Posts to appear on the #DidYouKnow section of the website

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.

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Why are shortsea shipping routes on trend?

In 2021 Shortsea Shipping recorded an 11.7% increase over 2020, and managed to surpass 2019’s figures, when 269 million tons were moved, according to Shortsea data.

The so called ‘Butterfly effect’ that has is origin from the Chinese proverb: “The flapping of a butterfly’s wings can be felt on the other side of the world.” It can be used to illustrate the causes and changes that led to the increase of short sea shipping traffic and routes in the Mediterranean. This led to the need for specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains.

Several factors have influenced this upward trend in short sea shipping, mainly the shortage of truck drivers and the relocation of production from Asia to Africa or even Europe and thus changing the maritime trade routes.

Why this?

Shortage of truck drivers

One of the factors responsible relies on the global shortage of truck drivers, specifically, 2.6 million jobs were left unfilled worldwide in 2021, according to the Driver Shortage Global Report 2022: Summary.

Some of the reasons why truck driver positions are disappearing are: the difficulty finding operational workforce, since the average age for truck drivers is 55 years, in addition to being a profession that requires long periods away from home, which is a hindrance for the younger generations, who are more aware of the need for work-life balance. These reasons are compounded by the lack of female drivers and the lack of training and, therefore, of qualified drivers.

In addition to this, restrictions and problems for supply chain worldwide led to a shift in lower risk production locations, increasing local production.

Supply chain shifts and energetic dependency

China’s zero covid policy have aggravated problems in supply chains worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, and have had a direct or indirect impact on European industries, which have opted on the recovery of production in Europe and America to the detriment of Asia.

Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made clear that the only way to be energy independent is through renewable energies, therefore decarbonizing the transport sector.

Beyond being on trend, the shortsea shipping routes have proven to be the most effective solution to these disruptions, being not only strategic for industries but more sustainable in the short and long term. Facing global supply chain adaptations, energy dependency issues and the urgent need to decarbonize the sector, as well as the need for qualified workforce for intermodal transport, see highway in the Mediterranean are becoming great commercial routes.

Therefore, more and more specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains might be needed because of this changing scenario.

Shortsea Shipping Transport Talent

In a short future scenario companies form the logistics and transportation sector might need more qualified talent capable of managing intermodal transportation logistics chains, as this is the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option.  Trainings like Most Iberia are top gear and economical options for professionals or companies seeking to specialize its personnel with the latest trends and topics in the sector.

Source: El renacer comercial de las autopistas del mar | Actualidad Económica (elmundo.es)
PORT VIRTUAL LAB_Simulators_training_Escola Europea

Virtualization and simulation at the Escola Europea’s Portvirtuallab.com

The development of advanced computer systems is enabling new ways of interacting and learning via simulators: a trendy learning environment that enhances learners’ experiences.

Some logistics organizations are betting heavily on technology, either to improve their competitiveness in an increasingly digital world, for mimicry with other similar companies in the sector or for fear of being left behind in the new relationship models between operators.

The adoption of simulators and virtual reality for initial and continuing education allows trainees to gain hands-on work experience in a remote, risk-free environment; it enables them to solve problems more effectively, ultimately improving customer experiences. These immersive programs have much broader use, as they can enable participants to develop skills for career advancement.

PORT VIRTUAL LAB_Simulators_training_Escola Europea

Simulators open the door to new possibilities and innovative ways to leverage digital learning solutions, within a larger ecosystem. The virtual simulator creates a digital world in which users can interact, collaborate, practice and solve problems. It is ideal for corporate and collaborative learning, providing learners with the tools they need to succeed while allowing them to manage their own learning experience.

Digital disruption and simulators

Learning moves into what would be neuro-linguistic programming, as the learner experiences the experience as a reality. The learner is in the space and work environment in which we can transfer the knowledge and procedures to successfully perform the operations. It is the closest thing to the realization of an internship in a company. If this is complemented by a teacher who accompanies him/her in the realization of the activities, not directly but by giving support, when necessary, it allows an enriching experience.

The learner’s activity in their virtual work environment and how they access information will help them identify opportunities where their experience can be improved.

From there, it is about enabling the learner to find what they need and when they need it. Rather than prescribing an end-to-end learning journey, as in traditional courses, embrace the chaos. Today’s learners know how and where to find the knowledge they are looking for.

Virtual training opens the door to new possibilities for training at a time when the winds are blowing in favour of innovation. With advances in technology progressing along with a culture that is increasingly accepting of remote learning and other digital initiatives, now is the perfect time to begin formulating a virtual simulator strategy for organizations.

A success story: training for students of the Master’s in International Trade at the University of Barcelona.

 

In the month of May 2022, a course was held for students from the University of Barcelona. A “Practicum” for those who chose to do their master’s final project using the training platform Port Virtual Lab (PVL) developed by the Escola Europea together with the company Click&Cargo. The course achieved spectacular results. Thirty students from 10 different countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia wanted to take part in this immersive experience of international trade.

 

University of Barcelona_PVL Port Virtual Lab_

 

The goals for the course were:

  • Develop economic analysis skills to better understand international trade as an important and formative element.
  • Promote the presentation of simulated scenarios to participants to develop and refine their knowledge of international logistics and transport operations.
  • Stimulate the responsible and autonomous development of the student so that he/she can acquire fluency in problem-solving and decision-making in the face of unforeseen circumstances, incidents and conflicts produced by the dynamics of the company and its interactions with clients and suppliers.
  • Encourage teamwork and working with remote teams in the conduct of international trade operations.

The course developed theoretical sessions on the following topics:

  • Carrier and logistics operator
  • ERP for carriers
  • Market research
  • Commercial, transport, customs.
  • Contracts and Incoterms
  • Freight list
  • Tariff classification
  • Intermodal transport
  • Dangerous goods
  • Single Administrative Document (SAD)
  • Supply chains.

