posts posted under the Blue Innovation initiative

Navigating the Future: AI’s Impact on Marketing and Sales within the Port Logistics Industry

Written by: Lidia Slawinska, Digital Communication Manager – Escola Europea

As marketing and sales professionals, we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing that can revolutionize the way we connect with our audience, streamline our operations, and optimize our strategies for the ever-evolving market demands. Over the past few years, one technological advancement has stood out not just as a tool but as a transformative force reshaping our professional landscape: Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Dawn of AI in Marketing and Sales

My introduction to AI wasn’t through a dramatic unveiling; it was through a growing realization of its subtle integration into our everyday tools and processes. AI began as a helping hand in analyzing customer data, offering insights that were previously buried in spreadsheets and databases. Analytics software integrated into nearly all CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and CMS (Content Management Systems) tools have become indispensable, transforming raw data into actionable insights with the click of a button. Google’s AI-powered algorithms have optimized our ad placements, ensuring our marketing messages reach the right audience at the right time.

But it was when AI started offering predictive capabilities that I truly grasped its potential. Predictive analytics tools, such as those offered by IBM Watson, have enabled marketers to forecast market trends and customer behaviour with surprising accuracy. This foresight has been game-changing in planning marketing and sales strategies, allowing for proactive rather than reactive approaches.

The AI Edge in the Port Logistic Industry

Working in the marketing and sales sphere of the port logistic industry presented unique challenges, from the complexity of logistics to the diverse needs of our clientele. AI became the beacon of innovation we needed. Here are several ways AI has transformed our marketing and sales approaches:

  • Predictive Analytics for Demand Forecasting: AI’s ability to sift through and analyze data has been instrumental in predicting demand fluctuations for port services. This predictive insight allows us to tailor our marketing efforts, ensuring they are both timely and relevant.
  • Enhanced Customer Segmentation: The granularity with which AI can segment our audience is unparalleled. By understanding the specific needs and behaviors of different user groups, we can craft more effective and targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Personalized Customer Experiences: AI has enabled us to move beyond one-size-fits-all marketing messages. Through machine learning algorithms, we’re now able to personalize communications and offers, significantly improving engagement rates and customer satisfaction.
  • Efficient Operations Through Automation: From automating routine tasks to optimizing ad placements, AI has freed our team to focus on more strategic and creative initiatives. This efficiency gain is not just about doing more with less; it’s about doing better.

Navigating the Challenges

The integration of AI into our marketing and sales strategies has not been without its challenges. Data privacy concerns, the need for clean and comprehensive data sets, and the ongoing battle against algorithm bias are hurdles we continue to navigate. However, the potential benefits far outweigh these obstacles, pushing us to innovate and improve continually.

A Glimpse into the Future

Looking ahead, the potential of AI in marketing seems limitless. We’re on the brink of adopting AI for content creation, where tools like OpenAI’s GPT can generate engaging and relevant content tailored to our audience’s interests. Imagine automated market reports, blog posts, and even social media updates that resonate with our audience, crafted at the push of a button.

Moreover, the advent of augmented reality (AR) and AI offers exciting new platforms for interactive marketing. AR port tours or virtual product demonstrations could become standard marketing tools, offering immersive experiences that were once the realm of science fiction.

Embarking on the AI Journey

For my fellow marketers eager to embark on this AI journey, the first step is education. Familiarize yourself with the basics of AI and its applications in marketing. Engage with platforms like Coursera or edX, and explore AI tools tailored to marketing and sales needs. Remember, the journey into AI is not a solo venture. Collaborate with your IT department, consult with AI experts, and most importantly, stay curious and open to the transformative potential AI holds.

In conclusion, AI in marketing and sales is not just a trend; it’s the future. With the objective of further exploring this trend, the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport is offering a course on the applications of AI in marketing and sales, with a special focus on the port environment. Scheduled for the 27th of May, this course is part of a series of four sessions aimed at dissecting the impacts of artificial intelligence in port operations. It represents a valuable resource for professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of AI’s role in transforming marketing strategies and commercial activities in the port sector.

For those interested in participating or seeking additional information, please contact the organizers at the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport. This course provides an opportunity to explore the practical applications of AI in a specialized context, contributing to the ongoing development of marketing professionals in the port logistic industry.

Today, we have a unique opportunity to leverage these advancements, transforming challenges into opportunities and set new benchmarks for excellence in our field. The journey has just begun, and I, for one, am excited to see where it takes us.

The challenges of digitalization and its impact on training activities in transport and logistics

Written by: Xavier Lluch i Oms, Consultant in Transportation, Logistics & Information Systems & Professor at the Escola Europea

For many years now, companies and all kind of organisations have improved their information circuits by mechanising, or computerising, etc.

Progress, so far, has been implanted inside the organisations, facilitating the transfer of information between different departments. Commercial departments, operations (transport-warehouse, etc.), and administration, among others are but some examples. In this aspect, applications have evolved from the first ones that comprised a single function (billing, accounting …) to those that seek to solve communication problems holistically for the entire company. Commonly known as “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) , the different existing ERPs compete amongst themselves, but their goal is always to solve the question of information circuits inside the companies. ERPs are solving the need to re-enter data between different departments or functions of the companies above all.

There have been attempts to resolve communications between companies, but they have always been limited to specific business partners. Companies can exchange data but can hardly do so with other commercial partners in general as each connection requires specific agreements. Nevertheless, there are exceptions, such as:

  • Port Community Systems
  • Various initiatives fostered in the maritime world, especially between shipping companies and administrations, within the framework of the “maritime single window environment” (SWE).
  • Some communication subsystems such as the “Automated Identification System” (AIS) used in maritime navigation.
  • Some initiatives in the air world, thanks to IATA standards
  • The contracting platforms or loading exchanges, although each one with its own communication standards.
  • The electronic invoice, to the extent that it has been imposed by public administrations.

