Smart Ports The Future of Maritime Gateways

Ports around the world are critical logistics centres for their host countries. Nearly 90% of the world’s cargo is transported by sea with more than half of that being containerised cargo.  According to the Ministry of Shipping (India), around 95 per cent of India’s international trade by volume and 70 per cent by value is moved by some form of maritime transport. The volume of Indian trade handled by its ports is expected to reach 1,695 million metric tonnes by 2021-22, according to a report of the National Transport Development Policy Committee.

To keep up with the ever-growing demand (global and domestic), ports, and the supporting logistics industry must modernize and digitalize.  They must adjust to the world of tomorrow. This means expansion, modernization and automation of their infrastructure and services, they must change into being SMART ports.  A SMART port takes advantage of a range of technologies to enable services to be transparent and interactive saving space & time. Transparency leads to predictability; predictability optimizes fuel consumption and asset use and that leads to higher profits and/or lower costs.

SMART ports and technology

SMART ports take advantage of a range of technologies. The technologies used depend on the nature of the port and the commodity they handle.  This may in turn depend on the extent of automation required.

The types of technology used range from load sensing leading to antisway, remote monitoring and operation as well as block chain processing.  Specific examples include using drones as part of their surveillance and security operations, others use CCTV with sophisticated OCR and other recognition technologies.

Taking CCTV as an example, cameras can be installed at the entrance of the port and inside the terminals to record the number plates of the vehicles entering and exiting, this monitors the traffic of trucks/ trailers at the entrance and within the terminals and thus helps in traffic planning to avoid congestions.  It also enhances security within the port and terminals as unauthorised vehicles can be easily identified.

The key to the success of SMART ports is accurate data, its interpretation and the communication of conclusions back to those in need of advice (on route, location and status of their cargo). The Internet is the main enabler of data acquisition and communication and usually the human interface to the data and the understanding derived from that data.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is considered as the latest evolution of the internet where it uses machine-to-machine (M2M) interfaces. IoT is only possible if there is secure and reliable network connectivity (LAN, Wifi etc.), Sensors (GPS, RFID etc.) to capture/ generate data and supporting computational capabilities; this enables Internet connected objects to communicate, exchange information, have decisions taken then invoke actions and thus increase in efficiency & productivity.

What are the benefits of a SMART Port?

Some of the benefits are as follows:

  • Marine operations planning: improved marine operations planning and turnaround using IoT sensors on land and water to give real time insight to the marine team
  • Energy Management: driving operational efficiency, administration and management of all energy consuming port asset and utilities across the port & terminal
  • Equipment operations: Real time connectivity to all equipment’s across the Terminal for failure prediction, predictive maintenance & OEE as well as operational job selection.
  • Pipeline monitoring and alert: mitigating hazard risks through proactive monitoring of gas and fuel pipeline using IoT sensors and cameras to detect leakage, accident detection and communicate alerts with advice on the required response
  • Port communication: multi-channel communication system to bring different stake holders at port to a single collaborative platform irrespective of communication devices
  • People tracking tracking and monitoring of patrolling staff to ensure workforce efficiency and compliance
  • Enhanced security: Controlling access to the port and providing intruder detection and early warning by fostering a safe and secure physical and virtual environment
  • Operational Efficiency: digitization of core infrastructure with data analytics for better decision-making, productivity and cost savings

Case studies

1.Port of Antwerp

A digital innovation network in Antwerp seeks to improve infrastructures, the logistics processing and port traffic flows. This connects all the elements of the port through a network for sharing of data and information. Knowing the state of the goods or the direction they are going to take is essential to operate quickly and effectively

2. Port of Rotterdam

Rotterdam is implementing IoT technologies combined with AI through cloud applications to drive efficiencies and operational transformation. Quay walls, dolphins and other structures through the port area have been fitted with sensors. These sensors constantly collect and forward data to the platform. They will collect hydrographic and meteorological data on aspects like water levels, salinity, wind speeds, visibility and currents, and merge them in the newly developed dashboard. The data collected will be analysed and processed into real time data that ships and port operators can use to their advantage to improve pilotage and berthing as well as monitor and respond to pollution incidents.

3. Port of Valencia

The recently installed a network of ‘black boxes’ on 200 cranes, straddle carriers, trucks and forklifts within the port of Valencia collect a range of information, such as their location and energy consumption.  These help terminal staff find ways to reduce idle time. In addition, they have installed Smart illumination systems, which light up only when vehicles are in close vicinity, a measure that is said to have cut energy consumption by 80%; this also mean light pollution is greatly reduced.

4. Long Beach Container terminal, California

The main terminal in Long Beach is now fully automatic. The equipment are also zero emission.  All diesel equipment has been replaced with all with electricity equipment. The entire process is controlled from a central management centre. The brain of the terminal knows which containers are moving and where they are going. In this way it is possible to perform many more operations at the same time and optimise utilisation saving hundreds of truck trips

5. Major Ocean Carriers to Join TradeLens Blockchain-Enabled Digital Shipping Platform

A.P. Moller –Maersk and IBM had announced the creation of TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution designed to promote more efficient and secure global trade, bringing together various parties to support information sharing and transparency, and spur industry-wide innovation. CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced they will join TradeLens.  With CMA CGM, MSC, Maersk, and other carriers committed to the platform, data for nearly half of the world’s ocean container cargo will be available on TradeLens. This will provide a significant boost to the TradeLens vision of greater trust, transparency, and collaboration across supply chains to help promote global trade.

6. First Ever Bill Of Lading Issues With Blockchain Technology

The first ever bill of lading issued using blockchain technology was successfully done in the Port of Koper, Slovenia (EU). The Bill of Lading for this shipment has been issued electronically and transferred with the help of an ultra-secure and reliable public blockchain network called “CargoX Smart Bill of Lading™” in just minutes instead of days, and the chances of loss, theft or damage to the Bill of Lading have been dramatically reduced to near-zero

Smart ports are about data gathering and its use to manage the operation.  They are about connecting the supply chain, from one end to another using digital technologies and innovations.  They will permit us to increase the efficiency of ports while reducing the pressure on the environment.

The maritime industry is one of the pillars of global transport network and is rapidly evolving towards a completely digitalized future and we must jump on board to keep up with these changes and get connected using digital technology.

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