For the training of these students, the immersive technology facilitated by PVL  was used and allowed to turn around and change the paradigm of hands-on training by implementing a comprehensive training suite using the simulation platform to move the training sessions to a fully virtual environment. The hands-on experience and the instructor remained the same, but by adding a virtual reality layer it was possible to hold the session in a completely digital and risk-free environment. In addition, trainees could participate from anywhere, although this time the training was held at the Escola Europea facilities in Barcelona.

In addition to learning new procedures, participants were able to practice their techniques with simulated companies. Since the software automatically tracks useful metrics so that trainees know exactly what operations they have pending.

 

The final result was comprehensive: hands-on training without having to leave the digital world. The trainees went through the commercial, operations, financial administration and quality modules. They had to interact with teams operating in other countries (in this case simulated) and complete operations from start to finish.

And in the end, they had to submit a report justifying all the operations carried out.

 

Results were satisfactory, and students rated the course with a score of 4.75 out of 5, which is an excellent outcome.

Conclusion: At the intersection of simulated, virtual and reality

 

The reason why learning and training with simulators are so effective is that it offers all the advantages of digital learning (ease, “computerization” and remote collaboration) without any of the previous drawbacks that distinguish virtual from reality.

 

As these two fields begin to blend, it is to be expected that greater training opportunities will emerge, and the Escola Europea wants to be a protagonist in this progress that will allow for the development of more prepared and sustainable logistic-port communities.

 

Eduard Rodés

Director

Escola Europea

 

#DidYouKnow – The increasing threat of cyber attacks on ports

Living in an increasingly digitised world has decreased distances between countries. The world doesn’t seem to be vast anymore – countries in the northern hemisphere can get tropical fruits from the southern hemisphere (and vice versa) at a few days’ notice. Communication between different countries has become instantaneous. The increasing innovations have made our planet seem a lot smaller.

The port sector has also been riding this innovation wave. In the final years of the twentieth century, and in the first decades of the twenty first century, ports have been going through a digital transformation to keep up with any new challenges, optimising their operations and creating new strategies (including automation, RFID tagging, etc). All of this has been centred on the ability to interconnect information technologies and operation technologies, cloud computing, the internet of things, big data, among others.

All this modernisation has come at a price – and digital innovation has given rise to cyber threats and cyber-attacks. This has not left any industries unaffected. Ports, as vital infrastructure points to nation-states – have become frequent targets to both national, international and clandestine attacks. During their own digitalisation efforts, ports need to ensure that cybersecurity stays at the forefront, whilst being considered a facilitator of automation and future developments. The transition into the digital sphere has thus morphed into cybersecurity challenges that ports need to address before realising the complete potential of innovative technologies. This is why we decided to deal with cybersecurity in ports for this month’s #DidYouKnow article.

What kinds of cyber threats exist for ports?

Making sure that ports are safe from cyber threats is critical towards ensuring safe and secure operations of ships both at sea and onshore. This is not a new issue – the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has already adopted various resolutions that aim to minimize (if not eliminate) cyber risks in the maritime industry. For example, under the IMO’s resolution MSC.428(98), port administrations need to ensure that the systems that are in place in their communities appropriately address any risks or security concerns for vessels that may exist in cyberspace. This is because port operations are vital in international and national maritime trade. It is within their boundaries that vessels arrive, load, and unload their cargoes, top up fuel, and carry out other vital information towards the proper functioning of the global supply chain.

In the modern digital world, port cybersecurity must be seen as a top priority for any transport operation

There are many types of cyber risks that can affect ports and their operations. These can be grouped the following 7 categories (which are by no means finite as the digital sphere is a constantly evolving creature).

  • Eavesdropping, interception, hijacking -This group of risks includes, but is not limited to, incidents such as the interception of emissions, sensitive information, network reconnaissance, network traffic manipulation, etc.
  • Nefarious activity & abuse – This group of risks includes, but is not limited to, incidents such as the denial of service, malware, brute force, identity theft, phishing, targeted attacks, abuse and theft of data, manipulation of information, etc.
  • Disaster – These risks can emerge as a result of environmental disasters, natural disasters, etc.
  • Unintentional damage – These can include the use of unreliable sources, erroneous administration of IT/OT systems, information leakage, among others.
  • Failures and Malfunctions – Any information system always has the potential to fail or malfunction. This group of risks includes failures to systems, devices, navigation and communication systems, main supply systems, failure or disruption of service providers, etc.
  • Outages – As information and digital systems depend on the energy grids, these risks include any possible main supply outages, network outages, absence of personnel, loss of support, etc.
  • Physical attacks – perhaps the group most associated with the general term of “cyberattacks”. This category includes fraud, sabotage, vandalism, theft, unauthorised access, terrorism, hacktivism, piracy, coercion, extortion, or corruption

What are the legal frameworks?

IMO Resolutions

Providing worldwide cybersecurity guidance for ports is the International Maritime Organization. Various resolutions have already been passed by the organisation to try to create standards for ports and shipping lines to follow to ensure maximum cyber security and cyber regulatory frameworks that minimise the risks for all parties, including ISO/IEC 27001 and the Guidelines on Cyber Security on Board Ships.

SOLAS

SOLAS – or the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea – is a treaty that has established the minimum safety standards for shipping. It covers requirements for equipment, construction, and the general operation of vessels. It has been adopted by over 150 nation-states. In terms of cyber security, its Chapter IX — Management for the Safe Operation of Ships — requires every shipping line and any person or company that is responsible for a vessel to comply with the International Safety Management Code (ISM). This code has been adapted to include sections on cybersecurity concerns.