All these attempts have not progressed further. This was partly due to the power limitations of data management, but above all due to the lack of complete standardization; making it so that each implementation requires either a manual link or a complicated series of steps of adjusting communications.

In recent years the landscape has begun to change with the EU initiative to constitute the Data Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF), a true standardization working group, which has set up the conditions for the promulgation of the (Electronic Freight Transport Information) eFTI regulation in 2020.

The implementation of the eFTI regulation (EU) 2020/1056/ is a significant step towards the use of digital exchanges of information in the transport sector. We may be on the verge of a radical change in communication, similar to the introduction of the ISO TC 104 standard in 1961, which opened the gate to the universal use of containers in the transport industry.

The possibility of having standards and an operational architecture within the E.U. creates an enormous playing field. We can now replace paper with the cloud to support or store transport data, and consequently we shall no longer talk about transport documents but about datasets.  At the same time, the possibility to access a much larger market database more efficiently opens infinite new possibilities to organise transports and new business models.

Electronic transport documents within the EU will become widely used and will save a lot of costs, and the increased added value in operations opens a new conception of transport flows.

ERPs will become less significant, (as we will no longer talk about invoicing or accounting programmes ). The new question will focus not on how we enter data but how we manage it.  New business models will appear, based on the possibilities of accessing large amounts of data and organising operations more efficiently.

The speed of adoption of changes depends largely on the attitude of public administrations, which set the rules of the game between companies. But the process is unstoppable and countries that do not follow them will lose competitiveness.

In a mid-to-long, term similar progress shall be extended to the full commercial chain, comprising not only those involved in the logistics or transport chain strictly, but a larger array of actors  (buyers, sellers, administrations, banks…). Technology now allows for highly innovative ways of working, but the complexity of the participants and their divergent interests greatly hinder their adoption.

These new working methods pose medium-term challenges both in the organization of companies and in the training needs of their employees.

A digital cultural background will be required in data exploitation processes. Computer security, digital signatures, data certification and protection, contracting and management of databases, organization of information, legal issues related to electronic contracting, communication systems between companies, and many more that we can now only imagine.

But even if information systems will change, the basic problems will still exist: The lost shipment, the vessel that does not sail as planned; the erroneous declaration of customs; the interpretation of trade rules; incidents of all kinds in transport; compliance with financial commitments; the fight against fraud; the increase in complexity of customs regulations; questions related to the massification of B2C trade, etc. Standardization will not solve everything and a professional transport skill will always be required.

In the next five years companies will probably start to implement some changes, in preparation for what seems a likely horizon:

  • Accentuation of sector concentration, (horizontal and vertical), accessing the large shippers.
  • Disappearance of companies due to absorption into larger groups.
  • Displacement of traditional companies towards market niches, either by transport specialities (pharmaceutical, dangerous goods, temperature controlled transport, hanging clothing, among others) or by routes or geographical areas, or by ancillary services.
  • Emergence of new companies with cloud services: Online contracting, load exchanges with complementary services, among others.
  • In customs clearance, accentuation of the changes initiated with the new customs code and with the expected ones, more centralized clearance, new roles of customs representatives, increased legislative complexity, discussion of the “trusted trader”, changes in e-commerce…
  • Emergence of the companies based on new models (such as Usyncro, Ontruck, Widoit,…)
  • Evolution of data entry solutions such as ERP.

Training activities should reflect the changes expected in the transport industry and specifically in the information flows. Training in logistics should include the foreseen technologies and tools in the training programmes, and some basic concepts in IT with which trainees should become familiar, such as electronic signatures, technologies and concepts related to information (data, metadata, protocols related, databases…), etc. IT Technologies are becoming more and more present in transport and logistics operations. However, it should not be neglected that the transport business requires to be familiarised with all “traditional” operational aspects involved with international transportation and commerce, from Incoterms to payment methods, to packaging and palletisation, customs regulation, international and national transport, insurance conventions, and so on.

The eruption of IT technologies and new and better transport means are contributing to an increase in volumes and to “commoditising” operations. Nowadays there are less uncertainties, less incidents, but it should never be forgotten that international trade is always subject to a number of legal and operational challenges and professionals should be well aware of the consequences of contracting in one way versus another. At the same time the increased volumes of international trade are originating complex problems (including customs issues) that require deeper and more significant professional skills.

Digitisation is inevitable!

And it is up to us now to ensure that we keep up with it, and that we can train our workforce with existing, new, and emerging skills to stay on top of the game.

The Future of Talent Acquisition with AI

The recruitment landscape has undergone significant transformations over the years, evolving from manual job postings and paper CVs to digital platforms and social media outreach. In this era of technological advancements, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is setting the stage for the next major shift in talent acquisition. By automating repetitive tasks, offering insights into candidate data, and facilitating more informed decision-making, AI is not only streamlining the recruitment process but also enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of hiring strategies.

The Role of AI in Talent Acquisition

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the way companies approach talent acquisition, making the process faster, more accurate, and less biased. AI’s influence is evident in every phase of recruitment, from sourcing candidates to finalizing hires. Unlike traditional methods that rely heavily on human judgment and manual processes, AI-driven strategies utilize data analysis, machine learning, and predictive analytics to optimize recruitment outcomes.

AI tools and platforms are now capable of parsing vast amounts of data to identify the most suitable candidates for a position. These technologies can analyse job descriptions, match them with candidates’ profiles, and even predict the likelihood of a candidate’s success in a role. This level of precision not only streamlines the recruitment process but also ensures a higher quality of hires by matching the right candidates with the right opportunities.

