As trade and cargo volumes continue to grow internationally, ports around the globe are looking to new technologies to help manage resources in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner through digitalisation and big data, writes Lauren Riga.

Algeciras BrainPort 2020 aims to improve port products and services to promote enhanced efficiency, security and sustainability

Algeciras BrainPort 2020 aims to improve port products and services to promote enhanced efficiency, security and sustainability

By going digital, connectivity and automation will help reduce environmental footprints of the port industry along with intelligent transport systems, which have a huge potential to reduce co2 emissions. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the world shipping fleet grew by 3.5% to carry 1.75 billion deadweight tonnage (DWT) of cargo in 2015.

As ships get bigger and international trade increases, ports around the world are improving maritime infrastructure and enhancing port facilities with smarter, more intelligent designs with the help of technology.

This technological phenomenon falls under the category of the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is about the connecting of devices and intelligent utilisation of data, which creates visibility for asset management and visibility of where savings potential is.

According to a white paper published by Navis: “Technologies exist today to eliminate an estimated US$17 billion of waste through the adoption of more integrated solutions. But for the vision of the port of the future to be fulfilled, it will require strong industry leadership and a change in mindset.” The use of technology becomes critical to enable process improvements across port logistics.

Digital ports”

Current trends in automation are focused on automating both equipment handling and operational processes for ports and terminal operators. Through the Internet of Things (IoT), ports are being integrated into a maritime information network, where relevant data is accessible and shared with shipping partners in a secure environment. Automatic processing of cargo information across this maritime network will provide container movement transparency and efficiency, as well as support other port processes associated with the flow of containerised cargo.

Globally, port improvements have demonstrated increases in productivity efficiencies. Port authorities such as Singapore, Long Beach, Rotterdam and Hamburg are among the trailblazers in next generation port designs and technology.

For example, automated ports in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan can undertake 46 crane moves per hour, which is 43% more efficient than North American ports in unloading cargo. Additionally, at the Port of Rotterdam, almost every part of the process of unloading containers is handled by software, and office workers remotely control the cranes over their computers.

Port of San Diego: Energy efficiency with IoT

One of the greatest areas that can benefit from IoT is in energy efficiency and demand management, indicating that intelligence can be used to improve productivity and energy efficiency.

The Port of San Diego was among the first ports to launch an energy efficiency digitisation programme in 2014 through itspartnership with the Smart City San Diego Regional Collaborative, led by Cleantech San Diego. This collaboration brings together public, private, and academic stakeholders to drive existing energy programmes forward, identify new opportunities, embrace additional collaborators, and move the San Diego region into new horizons of sustainability.

The primary goal of the regional initiative is to initiate energy efficiency pilot programs and share those successes and best practices with the goal of having them replicated across the region, the nation, and the globe.

The Port of San Diego was among the first ports in the nation to adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2013. The CAP provides a long-term strategic vision for the Green Port Program, and calls for 10% reductions of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 25% by 2035 compared to 2006 numbers.

Data collected showed the port has made significant progress towards its 2020 goal, reducing approximately 56,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and achieving over 50% of the 2020 goal.

The use of smart sensors to detect and stop wasted energy in buildings supports the goals of the Port’s CAP and is anticipated to contribute to future declines in greenhouse gas emissions.This collaboration demonstrates how the capture and use of data can reduce energy and save money, which can encourage similar deployments in buildings and communities throughout the region.

Port of Algeciras’ digitalisation programme

The Port of Algeciras Bay Authority (APBA) is managing one of the four main global maritime transshipment hubs, where Algeciras serves as a fundamental node for the different trans-oceanic routes and services articulating the global scenario for container shipping. APBA is driving an innovation programme called Algeciras BrainPort 2020 (ABP 2020).

Algeciras BrainPort 2020 represents emerging trends toward a new port management model where, in addition to improving port products and services for enhanced efficiency, security and sustainability, it also serves to develop a new culture and mindset focused on continuous improvement and operational excellence.

According to a report published by Navis, Phase 1 of ABP 2020 (2014-2015) focused on infrastructure and innovation frameworks have been created as the core for the digital transformation journey. Phase 2 improves collaboration and synergies among the whole port and logistics community.

The report also outlines APBA’s vision of a port involved in a digital transformation journey, which includes:
*Building a port digital layer with real time information of every business process to control efficiency
*Developing a business analytics platform to learn more about the business and enabling an improved decision making process
*Setting up a port collaboration platform with smart integration of systems and agents to share meaningful information and thereby enable a high-quality seamless logistics chain
*Development of a holistic port process simulator for planning (scale of years) and management (scale of hours), in order to try different scenarios and optimise operations
*Building of a systematic innovation culture within the entire port community which makes it possible to challenge the status-quo and adopt new business models

APBA is strongly focused following international standards, as well as developing solutions that are not only specific to Algeciras, but have global implications to ecosystem sustainability and maintainability. The vision of APBA demonstrates a holistic evolution in port logistics by integrating innovative thinking throughout its organisation.

Digital ports & policy implications

Many ports around the world are shifting to greener and more efficient practices with the help of technology enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT).The ports highlighted in this article are demonstrating the value of data driven solutions to ‘connect the dots’ between different environments supporting the port’s business and operational processes.

Ports realise that their future is not only tied to infrastructure development, but also to smarter approaches and a seamless integration of the port community.

Combining different areas of digital infrastructure may also prove to be mandatory as all data relating to goods and infrastructure needs to be connected for ports to be able to manage their traffic and trade flows; and essentially, to be prepared for the future of managing the transportation of goods.

This technological evolution is demonstrating that industry needs a policy environment that focuses on driving innovation and developing a smarter and simpler regulatory framework to better enable adoption of smart technologies at ports.

New requirements on efficiency, security and environment demonstrate where aligning of industry and policy is critical to incorporate both “process intelligence” and “operational optimisation” across all the logistic processes within the port.

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