ENISA

ENISA is the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity. In 2019 its position was strengthened with the EU Cybersecurity Act, which also defined a general framework for Information, Communication and Technology products, processes, and services. All EU member states need to comply with the ENISA requirements, though there are some that have also adopted their own national initiatives to further shield themselves from cyber risks. This includes the French CIIP law, the German “IT-Grundschutz” and the UL Cyber Security Code of Practices, among others.

 

Conclusions

This #DidYouKnow article is by no means an extensive deep-dive into the world of cyber security – as it is a very broad and complex topic that only specialised cyber professionals could explain. It does offer, nevertheless, a glimpse into the complexity of issues that arose with the digitalisation of our modern world.

Ports are not immune to the cyber risks, no matter how digitised and seemingly prepared they are. Most of such attacks involve people and fragmented system landscapes, and therefore every port community is potentially at risk. The digital divide shouldn’t be ignored – and the fact that the maritime world is central to keeping global supply chains moving and thus is crucial to information exchanges associated with them further highlights the shared nature of cybersecurity risks. Therefore, for the maritime world to function effectively, the management of cyber risks must be carried out properly and shared with all stakeholders, ranging from port authorities, shipping operators, port facilities and terminals, maritime agencies, customs agents and maritime law enforcement agencies. The cyberworld does not have physical borders, and therefore the mitigation of any threats there is trickier.

Cybersecurity in port operations is no easy (nor isolated) feat. It is essential for all partners involved in transport operations to be aware of the risks involved and to learn to take the necessary steps to prevent or stop any potential threats that may develop. This includes following good practices that certain port operators may establish to reach a baseline of cybersecurity. In 2020, the port industry has faced a fourfold increase in cyber attacks against OT systems (a fourfold increase from 2017). Cyber-attacks are unfortunately becoming common. Therefore it is important to note that, at the end of the day, port operations and cybersecurity in the twenty first century are two sides of the same coin.

Intrigued? The Escola Europea is organising a summer school in port operations – with a focus on vessels and goods that are processed through the Port of Barcelona in the month of July. In the course we go over all the aspects of port operations, including the new cyber threats and their mitigation procedures. Check out the programme on our website.

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The Little Prince

Let’s learn together

On the 15th anniversary of the Escola Europea…

The Little Prince

-“Farewell,” said the little prince sadly.

-“Farewell,” said the fox. “Here is my secret:

Only with the heart can one see well; the most important is invisible to the eyes”.

-“Only with the heart… What is most important is invisible to the eyes….”

– repeated the little prince to remind himself.

-“What makes your rose important is the time you have devoted to it.”

-“It is the time I have devoted to it…” repeated the little prince in order to remember it.

-“Men have forgotten this great truth,” said the fox. “You must not forget it! You are responsible, forever, for what you have cared for. You are responsible for your rose…..”

-“I am responsible for my rose!” -repeated the little prince to remind himself of it.

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

“We learn together” is a declaration of principles and an arrow into the heart of someone who has dedicated a large part of their professional life to education and training.  In 2017, the BBVA bank, in collaboration with the Spanish newspaper El País, launched the educational project “Let’s learn together”, which aimed to pave the way for a better life, and which materialised in a series of easily accessible videos on the internet featuring interviews, stories and workshops with the participation of well-known people in the field of education, teachers, intellectuals and a long etcetera. It was a marvel that I recommend without reservation. In one of them, Nuccio Ordine, a professor at the University of Calabria and writer, takes part. In a brilliant talk, he quotes several times from The Little Prince to refer to the relationship between people and the cultivation of these relationships. In doing so, he refers to the passage of the encounter between the little prince and the desert fox. I wanted to begin this article by taking the last part of the encounter in which beautiful things happen. The first thing is that it tells us is that what is most important is invisible to our eyes. We already knew that, but we need to be reminded of it often so as not to forget it.  Secondly, that what is important is what we have dedicated our time to, the scarcest and most precious resource we have.  And that when we have established an emotional bond with the other, we are also responsible for it.

Think for a moment that the rose is our Port Community. With it, with its members, we can have a distant and indefinite relationship. Or, alternatively, a close relationship with strong ties in which we recognise and need each other. One in which we collaborate and help each other, without ceasing to compete in what we must compete in. To get to know each other we have to spend time with each other in reciprocity, including education.

To build this relationship we need time, rituals, symbols, and values to share and to recognise each other. I hardly ever talk about time because it is generally interpreted from the point of view of the priority that we give to things. In other words, we have time for what interests us, and we prioritise it as such. Rituals, on the other hand are more subtle. They are articulated by joint activities that are carried out. Here I would highlight the Port Community Governing Council. The working groups that have sprouted over the years play a fundamental role. One of the most effective, in my opinion, groups is the Telematic Forum, to which I belonged for many years, and which plays a fundamental coordinating role in the smooth running of the sector’s operations. In recent years, I have promoted what is now the Occupation and Training Working Group, in which the main actors of a Port Logistics Community participate and are represented together with representatives from the world of employment and education – members who have never before maintained a direct and continuous link with the port. This benefits everyone. It is a clear example of the PPP (public private partnership) that has characterised the way many of the western port communities have operated in terms of port development investments for decades. And it is through these groups that we can say that we learn together.

I have long maintained that these relationships produce synapses and shape a collective intelligence that enriches us and makes us stronger. The Port of Barcelona‘s Strategic Plan identifies competition between gateway logistics chains as the fundamental factor for the future. In my opinion, this involves competition between logistics-port communities, which must be capable of creating solutions that adapt to the needs of each moment, through a dynamic disappearance process, and altered to the evolutionary needs of the market. This is something that John Gattorna defined as living supply chains. These communities must increasingly become so, also from an international point of view. Our trade missions must serve to promote real cooperation between operators in each port. This will certainly involve setting up systems that allow for permanent and sustained contact over time.  The recent cooperation agreement between the Port of Barcelona and the Port of Busan in South Korea serves as a good example of the start of a network with such characteristics.