AI in Sourcing Candidates

 The advent of AI in sourcing candidates has dramatically changed the recruitment landscape, enabling companies to find talent more efficiently and effectively. Traditional sourcing methods, such as job boards or recruitment agencies, often require significant time and resources to sift through applicants. In contrast, AI-powered platforms, like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, use sophisticated algorithms to analyse a candidate’s online profile, experience, and skills, suggesting potential matches that fit specific job requirements.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Recruiter tool leverages AI to offer recommendations based on the job description provided by the employer and the candidate’s profile information. This system not only identifies active job seekers but also passive candidates who may not be actively looking for a new job but are open to opportunities. This broader reach ensures that companies have access to a wider talent pool, increasing the chances of finding the perfect match.

AI in CV Screening and Candidate Selection

 One of the most time-consuming aspects of recruitment is the screening of CVs. AI technologies, specifically Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), have revolutionized this process by automating the screening of resumes against job descriptions. Tools such as Taleo, Lever, and Greenhouse use AI to evaluate resumes based on keywords, skills, previous job titles, and other relevant criteria, effectively narrowing down the pool of applicants to those who best match the job requirements.

Beyond just matching skills and experience, some AI systems are designed to assess a candidate’s potential fit within the company culture or predict their performance. For example, Pymetrics uses neuroscience-based games and AI to measure candidates’ cognitive and emotional traits, providing insights that go beyond the traditional resume. This holistic approach ensures that the selection process is not only about finding candidates with the right skills but also about ensuring they align with the company’s values and work environment.

Predicting Candidate Success

 Predicting the long-term success of a candidate is perhaps one of the most innovative applications of AI in talent acquisition. By analyzing patterns and outcomes from past hires, AI algorithms can identify traits and characteristics that are indicative of success in a particular role or organization. Platforms like Harver and HireVue integrate AI assessments and video interviews to evaluate candidates’ responses, using data analytics to predict job performance and retention rates.

This predictive capability is invaluable for organizations, as it helps reduce turnover rates by ensuring that hires are not only qualified for the position but are also likely to thrive and remain with the company long-term. Moreover, by reducing the chances of a bad hire, companies can save significant costs associated with recruitment, training, and potential termination.

Benefits of AI in Talent Acquisition

The integration of AI into talent acquisition processes offers several compelling benefits, from efficiency gains to improved quality of hires:

  • Efficiency and Time Savings: AI significantly reduces the time spent on manual tasks such as sifting through resumes or identifying potential candidates. For example, the AI-powered tool, Textio, assists in crafting job listings that are more likely to attract the right candidates, using data-driven insights to suggest language that appeals to a diverse and talented pool.
  • Improved Quality of Hires: By leveraging AI for more nuanced matching based on skills, experiences, and cultural fit, companies can improve the quality of their hires. For instance, the AI recruitment platform, Ideal, uses machine learning to analyze data on successful past hires, identifying traits and qualifications that correlate with success in specific roles, leading to more informed hiring decisions.
  • Enhanced Candidate Experience: Chatbots like Mya automate the initial stages of the recruitment process, engaging with candidates through natural language processing. This not only speeds up the screening process but also improves the candidate experience by providing immediate responses and feedback.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

While AI offers numerous advantages, its application in talent acquisition also raises several challenges and ethical concerns:

  • Bias and Fairness: AI systems are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on. Amazon’s scrapped AI recruiting tool is a case in point, where the algorithm developed a bias against female candidates because it was trained on resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period, predominantly from men. This highlights the need for continuous monitoring and updating of AI systems to ensure fairness.
  • Transparency and Privacy: Ensuring transparency about the use of AI in recruitment and safeguarding candidates’ privacy are paramount. Tools like HireVue, which uses video interviews analyzed by AI to assess candidates, have faced scrutiny over privacy concerns and the transparency of their AI algorithms. Companies must navigate these issues carefully, ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR and communicating clearly with candidates about the use of AI.
  • Dependency and De-skilling: There’s a risk that reliance on AI could lead to de-skilling of HR professionals, potentially making them overly dependent on technology for decision-making. Balancing the use of AI tools with the human touch and judgment remains crucial.

 

Conclusion

The future of talent acquisition is undeniably intertwined with AI, offering transformative potential to streamline the recruitment process, enhance the quality of hires, and predict candidate success. However, as we embrace these technologies, it’s imperative to address the challenges they pose, particularly around bias, transparency, and privacy. By doing so, we can harness the power of AI to not only revolutionize how we find and hire talent but also to do so in a way that is fair, ethical, and respectful of candidates’ rights.

We’ve done our research – so should you! Check out our sources below to delve more deeply into the topic:

SOURCES

 

  1. Forbes – “How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming The Recruiting Process”: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2023/09/13/how-ai-is-a-game-changer-for-recruiting-and-retention-at-salesforce-and-other-companies/?sh=62cef77d36fa
  2. Harvard Business Review – “Recruiting”: https://hbr.org/2021/03/reengineering-the-recruitment-process   LinkedIn Talent Blog: https://www.linkedin.com/business/talent/blog/talent-acquisition/how-ai-will-change-hiring
  3. Entrepreneur (Middle East) – “How Artificial Intelligence Is Reinventing Human Resources”: https://www.entrepreneur.com/en-ae/technology/how-artificial-intelligence-is-reinventing-human-resources/320763
  4. Recruiter.com “How Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming Recruiting Today “: https://www.recruiter.com/recruiting/how-artificial-intelligence-is-transforming-recruiting-today/

 

eFTI: One step closer towards the digitization of European transport

This month, for our #BlueInnovation feature, we thought we would look at Electronic Freight Transport Information – or eFTI for short. The world of transport and logistics is constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements and regulatory changes. In this landscape, eFTI has emerged as a pivotal innovation, reshaping how freight information is shared and managed across Europe. eFTI has the potential to being transformative, promising to streamline processes, enhance transparency, and improve efficiency in the transport sector. As the European Union moves towards more sustainable and digitised transport systems, understanding eFTI becomes crucial for professionals navigating the intermodal, road, air, and rail transport sectors (excluding maritime). This is why we chose to shine a spotlight on the subject.

