant and its just a new way of doing business better, stronger.
Opinion Piece by Carlo M.