In 2022 an event took place that I believe will mark a turning point in relations in the world of education and that will become a symbol in time. With the start of a new academic year it was announced that, after the summer, a public high school will be set up in the port. It will offer a higher degree in logistics, transport and international trade. It will extend the training to cover everything from initial training to occupational training. My idea for this institute in the port is that companies should be involved from the beginning. The training should be dual, and students should do part of their training inside the companies. It will also be essentials for the teachers to be able to make short visits to the companies to meet the people who manage them and to discover their day-to-day operations first-hand. Moreover, the professionals from these companies should also be occasional teachers at the high school. This would allow the students to gain knowledge directly from the sources of the information.

Ideally I would also like for it to be a great centre of education that defends values. That we would all be able to learn and educate together, with shared responsibilities and commitment. At the Escola we have always said that we provide education and values that identify with creativity, innovation, dialogue, self-determination, work, commitment to people and the environment, and knowledge. We hope that we can help everyone share such goals’ and that the effort will make us stand out for having tried to do things well.

“My flower perfumed my planet …

I couldn’t understand anything then! I should have judged her by her actions and not by her words. She perfumed and illuminated my life! I shouldn’t have run away! I didn’t know how to recognise the tenderness behind her poor astuteness! Flowers are so contradictory! And… I was too young to know how to love her”.

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Learning and moving forward together is the challenge that we must work towards, because together we are strong. Building our Community has to be a priority and that means dedicating time and effort to it. We need to be aware of its contradictions and shortcomings, and appreciate what it does for us. Even if we may find it hard to recognise and sometimes only become aware when we go out to other ports in the world. We have a treasure that we must nurture in order to continue learning together.

Escola Europea takes a closer look at Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labs

With the first six months of the EU-funded TechLog project finishing, the technical aspects of the premise of the project take a more central stage. Orlando Reveco, from the Escola Europea, helps us understand what Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labss are in an in-depth interview about these innovative characteristics of research and education.

Q:Can you please tell me a little bit about your background, and how you will be involved in the TechLog project over the next few years?

A: I have had the opportunity of being closely linked to the technological world for many years in which I worked in companies that focus on finding technological solutions for all kinds of issues. Across the development of my professional career, I have also had the opportunity to cooperate in various educational projects. I have seen first-hand how such a cooperation between the use of technology in training activities yields better results and becomes a powerful force that can accelerate economic growth.

TechLog presents an opportunity to expand my knowledge and use my experience to benefit a project oriented in the exchange of technology for the development of an area that is increasingly important. Being part of a team that will help prepare professionals capable of facing the challenges of the coming years and establish a permanent cross-border EU-Med area where organisations and port authorities co-create and share new technology transfers initiatives, is a great personal motivation for me.

Q: Could you explain what Technology Transfer Initiatives and Living Labs are for the “uninitiated”?

A: Technology transfer initiatives are processes that help disseminate technology from the individual or organisation that owns or holds it to another individual or organisation, therewith helping transform inventions and scientific outcomes into new products and services that benefit society at large.

 They represent an invaluable opportunity where knowledge and practice exchanges in professional environments, designed by organisations with a lot of educational experience and logistics operators, will take place and will allow all parties to be part of a project without borders in which they will be able to establish a network and share practical experiences, therewith increasing their chances of success in the future.

 A living lab on the other hand is a research concept, which may be defined as a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem that integrates contemporaneous research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership.

There are no limitations to the advantages that these types of initiative can provide, especially in regional exchange scenarios where the personal development of its participants will inevitably become the success of the objectives proposed by the international project.

Q: The Escola Europea has begun developing the Port Virtual Lab platform over the past two years. How can this platform help TechLog achieve its goals?

A: Port Virtual Lab is a very complete project that offers technological educational development tools. Initially, we talked about a platform that was to be used as a meeting point for all those who have knowledge and professional development needs in the international transportation and logistics environment – and now it has morphed into a teaching tool that is used to replicate real-life port and logistics operations in the Escola’s courses.

 It is for this reason that PortVirtual Lab and TechLog will have no problem working together, as both of them are fundamentally complete tools and platforms that work towards the development of advanced academic content, and which are endorsed by organisations with long and recognised records.

Q: How effective do you think are virtual simulators in imitating reality, especially when it comes to training?

Virtual simulators not only capture the interest of the person who uses them, but in my opinion they can represent a new way of turning hours of theoretical and practical experiences in the classroom into fun experiences – all of which encourage immersive learning.

 Carrying out training for future logistics operators in innovative virtual reality systems allows them to get to know the environment where they will carry out their activities and experience situations that they may probably find but that are difficult to replicate in a real environment – and it does so safely without peril to real-life clients and supply chain operations.

Q: How common would you say is it currently in Mediterranean countries to use simulation practices in the field of transport? What do you think is(are) contributing factors to this?

I am completely sure that it will be an increasingly recurrent practice. The demand for services in the logistics and transport sector in the Mediterranean increases every year and this can only mean that every day more and better-trained personnel will be needed to meet the ever-changing requirements and reach geographical and environmental goals and standards.

Training must be accompanied by a methodology that allows us to focus on the necessary procedures and can be adapted to the work schemes of each port community; it is a flexibility that only the use of systems with these characteristics can offer.

 This is a way to achieve common work operations processes where all Mediterranean members have an equal footing.

