Broaden customer awareness, port authorities told

The Port of Barcelona hosted chainPORT’s 4th Annual Meeting Photo: Port of Barcelona The Port of Barcelona hosted chainPORT’s 4th Annual Meeting Photo: Port of Barcelona
Industry Database

Port authorities need to widen their understanding of their customers to include their customers’ customers, beneficial cargo owners and the end-consumer, as well as their traditional shipping line, terminal operator and other maritime stakeholder base.

That was the consensus from port grouping chainPORT’s 4th Annual Meeting, hosted in December by Spanish member the Port of Barcelona, where the discussions concluded that for future ports, flexibility is the key factor.

“We need to provide ports’ services and infrastructure based on flexibility, reliability and efficiency, not only capacity,” Port of Barcelona deputy general manager Santiago Garcia Milà said.

“It is imperative that we draw closer to the cargo owner and be alert to the rapidly-changing demands being driven by today’s consumer.”

Capacity double-sided

During meeting work on reinterpreting the environment operated in by port authorities, discussions centred on the “megatrend” of the consumer and manufacturer moving closer together — radically disrupting the existing supply chain and being responsible for disintermediation.

According to TT Club and McKinsey & Company, this closer relationship will lead to greater expectations, directly from consumers, on topics like just-in-time availability, smaller costs, sustainable production and product variation.

chainPORT delegates talked about what part a port authority will have in the process, with much of the conversation focused on digitalisation and smart ports.

To meet customers’ future demands, chainPORT members agreed that a port’s capacity is now measured digitally as well as physically.

This alteration is turning the ecosystem from a former supply chain into a supply community where port authorities, as nodes, are key members and advocates.

According to Port of Hamburg president Jens Meier, ports have long considered “capacity” mostly in terms of physical infrastructure.

“Traditionally, this meant having enough physical space and … superstructure to accommodate the demands of port customers,” he said.

“However, in today’s era of digitalised industries, we need to see ‘capacity’ in a new light and respond to future demands with smart and digital capacities.”

The 4th Annual Meeting saw delegates from the world’s leading ports come together to examine their role in a fast-evolving maritime logistics landscape and, particularly, coordinate their contribution to creating an interconnected maritime supply chain.

Additionally, chainPORT’s working groups updated delegates on their work and set their agendas for 2019. Top of the agenda for next year are data standardisation and exchange, blockchain and cybersecurity.

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