The positivity of collaboration and openness continued into Day 2 of Coastlink in Amsterdam, with lively discussions, Q&As and coffee-time networking in which speakers and delegates were keen to share their experiences and knowledge across sustainable shipping, port operations and supply chains.


James Evans, Head of Operations at Portsmouth International Port, summed up the spirit of Coastlink during the panel discussion on shore power. Having outlined Portsmouth’s Sea Change shore power project, including the risk elements, he said: “What’s the point of doing all this if you don’t share it and enable the conversation or development to continue?”

During the Day 2 sessions, there were calls for more ‘joined-up thinking’ and clear strategic planning at government level and for more collaboration and data sharing across the industry.

“Smart operations & logistics – what’s next in digitalisation, automation and innovation to drive efficiency” was the topic of the final conference session, a panel discussion moderated by Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary General of BIMCO.

Panellist Mark Wootton, Deputy Director of Royal HaskoningDHV, discussed autonomous transport, digital twins, AI, and platforms and data; he considered how best to collaborate with others in an ecosystem to move cargo efficiently between source and destination. “How you connect everyone, both physically and digitally, is often not a technical challenge as much as an organisational challenge, to bring parties together to share data,” he said.

Lars Robert Pedersen noted that efficiency can be looked at on many levels – “often there is a tendency that things are assessed at too narrow a level, where real efficiency gains come from really optimising the whole transport chain”.

Wootton agreed: “There is more to gain the wider you focus your efforts, so the more people, the more processes, the broader your scope for optimisation is, there are many more opportunities to find those benefits.”

However, he added: “It is always a question of how you bring the parties together and co-develop solutions and share in the benefits. Sometimes you will find the effort comes from one party but the benefit goes to the other party. How do you share the efforts and costs and also the benefits that come out in an equitable way?”

Mo Dualeh, EMEA Sales Manager at TBA Group, which specialises in software solutions for port, terminal and warehouse performance, said there is often a disconnected supply chain even within the same organisation. “It is not uncommon to see a terminal dealing with millions of tonnes a year, juggling 50-plus data sheets, with multiple inputs, no central hub and difficulty getting real-time information,” he said.

The industry is waking up to the need for streamlined systems to capture, process and analyse data, said Dualeh. “It is all about standardisation.”

Sustainability and decarbonisation were central threads throughout Coastlink and this session focused on the role of digitalisation in optimisation, efficiency and the reduction of emissions. However, Wootton noted: “We also need to be cognisant of the carbon footprint of all the technology – it also comes with a cost. Statistics show that global data centres are bigger carbon emitters than the whole airline industry.”