Education, a passport to innovation and success

Anwar Zibaoui

Written by: Anwar Zibaoui

While unemployment continues to follow an upward curve, a large majority of companies complain of talent shortages, and of having difficulty finding candidates with the right set of skills.

The education systems of many Mediterranean countries are producing many graduates with skills that do not match those demanded by businesses and which are needed in a competitive labour market. We are talking about a generation of graduates without adequate training and skills to contribute productively to the modern-day economy.

To solve this pressing issue, governments, businesses and the education world must join forces to align skills with needs. Businesses can play an important role in the job creation process by properly tapping into their own ecosystems. The academic sector needs to adopt a more practical approach and develop appropriate training programmes, focusing on immediate priorities while driving long-term systematic reforms. Governments also need to change the framework: from a position of command and control to one of communication and convening. A new paradigm is needed and only by working together in a multi-partnership can we hope to achieve meaningful results.

Education is a powerful force that can accelerate economic growth, improve income distribution, facilitate social mobility, and reduce poverty: something that should be high on the political agenda.

The Mediterranean must prepare itself to handle the global battles of innovation, knowledge and sustainability. In the region, the most immediate economic challenge is not diversification, or new tax regimes, but namely the creation of enough productive and sustainable jobs for its youth. At the same time, there is the challenge of equipping ourselves with the mix of talents and skills that will make us more competitive in the digital revolution and the Industry 4.0.

Change is a pre-determined state; we must learn to prepare for it, and we are facing unprecedented changes, some of which bring with them threats of a global magnitude and on scales that can be measured in decades. The scope of the current COVID-19 pandemic, for example, is a wake-up call.

In this context, education becomes an increasingly important resource if change is not to be feared or unexpected, and this raises the question of universal access. The more of the world is well educated, the more likely it is to be able to cope with changes that offer opportunities and challenges.

Schools must provide an education that produces students who take risks without fear of change: innovative, creative, analytical, techno-enthusiastic, ethical and resilient. These are the young future leaders of tomorrow. A good education is as important and vital a provision as having a home, food or healthcare.

Young people are ready to move society and the economy forward, yet without access to quality education and training opportunities, they cannot participate in the 21st century workforce. The passport to winning is to offer them education in the most challenging environments, with the skills and certification they need.

Economic progress is related to training and innovation activities, and there is a correlation between social progress and entrepreneurial activity. Innovation is the path to survival and development, the fuel for constant progress, and the model for the rise of a company or a nation.

The main key to innovation is training. Companies that invest in providing their employees with the right skills are the ones that grow. Governments must do the same, improving skills and encouraging innovation among their employees and in the education system. Governments also need to rebalance spending, as well as invest in the tangible such as  infrastructure, and equally in intangibles such as education, research and development.

Simultaneously, within this framework, universities must bridge the gap between the classroom and businesses through practical programmes that develop the skills for business creation, decision-making and risk management.

Harnessing a country’s human potential means having a long-term strategy to cope with a rapidly changing environment and to ensure that the rights of groups and individuals are respected.

It is necessary to define the characteristics of national or regional policies on human capital management for sustainable development, to articulate the commitments and practices of political and economic actors in the fields of education, training and employment, and to take stock in terms of improvements between what can be done and the prospects to be envisaged.

The events of the last few years on both shores of the Mediterranean are setting the direction that governments must take: boosting lifelong and vocational training and creating jobs capable of playing a role in an open and global world. The challenge is to build together a society of knowledge and innovation based on equal opportunities for men and women.

So, without good instruction there is no order of instruction and without good instruction there is no good training and without good training there will be no economic development. Education and training are the key values for the success of any nation. The opposite condemns a country to remain underdeveloped, even if the country has natural resources or wealth.

 

This article appeared originally in Spanish on the Atalayar website.

Anwar Zibaoui is the General Coordinator of ASCAME and a columnist for various media outlets.

#DidYouKnow – Intro to the Cold Chain

In the past year the Cold Chain has been in the spotlight. With the mRNA vaccines getting a lot of media coverage, people from all trades sought to understand why the logistics of transporting certain types of products at (sometimes very) low temperatures proved tricky.

The Cold Chain is not a new concept. It has been used for centuries to help transport fresh products, and with the emergence of freezing technologies it made it easier to transport frozen items and medicinal products across large distances. But what exactly is the Cold Chain? Why is it called that and why do we care?

We sought to address these issues in this month’s #DidYouKnow piece:

What exactly is the Cold Chain?

The Cold Chain refers to the management of products that need to transported at stable temperatures throughout the supply chain. Though not limited to pharmaceutical supplies, it has been in the spotlight over the past two years due to the risks associated with the pandemic-related vaccines potentially deteriorating during transport that can’t support the extremely low temperatures needed to maintain their integrity.

There are four main groups of products that fall under the Cold Chain systems:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food
  • Beverages
  • Chemicals

What are the elements of a Cold Chain?

At the root of it, the Cold Chain is a series of logistic management steps taken to protect the integrity and quality of certain types of perishable products. These steps range in product preparation, storage and the transport itself.

The main elements are:

  1. Storage – the transport begins with the storage of the products in a refrigerated facility. These tend to be equipped with refrigerated containers, chillers, cold boxes, cold rooms, and blast freezers, among other things
  2. Packaging – The products have lower risks of contamination if they are properly packaged. This also increases the energy efficiency throughout the whole chain. To ensure proper packaging, refrigerants are used, which include dry ice, gel packs, phase change materials, Styrofoam or gel bricks.
  3. Monitoring – Careful monitoring of the conditions during all steps of the cold chain is essential. Cold Chain managers can monitor things like temperatures and environmental parameters. Nowadays the Internet of Things is being used to help in these processes, and digital software that allow for the management of transport are integral to monitoring the data collected by the sensors stationed throughout the supply chain.
  4. Delivery – The final step of the Cold Chain is the delivery of the product – and this step may or may not involve the provision of temperature-controlled equipment by the transport operators. This depends on the preferences of the buyers and end-users.