Understanding eFTI

What is eFTI? The Electronic Freight Transport Information is a European Regulation (eFTI) regulation establishes a legal framework for the exchange of regulatory information related to the transport of goods. It facilitates economic operators, such as companies involved in freight transport and logistics, to share information in an electronic format with judicial authorities. This applies to the transport of goods by road, rail, inland waterway, or air within the European Union. Officially known as Regulation 2020/1056, it was enacted on August 20, 2020 following the recmmeondations of experts in the DTLF group (Data Transport and Logistics Forum). It will be fully applicable and enter into force on August 21, 2024

eFTI represents a significant leap in managing and sharing freight data. At its core, it is a digital system designed to replace paper-based processes in freight transport with electronic alternatives. This shift is not merely about changing the medium of information exchange but also about enhancing the quality, accessibility, and reliability of freight data. “The eFTI Regulation may affect several EU regulations, such as those on combined transport, road cabotage, waste shipment, dangerous goods, aviation safety and rail interoperability, among others” (PierNext, Port de Barcelona).

Traditionally, freight transport information has been heavily reliant on paper documents – a method that, while familiar, is fraught with inefficiencies. Paper documents are easily misplaced, can be slow to process, and often lead to delays and increased administrative burdens. eFTI, by contrast, introduces a streamlined, digital approach. Information is stored and shared electronically, enabling real-time updates, greater transparency, and faster decision-making processes. This digital transformation aligns with broader EU efforts to modernize the transport sector, making it more resilient and efficient.

One of the key technological aspects of eFTI is its interoperability. The system is designed to work seamlessly across various platforms and stakeholders, including transport companies, logistics providers, and regulatory bodies. This compatibility ensures that eFTI can be integrated into existing infrastructures with minimal disruption, facilitating a smoother transition from traditional methods.

Implications for European Transport Professionals

The implementation of eFTI within the European Union carries significant implications for transport professionals. These implications include:

  • Regulatory Compliance: Transport professionals must familiarize themselves with regulations mandating the use of eFTI systems to ensure compliance. This includes understanding the specific data formats required, data sharing protocols, and privacy considerations under EU law. Non-compliance could result in legal repercussions and operational delays.
  • Operational Efficiency: Instant accessibility of data reduces waiting times and speeds up the overall transport process. For logistics companies, this means faster turnaround times and the potential for increased profitability. It also allows for better tracking of goods, improving supply chain visibility and reliability.
  • Training: Transport companies will need get familiarised with the necessary technology and train their staff to adapt to this new system. The challenging aspect of this innovation is that its implementation requires multi-stakeholders agreement to replace the paper documents by electronic data sets. This is why the involvement of governments is critical in its implementation – not only to accept the electronic documents (compulsory as from August 25), but to promote them among the private sector (and potentially even making them compulsory).

 eFTI’s Role in the Maritime Transport Context

The eFTI regulation, due to be fully implemented by August 2024, will streamline information exchange across European transport sectors, except for maritime transport, which is regulated separately by the European Maritime Single Window environment Regulation (EMSWe). While eFTI integrates road, rail, and inland waterway data systems, the EMSWe specifically caters to maritime affairs.

Nevertheless, ports, as multimodal hubs, will still experience indirect impacts from eFTI. Improvements in terrestrial transport data flow could lead to more efficient maritime logistics, particularly in port operations where various transport modes intersect. Professionals in the maritime sector must navigate the EMSWe while acknowledging the complementary role of eFTI within the larger transport ecosystem. The alignment of these digital initiatives is pivotal for advancing a unified, efficient EU transport network.

Concluding thoughts

The eFTI initiative represents more than a mere change in regulation; it is a significant step toward creating a transport ecosystem that is more digital, efficient, and transparent—reflecting the broader shift toward digital transformation in various sectors. It is essential to understand that the eFTI regulation is not just a recommended standard but rather a foundational step in the standardization of digital information across Europe.

Adoption of the eFTI framework by companies as soon as possible is advantageous, as it will substantially alter operational methodologies within the logistics sector. The regulatory framework has been established, and key implementation dates are on the horizon:

  • August 24, 2024: eFTI platforms are eligible to begin their certification process.
  • August 26, 2024: Member State authorities are mandated to start accepting eFTI data.
  • February 29, 2025: The rule mandating the use of eFTI for the private sector will be reconsidered.

In the interim, private entities are encouraged to adopt eFTI protocols, and it is within the purview of individual Member States to enforce eFTI-related obligations within their jurisdictions.

Join us in shaping the future of transport!

We’ve done our research – so should you! Check out our sources below to delve more deeply into the topic:

SOURCES

 

Arificial Intellince

#BlueInnovation: AI – what’s the maritime hype?

Arificial Intellince

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm, its influence is slowly infiltrating all aspects of our society. From healthcare to finance, AI is revolutionizing industries. The maritime sector is no exception. With advancements in technology, AI is transforming maritime transport, leading to improved safety, operational efficiency, and sustainability. In this article, we explore how AI is making waves in the maritime sector and its potential implications.

AI applications in the maritime sector are vast. These include autonomous ships and AI-driven navigation systems that optimize vessel routes, minimize fuel consumption, and enhance safety. AI-powered monitoring and predictive analysis systems contribute to improved maritime safety and security by detecting and mitigating potential risks. Smart port management systems leverage AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline operations, reduce congestion, and optimize resource allocation. Machine Learning makes it all possible. Additionally, AI plays a crucial role in promoting environmental sustainability by optimizing fuel consumption, reducing emissions, and developing cleaner propulsion systems.

