Digitalisation more important than automation

Mr Neelsen said: “I honestly believe that digitalisation is one of the biggest leaps that we will see on the container industry" Photo: Kaboompics .com/Pexels/CC0 License Mr Neelsen said: “I honestly believe that digitalisation is one of the biggest leaps that we will see on the container industry" Photo: Kaboompics .com/Pexels/CC0 License

The chief executive of Malaysia’s Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) has described digitalisation as “even more important than automation”.

Speaking at container supply chain event TOC Asia, Marco Neelsen said: “I honestly believe that digitalisation is one of the biggest leaps that we will see on the container industry.

“It’s about how efficient you are, how quickly and how cost efficiently you can move the container from A to B.” He added that PTP is already pursuing digitalisation plans, albeit at a slower pace to Singapore, a port that Mr Neelsen described as “one of the role models for this globally”.

DACHSER Air & Sea Logistics’ Asia Pacific managing director, Edoardo Podestá, said that digitalisation of the port trade is not only necessary but is the “founding rock of everything”.

However, he also noted: “As much as we digitise and digitalise, cargo flows are still regulated by physical principals of people, of networks, of assets.”

Guillaume Lucci, vice president for global engineering at port management company International Container Terminal Services Inc, said that digitalisation’s true value is “at a portfolio level” and that consolidation has “fundamentally” altered “relationships with shipping lines”.

“We have really grown tremendously our relationships with customers, opening up relationships with cargo owners,” he said.

Discussion about artificial intelligence (AI) was also offered by the panel at TOC Asia.

Indranil Sen, APRIL Group head of supply chain management, said that AI “has gone through two rounds of hype and died”, with the phrase having been coined in the 1950s, but much more data is available for this third wave.

“AI is nothing but a drop in the cost of predictions,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of investment going into AI but only digitally-mature companies are adopting it.”

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