Classification

The Cold Chain has a set of standardised temperature ranges that helps transport operators determine which methods are most appropriate for the transport of their products.

  1. Banana – temperatures range between 12 degrees to 14 degrees Celcius
  2. Pharmaceutical – temperatures range between 2 and 8 degrees Celcius
  3. Chill – temperatures range between 2 and 4 degrees Celcius
  4. Frozen – temperatures range between -10 and -20 degrees Celcius
  5. Deep frozen – temperatures range between -25 and -30 degrees Celcius
  6. Ultra low – temperatures fall below -70 degrees Celcius

What kinds of temperature controls are we talking about?

In general the temperature controlled supply chains refer to cold temperatures – which is where the term “the cold chain” comes from. Typically the products transported along these supply chains need to be kept under stable temperatures that range from 2 degrees Celcius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) to negative 70 degrees Celcius (negative 158 degrees Fahrenheit).

What are the consequences of improper cold chain management?

The Cold Chain is very important in maintaining the functionality of today’s supply chains. Failure to do so could result in discolouring, bruising and bacterial growth, as well as product degradation. All of those could then have devastating impacts on public health, as well as affect the satisfaction of the end-users (which would then drive greater demand for the products).

What industries rely on the Cold Chain?

 The main industries that need to use temperature controlled supply chains are:

  • Food and beverage
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Chemical
  • Oil and gas
  • Military

European legislation

The European Union has come up with a set of guidelines on manufacturing and distribution practices of all products. These were designed to ensure both the safety and the quality of the products transported, and include specifications that would need to be applied to storage areas and transport equipment. For more information you can check out the EU Good Manufactoring Practices.

Sources:

Want to know more? Check out these additional resources:

Nuclear Energy - Power Plant

The possible return to nuclear power in Italy

As we start the year, Europe finds itself in yet another crisis – this time one surrounding energy. In this article, submitted to us by Giulia Esposito, we shine a spotlight on the latest developments in Italy, and the possible shifts in the energy transition that the country may be voting on in the near future. The article appeared originally on the Pronto Bolleta website.

The possible return to nuclear power in Italy

After the closure of nuclear power plants in 1990, and some 10 years after the 2011 referendum, when 94% of Italians buried the idea of a return to nuclear power, a new referendum is being considered in Italy to promote new nuclear power plants. Today, polls show a return of interest in this technology in the country.

In fact, while the European Commission is considering recognising nuclear energy and natural gas as green sources for energy production, in Italy the idea is being promoted that a return to nuclear power could also be a solution to the issue of high energy bills.

The reality is that, even today, there are still many doubts about the risks involved in reintroducing nuclear power plants in Italy: from the dangers of radioactivity to the absence of a national repository. In fact, the high cost of storage still weighs on the pockets of Italians – which could reach more than €60 million a year. We discuss this in this article.

Nuclear Energy 1

The EU nuclear proposal and the new referendum in Italy

In 2021 the issue of nuclear energy has come up in Italy, particularly following Roberto Cingolani’s – who is the Minister for Ecological Transition – expressed support for the return of nuclear power in Italy. This was then followed by a consensual agreement voiced by Matteo Salvini, Giorgia Meloni and Confindustria president Carlo Bonomi.

The year 2022 began with a draft by the European Commission on the recognition of nuclear power and natural gas as ‘green’ renewable energy sources – which they declared as sustainable and capable of accelerating the achievement of zero CO2 emissions in Europe.

Salvini’s support for this controversial energy source was slow. Riding on the wave of high energy bills that is sweeping the nation, the Italian Senator stated that he would like to call for a third referendum on nuclear power in Italy for an “independent, safe and clean” future. The last time a referendum on nuclear energy was called in Italy was 2011, when almost all voters (over 94%) voted against a return to nuclear power. At the time this was partly explained by the then recent aftermath of the tragic tsunami that had occurred a few months earlier in Fukushima (Japan), which caused several explosions and the destruction of a nuclear power plant.

With no such recent crises to fall back on, it will be interesting to see whether Italians today embrace the energy source or stay true to the sentiments voiced a decade ago.

The current state of nuclear energy in Europe

Today, there are around 128 active nuclear power plants in Europe, with France leading the way with 58 plants in operation, followed by the Russian Federation (32) and the United Kingdom (19).

Nuclear Energy Plans in Europe

The nuclear proposals, if supported by the 27 member states, would come into force in 2023. With this in mind, it will be interesting to follow the developments of the European Commission’s plan in the coming months, and to find out what the positions of countries such as Germany and Belgium are – countries that are famous for progressively abandoning nuclear power in favour of renewable energy sources.

 

The pros and cons of returning to nuclear power in Italy in 2022

Nuclear power is certainly a sensitive issue. Although a country may benefit from certain advantages, including production capacity, one cannot help but consider the risks linked to radioactivity and safety. Today, thanks to the evolution of the Internet infrastructure, it would be easier to monitor power stations. Nevertheless, with more than 60 nuclear accidents over the years, we have learned that even a small error could have catastrophic consequences – largely due to the radioactivity produced by nuclear power for an entire nation.

Nevertheless, polls in Italy seem to show an inclination towards a return to the construction of nuclear power plants and the production of nuclear energy. Possibly explained by rising energy bills, the numbers show that 51% of Italians would favour a return to nuclear power, despite the fact that in 2011 over 94% rejected the idea. But will Italy be able to bear the costs of storing radioactive waste?