Let us take a closer look at some of those:

AI-Driven Navigation and Autonomous Ships:

One of the most profound impacts of AI in the maritime industry is the development of autonomous ships and AI-driven navigation systems. These cutting-edge technologies leverage machine learning algorithms and real-time data to optimize vessel routes, minimize fuel consumption, and enhance safety. AI algorithms analyse historical and real-time data, including weather conditions, traffic patterns, and navigational hazards, to make informed decisions and guide ships more efficiently. This not only reduces human error but also improves operational efficiency, lowers costs, and reduces the industry’s carbon footprint.

Enhancing Maritime Safety and Security:

AI-powered systems are also being used to enable advanced monitoring and predictive analyses. Through the integration of AI algorithms with sensors, cameras, and radar systems, ships can detect and track potential risks in real-time. The computers can help analyse vast amounts of data and identify patterns to predict potential collisions, piracy threats, or hazardous weather conditions. This proactive approach allows for timely responses and mitigates risks, thereby ensuring the safety of crew members, vessels, and cargo.


Machine Learning

Machine learning, a subset of AI, is a critical component in the maritime sector’s transformation. Through machine learning algorithms, ships and port management systems can learn from vast amounts of data, adapt to changing conditions, and make intelligent decisions. Machine learning models analyze historical and real-time data to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies. These insights enable proactive decision-making, such as predicting maintenance needs, optimizing routes, and improving operational efficiency. Machine learning also empowers maritime professionals to make data-driven decisions, improving their situational awareness and enhancing overall performance. By continuously learning and adapting, machine learning algorithms drive innovation and pave the way for more efficient and optimized maritime operations.

Smart Port Management

Ports play a crucial role in the maritime sector, and AI is transforming how they operate. Smart port management systems leverage AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize operations, reduce congestion, and enhance efficiency. AI algorithms analyse data from various sources, such as vessel traffic, cargo handling, and terminal operations, to streamline processes. This enables better resource allocation, optimal berth assignments, and improved supply chain management. By reducing waiting times, optimizing logistics, and improving overall efficiency, AI-powered smart ports contribute to cost savings and a more sustainable maritime sector.

Environmental Sustainability

AI is also instrumental in promoting environmental sustainability within the maritime industry. With growing concerns surrounding climate change, AI-driven technologies are being used to optimize fuel consumption, reduce emissions, and develop cleaner propulsion systems. Machine learning algorithms analyze data from multiple sources, including weather conditions, vessel performance, and fuel consumption patterns, to optimize routes and minimize energy usage. AI-powered systems can also identify potential maintenance issues, leading to proactive repairs and minimizing environmental impact.

Final thoughts

As AI continues to revolutionize the maritime sector, its impact on safety, efficiency, and sustainability is undeniable. Autonomous ships, AI-driven navigation systems, enhanced safety measures, smart port management, and environmental sustainability are just a few examples of how AI is transforming the industry, optimising operations and reducing costs (both financial and environmental). In the future we can expect things like improved predictive analytics, enhanced situational awareness, and increased automation. While AI presents exciting opportunities, it is crucial to address ethical considerations, data privacy concerns, and regulatory frameworks to ensure responsible AI implementation in the maritime sector. With the continued integration of AI, the maritime industry is set to sail into a future marked by unprecedented efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Are we ready for it?

 

More reading:

Immersive learning

Electronic Bills of Lading

Digital documents

Lately there has been a lot of hype about electronic Bills of Lading, which is why we wanted to get back to basics and go over this innovation. So let’s get down to it:

What is the eBL?

The Electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) is an electronic version of the traditional paper-based Bill of Lading used in the shipping industry. The Bill of Lading is a legal document that serves as evidence of the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier, proof of ownership, and acts as a receipt for the goods being transported. In the past, it was always a paper document, but with the advancement of technology, it is now possible to issue transmit, and store it electronically.

The eBL has the potential to revolutionize the shipping industry by reducing the time and cost of handling physical documents, eliminating the risk of loss or damage to paper documents, and enabling faster and more secure transactions. However, the adoption of eBLs has been slow due to various legal, technical, and commercial challenges.

What are the challenges?

Despite their incredible potential, there are challenges that need to be addressed before eBLs can become more widely adopted in the shipping industry. One of the main challenges is the lack of standardization in the use of eBLs. There are currently multiple electronic platforms and technologies available for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs, which can create confusion and inefficiencies for users.

To address this challenge, various industry associations and standards bodies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), have developed guidelines and standards for the use of eBLs. These guidelines aim to promote standardization and interoperability between different electronic platforms and technologies.

A second big challenge is “the difficulty in converting the BL to a digital format without allowing it to be duplicatable (as without proper systems in place it could potentially be duplicated to the infinitum)” – says Jaime Paz from the Ocean Network Express. As the main function of the Bill of Lading is the condition of title of ownership, it is important to ensure that the risk of duplication is minimised or eliminated completely. Today it is possible to have unique digital titles of ownership thanks to blockchain technology, as encryption systems used are strong enough to transfer digital documents without the risk of being duplicated.  As an NFT, eBL is not only a digital file, but the registry of the ownership is implicit in it.  This way, every change in the eBL process can be registered in a blockchain, in which the information is 100% immutable and 100% auditable.

A final challenge is the resistance to change from stakeholders who are accustomed to traditional paper-based processes. Many shippers, carriers, and banks are still hesitant to adopt eBLs due to concerns about the legal validity, security, and reliability of electronic documents.

To address these concerns, industry stakeholders are working to educate and raise awareness about the benefits of eBLs and to provide training and support for users. For example, the International Group of P&I Clubs has developed a training program for its members on the use of eBLs, and various industry associations have organized workshops and seminars to promote the adoption of eBLs. The DCSA (Digital Container Shipping Association) is also working on towards end-to-end digitalisation of the shipping documentation process – having published the DCSA electronic bill of lading (eBL) standards. The goal with these is to ultimately increase transparency, enhance efficiency, and make compliance easier, therewith eliminating paper from international trade.

