Customer feedback counts, says Peel

Industry Database

Investing in new technology is important for a port, but listening to customers is also pivotal, Peel Ports Group’s deputy chief operation officer David Huck told delegates at TOC Europe.

Discussing the importance of good technology to a port’s operations, Mr Huck said: “You’ve got to underpin your port with the right technology for investment. From the port perspective, of course we’ve got to qualify, we’ve got to compete, and we’ve got to invest in technology.”

For Peel, that means making sure it interfaces with good-quality customer data, integrating that into its terminal operating systems, and that it offers a full suite of automation and transparency of measurement. It makes sure that the truck driver knows if there’s any congestion or challenges in the port, regulating the vehicle booking system, dynamically reporting information, and making sure that ultimately there’s only “one version of the truth”.

However, Mr Huck also expressed the importance of understanding port customers: “Importantly for us as a port, it’s also about understanding the supply chain, understanding dynamic information, reacting to that information and forming partnerships. It’s really through focusing predominately on the shipping line, who is the ultimate decision-maker, but more and more on the cargo owner.

“We’ve been listening to those cargo owners who said, ‘Look, we do want something different. Can you create some multi-user warehouses? Can you create some long-term storage? Can you create some container grading facilities?’ These are all part of that added value; it’s a different approach in the way of picking up growth.

Peel Ports, he continued, is a passionate believer in getting the port closer to market, turning the traditional thinking on its head and working with the cargo owners as well as the carriers. “Our focus as a business is not just working hand-in-hand with the shipping lines but also working hand-in-hand creating that physical mass because we ultimately do listen to the cargo owner.”

Commenting on who hold power at ports, Mr Huck said: “I think we’ll see over the next 9 to 10 years [a] big shift in perhaps the dynamics and the power base of the cargo owner.

“Undoubtedly, today, the shipping line is the kingmaker, as it relates to ports. But perhaps that will be challenged in the future. It really is about how that end-to-end supply chain, that end-to-end traffic, how is it managed, and does that really fit with the person who’s paying the bill?”

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