The production of nuclear energy in Italy between 1963 and 1990 resulted in the production of atomic waste which, in the absence of a national repository, was mainly sent to France and the United Kingdom. Not only that, but even today we do not have a national repository. The only solution then, and now, is to store it abroad, which would cost the state about EUR 60 million a year.

In addition, this backlog costs between 1 and 4 million euros per year at each site in Italy. According to Sogin, we are talking about temporary small deposits all over Italy, including at hospitals who may have the facilities in place safe enough to store such waste. Today, Piedmont has the highest presence of radioactivity from nuclear waste, while Lazio has the highest quantity of toxic waste.

It would be imperative to determine how the waste would be managed if new nuclear power plants were to be built.

 

The possible benefits for the transport sector

The supply of fossil fuels is becoming increasingly difficult, resulting in higher costs for all transport actors. A limited resource is, for example, oil: the cost of supplying it is increasing, and can be seen through the rising prices of diesel and petrol. Fossil fuels also release a huge amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, resulting in the well-known greenhouse effect that the European nations are trying to minimise.

Despite the fact that the ‘electric’ alternative is becoming increasingly important, most transport in Italy is still powered by petrol and diesel. In fact, this is not only the case in a few cities but also in many of the main Italian provinces. This reliance on traditional energy sources results in both more pollution and high financial costs of fuelling large vehicles (including trucks, buses, etc). And while the adoption of new electric vehicles would be beneficial in the short term, the eventual adoption of nuclear power would be the missing piece to complete this “ecological” transition.

In fact, both electric and fuel cell vehicles could be more efficient due to the advantages of nuclear energy production. Electric vehicle batteries need energy to recharge, whereas fuel cell vehicles need hydrogen, which is itself produced from energy. If this energy were produced from nuclear power, the environmental impact would be minimal and the cost of energy would be much lower than with the traditional combustion engines that we are familiar with.

Overall, it can be said that the topic of nuclear power is incredibly complex, and though there are both advantages and disadvantages to this energy source, it will surely prove to be a multifaceted issue for Italians in the coming months. Europe, for sure, will be watching.

This article originally appeared on the Pronto Bolletta website. Source:  https://www.prontobolletta.it/news/nucleare-italia-2022/

Education is key for a new society

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

As I write this, 2021 is coming to an end. Much like 2020, it has been one for the history books. Unlike 2020, however, it has been filled with silver linings. This year, at the Escola, we have successfully expanded our operations in the Italian shores, adapted our training programmes to the digital sphere (in response to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions), and successfully created a virtual port community that allows us to mimic freight forwarding operations in door-to-door supply chains. What does all of this mean, in the greater scheme of things? I have recently written an article, which was originally published on the CETMO website (in Spanish), which considered the implications of the changing nature of our societies on the educational and professional worlds. I thought that, to close the year, it would be good to share this article with you all. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any thoughts or comments on it, feel free to write to us – this topic (as almost anything these days) is a fluid one and welcomes varying perspectives. 

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year to all of you who were, one way or another, influenced or affected by the Escola and our educational offers. 

“Paideía – “education” in Greek – for some becomes the only task worth devoting themselves to in life. The meaning of the word becomes richer and richer, and when Romans like Varron or Cicero needed to translate it into Latin, they chose the term “humanitas”. It became the starting point of European humanism and its later radiations”.

Irene Vallejo – Infinity in a Reed: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World

A new world?

We live at a time when the model of society is evolving at an accelerated pace, leading to a rethinking of many things. We all have a certain awareness that we will have to change the way we understand our society, and that this will involve a transition that will reshape our roles, what we are able to give and what we can expect to receive. We are also aware of the need to continue educating ourselves and our children and future generations about what each of us can and should contribute to society. To understand each other and to move forward, I believe it is necessary for us to specify the points or principles from which to start. In my view, our rights are legitimised when we fulfil our obligations. In order to arrive at education, I believe it is necessary to start from experiences that will predetermine the steps to be taken.

In all the things that are changing, the first element is globalisation, and as everything becomes globalised it seems clear that the United Nations, as a body representing all nations, has an important role to play in this transition. Its role is being debated, and has been debated even more as a result of the previous belligerent US administration on many fronts. In 2017, the United States decided to abandon the Paris Agreement signed by 194 nations in 2015, which aims to keep this century’s global temperature rise to well below 2°C pre-industrial levels, and to make efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Upon taking office, President Joe Biden decided to return to the pact in January 2021 with the goal of bringing the country back into the Paris Agreement and joining the growing coalition of governments, cities, states, businesses and individuals who are taking ambitious action to address the climate crisis.

It is very important that countries are able to agree on global issues in order to deal with the adverse effects that climate change is currently causing coherently. It is even more important for these efforts help mobilise cities, businesses and individuals.

This strategy must be framed within the programme of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030, whose, in my opinion, global approach must be highlighted. A basic pillar is that the goals cannot be achieved in isolation and that they must all be achieved to make their success possible. This requires the involvement and commitment of everyone.

A second element is the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis has evolved into a global problem in which countries, hand in hand with the United Nations, have had to coordinate and fight together to fence off the attacks of the virus, which by its very nature does not respect borders. Dealing with the pandemic has brought about a radical change in living and working habits. For almost two years, the way we do things and the way we communicate has undergone a major shift. There has been a digital explosion that has substantially transformed many sectors, and these effects will forever change the way we understand relationships and work.

A third element stems from substantial changes in production and supply patterns. It became apparent that large ships can block a vital transit points in international trade, such as the Suez Canal, that there are no containers to meet shippers’ demands, and that freight rates change the basis of the cost structures on which operations were designed. The VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment takes over and many of the basic paradigms begin to change.