 

A spotlight on Europe

In recent years, there have been several developments in Europe aimed at promoting the use of eBLs. One of the most significant developments is the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 2017. The MLETR provides a framework for the use of electronic transferable records, including eBLs, and aims to remove legal barriers to their use.

Several European countries have already incorporated the MLETR into their domestic laws, including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. These countries have recognized eBLs as legally valid and enforceable documents, and they have established electronic platforms for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs.

For example, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands launched its blockchain-based platform, DELIVER, in 2019, (now Naviporta) which allows users to issue, transfer, and store eBLs. DELIVER is a joint initiative between the port authority, the municipality of Rotterdam, and various industry stakeholders, and it aims to promote the use of eBLs and other digital solutions in the logistics industry.

Additionally, there have been other developments to help the adoption of eBLs in Europe. One of those was championed by the International Group of P&I Clubs, which represents the world’s major marine insurers. They have issued guidelines for the use of eBLs in the insurance industry, which provide a framework for the issuance, transfer, and storage of eBLs, and they aim to ensure that eBLs are accepted and recognized by insurers.

Final thoughts

Despite the challenges, the adoption of eBLs in Europe is gaining momentum, driven by the potential benefits of faster, cheaper, and more secure transactions. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards digital solutions in the shipping industry, as it has highlighted the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of traditional paper-based processes.

In conclusion, the Electronic Bill of Lading is a promising technology that has the potential to revolutionize the shipping industry by reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and improving security. While there are still challenges to be addressed, the adoption of eBLs in Europe is gaining momentum, driven by the efforts of industry stakeholders to promote standardization, raise awareness, and provide training and support for users. As the use of eBLs becomes more widespread, it is expected to bring significant benefits to the global economy by facilitating faster and more secure international trade transactions.

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Port Digitalisation

Maritime Connectivity – what it means for the Mediterranean

Eduard Rodés,Director - Escola Europea - Intermodal Transporrt

Commentary by: Eduard Rodés,
Director – Escola Europea – Intermodal Transporrt

We live in an increasingly digital world – there is no doubt about that. Digital literacy and technical capabilities are skills that are now indispensable in employees in all sectors. But what geographical regions? The situation (in terms of skills, capabilities and infrastructures) in Spain is doubtlessly different from the situation in Tunis, just like the situation in Tunis is different from the situation in Bali. The countries’ individual geopolitical and industrial statuses affect how plugged in the countries can be to the globalised industries.

This brings me to a report that I wanted to share with you that CETMO has carried out on the maritime connectivity in the GTMO region. You can read our brief summary below, and then head to the CETMO website for the full report!

I highly recommend it! 

A summary of the “Maritime Connectivity in the GTMO Region: Current Situation and Future Prospects” report by CETMO

This report was produced by the Centre for Transportation Studies for the Mediterranean Region (CETMO) in collaboration with the Western Mediterranean Group Of Transport Ministries (GTMO 5+5). It examined the current state of maritime connectivity in the GTMO region (which includes countries in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and Caspian Sea areas[1]) and provided recommendations for improvement in the future.

Key Findings:

The GTMO region is a major hub for international maritime trade. Even so, significant gaps in maritime connectivity within the region have been identified, particularly in terms of digital connectivity and the integration of different transport modes. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity and the need for greater investment in infrastructure and technology to support remote operations and data exchanges.

The report identified several key challenges and opportunities for improving maritime connectivity in the region:

  1. One of the main challenges is the digital divide between countries in the region, which can hinder the exchange of data and information among different actors in the maritime sector. The report recommended a range of measures, including increasing investment in port and logistics infrastructure, improving digital connectivity and data exchange, promoting the integration of different transport modes, and addressing regulatory barriers;
  2. Another challenge is the fragmentation of transport modes and logistics systems in the region, which can result in inefficiencies and higher costs for shippers and carriers. The report recommended promoting greater integration between different transport modes, such as rail and inland waterways, to improve the connectivity of the region and facilitate the movement of goods.
  3. The report also highlighted the importance of regulatory frameworks in facilitating or hindering maritime connectivity in the region. Some countries have regulatory frameworks that are favourable to investment and trade, while others have more restrictive policies that can discourage investment and limit market access. The report recommended promoting greater regulatory harmonization and cooperation between countries in the region to create a more conducive environment for investment and trade.

Conclusion:

Improving maritime connectivity in the GTMO region is essential for supporting economic growth, improving trade flows, and enhancing the resilience of supply chains in the face of future shocks such as pandemics or geopolitical tensions. To achieve this, a comprehensive approach that considers the diverse needs and capabilities of different countries and stakeholders is needed, one that involves governments, private sector stakeholders, and international organisations. By working together to address the challenges facing maritime connectivity, the region can enhance its economic competitiveness, promote sustainable development, and improve the resilience of its supply chains in the face of future shocks.

[1] Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia

Commercial Container Ship

HydroPen: A solution to container fires?

Ever since man was able to transport goods by sea, hazards and dangers have existed to the cargo involved. Starting from the ancient Greeks, the design and size of ships continued to evolve to match the demand that was growing in an increasingly connected society. In the 20th century sea transport became more even extensive as our society became more globalised and technology more developed.

There is no doubt that cargo transport by sea has drastically evolved over the years. However, as with anything, with larger volumes and varieties of goods carried, more risk emerged. Container fires are unfortunately very common – today they happen on average every 66 days. It is up to industry experts to try to figure out a way to prevent or contain catastrophes – and it looks like the Danish company Viking has come up with a solution that will help shippers mitigate such risks with the HydroPen.

History of container fires

Whenever a large fire breaks out aboard a ship, the cargo on board is determined to be the cause. The contents of containers can shift around, burn, explode or even liquify if proper storage and handling is not carried out.

Following many disasters at sea that caused either massive losses in life or in cargo, the International Maritime Organization came up with regulations to try to prevent or minimise such disasters in 1958. Because of this, a lot of dangerous freight can be tracked. Freightwaves reports that today, 10% of 60 million of maritime containers moved globally are declared as dangerous goods under the IMO regulations. Unfortunately, 1/5th of those are either poorly packed or incorrectly identified – therewith increasing risk of container fires and potential maritime disasters.

Common causes of container fires

There have been quite a few large container fires in recent history. The first step to eliminating such disasters would be for the industry to identify the risks, follow the safety standards, and develop feasible fire prevention and containment technologies.

The most common cause of container fire continues to be misdeclaration of container cargo. This could be assigned to either clerical errors or to nefarious activities, but in both cases can lead to huge destructions of property and a loss of life. Another cause could be improper container storage. In the past, dangerous seas have caused shifts in improperly secured containers aboard ships, which then resulted in fires or explosions. Finally, the third most common cause is improper fire containment, control equipment and staff training. Better fire-fighting equipment on board the ships, with crew that is fully trained in its usage, could help offset the fire risks at sea.

Other common causes of ship fires can be assigned to:

  • Engine malfunction
  • Improper electrical wiring
  • Improper handling of kitchen equipment on board of vessels
  • Mislabelled combustible cargo

Industry solutions

After each catastrophe, industry partners and insurance companies have tried to carry out analyses to determine what the causes were, and thus help prevent similar fiascos in the future. Many insurance companies have already stressed the need to promote better ship designs and fire-fighting equipment to help the crew manage any potential misfortunes (Allianz Global).

New technologies seem to be the answer. Recently, the Nordic company Viking has come up with a new tool – the HydroPen – which has promising potential. This tool is an “innovative, water-based drilling machine that enables crew to effectively and efficiently fight container fires high up in the stack.” It consists of two components – a lift to raise a drill or spray unit to the location of a fire and the unit itself.

How does it work?

In the event of a fire inside a container on board of a ship, the HydroPen can drill through a standard container door or wall. It then can use a special hose, which is connected to the vessel’s fire main. Using pressurised water, it can spray the insides of the container and put out the fire before it can spread beyond the container (causing more damage to other cargo and potentially the vessel itself. With proper training, this tool could potentially prevent large maritime disasters.

For more videos on how the HydroPen works, you can also head to the Viking YouTube channel.
 

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that the shipping industry continues to evolve – with larger distances, larger shipments, and a larger variety of cargo. For the shipping industry to remain safe and efficient, it needs highly trained staff that know how to protect the cargo during the vessel trajectories, employees that know how to properly label cargo, and innovative technological solutions that can help mitigate any potential risks that may arise from circumstances out of our control.

Vessel operations are highly complex. At the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport we offer an array of courses that can help you expand your knowledge of the industry from the perspective of the shipper, the freight forwarder, the port authority and the end client. If you are interested in knowing more, you can check out our available courses or contact us directly for more information.

Sources:

Green hydrogen ‘comes back to the future’

Green hydrogen as a source of fuel can be essential for decarbonizing the transport sector, especially for covering the limitations of electric solutions and other clean energies, since it is found easily and thanks to the increase of research projects worldwide, green H is getting cheaper.

Anthony-Rampersad_Unsplash_Green Hydrogen

What is ‘Green Hydrogen’?

Green Hydrogen is a source of energy that has no colour, no odour or taste, is abundant and it does not emit any carbon dioxide emissions when used to power fuel cells.

There are different types of hydrogen and every type has its characteristics; they’re essentially colour codes, used within the energy industry to mark each type of hydrogen.It can be grey, blue, green, brown and even yellow and pink, depending on the type of products used, different colours are assigned to the hydrogen.

As the iconic movie trilogy of the mid-’80s “Back to the future” predicted, we can say that hydrogen “comes back to the future”.

Many factors make this raw material so appealing as a great alternative in comparison to electric and carbon fuels. And especially, now is the time to incentivise green fuels as the need for decarbonising the planet is one of the goals that countries around the world have set for 2050, especially the European Union.

How does Green Hydrogen work?

As explained before, hydrogen has no colour, but the name of the colour is given by the type of waste in the production process. Grey and blue come from fossil fuels that generate CO2, and the resulting emissions are captured, stored and not released into the atmosphere. Pink hydrogen comes through electrolysis powered by nuclear energy, yellow is a relatively new phrase for hydrogen made through electrolysis using solar power. Brown hydrogen is made using black coal or lignite (brown coal), these black and brown hydrogen are the opposite of green hydrogen in the hydrogen spectrum and the most environmentally damaging – whereas green hydrogen does not generate any emission neither in the production process nor the combustion.

Green Hydrogen is produced with no harmful greenhouse gas emissions and is generated by using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to electrolyse water. Electrolysers use an electrochemical reaction to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, emitting zero-carbon dioxide in the process, according to National Grid information.

How can the transport sector make use of green hydrogen?

Since the transport sector represents the source of one-third of total CO2 emissions in Europe, it could benefit from the renewed attention on hydrogen to replace fossil fuels and meet the European Union decarbonisation goals. This way it could be a lead actor in the transport sector where batteries are an impracticable solution to substitute fossil fuels powering ferries, coasting trade or inland waterways and in rail applications.

Currently, the production of green hydrogen represents a small percentage of the overall, this is due to the elevated costs of production. Green hydrogen will come down in price as it becomes more common, providing an answer to one of the great challenges facing the energy sector. Developing systems to store surplus energy from renewables on a large scale, reduce Europe’s energy dependence, and cover gap areas since electric energy cannot be used in all transport systems as in maritime transport.

What are the obstacles to using green hydrogen?

So, can green hydrogen be implemented right away in the transportation sector? One of the biggest barriers to the adoption of this fuel for the transport sector comes from the low supply, since FC vehicles are expensive, although mass-production could reduce costs, as well as the difficulties of mass market diffusion in hydrogen storage. If applied in the current scenario of mass production vehicles for transport and fuels, hydrogen could reach areas where batteries and electric energy sources cannot cover.

Application in maritime transport

One of the major consumers of oil products and heavy fuels is the maritime sector, harming the quality of air, especially around ports. If applied to the engines of the maritime transport sector, green hydrogen could reduce not only emissions during sea navigation, but also those deriving from port operations.

In the last year, there have been some steps towards creating the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship. Implementing this technology on ships, ferries and other coastal crafts could strongly reduce CO2 emissions.

Application in rail transport

Currently, it is difficult to electrify certain sections of railway lines on which fossil fuel-powered trains are used. Hydrogen trains are considered competitive for those railway sections that don’t depend on electric energy, with a low frequency of service and operate on long distances. These conditions are frequent in rail transport, making hydrogen rail mobility interesting from an economic point of view and an excellent opportunity to further decarbonise public transport, according to Enea, (Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile).

 

Certainly, we will see green hydrogen powering sectors that strongly depend on carbon fuels as companies and countries meet the goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in the maritime and rail transport sectors. This is without a doubt a comeback to clean and essential sources of energy and as the famous DeLorean from the film, engines will be using clean hydrogen to keep up the pace.

 

Sources:

The hydrogen colour spectrum | National Grid Group

 Hydrogen and “green transport” – EAI (enea.it)

Green Hydrogen: an essential element for decarbonization (cepsa.com)

Alternative Fuels Data Center: Hydrogen Benefits and Considerations (energy.gov)

 

Eco-innovation at the heart of Europe

Written by: Lidia Slawinska

Written by: Lidia Slawinska – Digital Communications Manager Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

There is little doubt that innovation is today’s “big thing”. The fast advancement of technologies, the increasing digitalisation taking place across all industries, and the ever-more encompassing dual lives that individuals lead in the physical and digital stratospheres have accelerated innovative progress. At the same time, the world has also began to recognise the importance of sustainability in the protection of our planet and began to plan for alternatives that would help us maintain our current global operations and life-styles whilst diminishing the pejorative impact that they have had on our earth since the Industrial era began.

These two concepts have recently given rise to a new idea – that of “eco-innovation”. In this Blue Innovation article we will look at how the European Union has embraced this concept in efforts to measure and map the progress of its member states in innovative methods to work to achieve the sustainability targets it has set itself for the coming decades.

What is “Eco-Innovation” exactly?

The term, which first appeared in 1996 in a book written by Claude Fussler and Peter James “Driving Eco-Innovation,” can be understood as a general approach to foster environmentally friendly progress in modern societies. At its core are specific efforts made by the parties that aim to reduce the environmental harm done in their societies – be it through ideas, products, societal behaviours, or industrial or operational processes. It is key to the European Union’s Green Deal and towards promoting and ensuring green growth in the 21st century.

The “Eco-Innovation Index”

The European Commission’s Eco-Innovation Plan was first adopted in 2011. In the plan, the Commission defined the term as “any innovation that makes progress towards the goal of sustainable development by reducing impacts on the environment, increasing resilience to environmental pressures or using natural resources more efficiently and responsibly” (Source: Decision N° 1639/2006/EC establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme – accessed online on 10th Dec 2021). Over the first decade of its existence the Commission created a system to measure the innovative progress of its partners through the Eco-Innovation Index. The subsequent system, which includes the Eco-Innovation Scoreboard alongside the Index, captures the varying aspects of the member states’ eco-innovations by measuring 16 different indicators that are grouped into 5 categories:

  • Eco-innovation inputs (this includes government environmental energy investments and outlays, total number of R&D personnel, etc.)
  • Eco-innovation activities (this includes number of ISO 14001 certificates, the implementation of sustainable products among small to medium-sized enterprises, etc.)
  • Eco-innovation outputs (this includes sustainability-related patents, academic publications and media coverage, etc.)
  • Resource efficiency (this includes material, water and energy productivity, the intensity of GHG emissions, etc.)
  • Socio-economic outcomes (this includes export of products from sustainable industries, % of employment in environmental protection, etc.)

By collating the results, the experts working on the Eco-Innovation Index can identify the successes and drawbacks that some member states have had on their journeys towards green growth.

The purpose of this tool is not to shame or identify what countries may be failing in their efforts, but rather to provide a neutral and analytical view on the overall environmental, societal and economic situation in the EU member states.

A decade of progress

Since record-keeping began under this programme, the overall performance of the EU member states in eco-innovation steadily improved. Looking at the summaries of the results reported on the EU’s Eco-Innovation website, it can be seen that most improvements were seen in:

  • Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially when looking at energy productivity and efficiency
  • An increase in public awareness brought by intensified media coverage of topics that focused on eco-innovative processes and developments
  • An increase in investments in R&D research, which in certain states came from both public and private sources.

From the data it is evident that not all countries have had similar successes in advancing their environmental achievements over the past decade. The EU’s tool allows us to take an analytical look across all countries to monitor their developments and perhaps identify the drawbacks and bottlenecks that may be hindering further progress. Every year the organisation issues a new report with a list of leaders, average performers and countries that are catching up – and this list has slightly fluctuated year by year depending on that countries’ policies and advances. In 2021 the “Eco-Innovation Leaders” – the top 5 highest scoring member states – were Luxembourg, Finland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden.

The Eco-Innovation Index is not a solution to Europe’s green growth agenda – rather it serves more as an diagnostic tool that allows both the EU and national governments to identify potential areas of growth in order to evolve and innovate further. If you are interested, head to the Eco-Innovation website and have a look at the evolution of the Index’s performance in the 27 member states for yourself: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecoap/indicators/index_en

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