The world has suddenly become too small for us, and we are now in the process of rebuilding a new reality that will doubtlessly be different. In the 5th century BC, Athens, invaded by the Persians, sought self-awareness. In other words, it sought to rebuild a new reality, with what they called Paideia or new culture. The German philologist Werner Jaeger gave it a more precise and evocative meaning in his great work: “Paideia or the formation of Greek man”. For him, Paideia stands for an education provided both by the city and by a formal education that is in harmony with what the city teaches informally. It could be summarised as follows: we can only form (in the sense of conceiving) on the ideas by which we were formed (in the sense of modelling) … and vice versa. Commenting on Plato and Protagoras, Jaeger wrote: “the harmony and rhythm of music must be communicated to the soul so that it, in turn, becomes harmonious and obeys the rhythmic laws.” (Paideia, p.361). This training was called Areté and was given to young Athenians in three areas: physical, mental and spiritual education. As a whole, it would be what we can today call civic education oriented in the light of their virtues and their devotion to public life.

A new education?

In the development of the learning model, in which it is necessary to re-interpret the role of the student and the teacher, it is prudent to consider the characteristics that it should have in terms of its possibility of adapting to the scenarios in which the education is to be carried out. In the course of the last decades there has been an evolution from a type of education called behaviourism to a new one called constructivism.

The conductive (behaviouralist) model is governed by a pre-set programme in which the teacher is the guide and instructor and the pupil is merely the recipient of this knowledge. This model was predominant until the middle of the last century.

From the end of the 20th century onwards, the constructivist model was developed, based mainly on the ideas of the Swiss epistemologist Jean Piaget. In the constructivist model, the protagonist is the learner, who plays an active role and must construct his or her own learning. The teacher in this case is a facilitator who guides and facilitates knowledge.  The very dynamic of the learning process is action-oriented, which favours its application in the business world.

In the case of projective education, learning is based on the creation of projects and the student must develop his or her research potential and put his or her conclusions into practice, using theory as one of the tools for their realisation.

The Escola Europea, since its inception, has been committed to a hybrid model based on constructivism and projectivism through practical experiences with our means (transport equipment and infrastructures) and the use of digital tools. This is attempt to respond to the new reality to be built in which the student is the protagonist of the learning process and in which practice is combined with the development of social skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, rhetoric and public speaking. Digitalisation plays a fundamental role, as it allows us to create virtual worlds that mirror physical realities at a negligible cost. The tools that have been developed in recent years mainly for driving vehicles, especially expensive ones (planes, ships, trains, space shuttles, etc.) are now entering the world of business and operations. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are becoming fundamental resources for education.

The YEP MED Project, which began in 2020 under the framework of the ENI-CBC MED Programme of the European Union, has entered this new territory through the creation of the portvirtuallab.com platform in which a Logistics-Port Community made up of avatars of the companies that comprise it makes the simulation of operations between the different operators in door-to-door transactions in international trade possible.  The contents have focused on the management of sustainable import and export operations in international trade from the perspective of a freight forwarding company. With this approach, it was necessary to understand the door-to-door operations and the entire logistics chain to be served, its external costs, passing through the ports and their operators: terminals, consignees, port authorities, customs, etc. The result has been surprising for everyone, as it has allowed the parties to reproduce operations that are practically identical to those from the real world, albeit in a virtual business environment. What started as a problem – with the forced implementation of e-learning as a consequence of the closing of all borders – has turned into an opportunity and the start of a new generation of simulation-based educational tools.

This opens up new training perspectives in which students can build their own training by carrying out projects on the import and export of goods, in which they have to collaborate in teams with students from other countries in order to successfully complete their operations – all from the convenience of their computers. The teachers become tutors and accompany them in the work of constructing the proposals and in carrying out the scaffolding to achieve the success of the projects to be carried out by each team. This teamwork, which corresponds to the current reality of companies, is a fundamental part of the learning process.

New professional profiles?

Education must respond to the challenges that societies face. Digitalisation, sustainability, English, the circular economy, blue skills… We have had a sabbatical year (actually six months) so to speak – one that made us rethink an important part of the educational strategies and forced us to take a major leap forward. As the young people in Spain would say, we have skipped four screens – by-passed many steps accelerated further by the challenging circumstances of the past two years.

All these elements, which were already important, have become critical for all companies in the sector. Digitalisation became a major element in the design of solutions. The internationalisation of the economy has become a fundamental element of progress in our economy for the well-being of our region. The environment is becoming a critical and discriminating element in terms of the viability of operations, becoming a fundamental part of the configuration of all the elements involved in the sector; from infrastructures to the design of products, taking into account the distribution processes and their recycling. These gave rise to so-called Multi-Local companies – small multinationals that export to and from innumerable countries. This calls for a new culture and a new way of doing things. To make this accelerated transition possible, adequate and easily accessible training will be necessary.

The MEDPorts Association carried out a study to identify professions that are needed in ports but which are not yet covered and in some cases not existing. The results were combinations of the requirements described above oriented to specific areas:

 

Algorithm expert

The responsibility of this expert will be to analyse information and evaluate results in order to choose the best solution and solve problems using algorithms. He/she/they will be an expert in algorithm design and software development.

Head of cyber security

Their primary responsibilities will be to protect Port Authorities by developing security-focused strategies, effectively integrating and managing new or existing technology systems to deliver continuous operational improvements, and detect, respond to and mitigate threats. This role will require a deep understanding of cyber security capabilities including security and privacy strategies and governance, IT risks, security testing, technology implementation/operations and cyber crime.

Drones expert

This expert will be responsible for operating, testing and repairing drone devices to be used in a port. This role will require extensive knowledge of robotics.

Legal IT expert

This expert will analyse information and evaluate how to find the best/most creative solutions within the framework of the law and take advantage of the possibilities offered by new IT developments.

Robotisation/automation expert

They will be responsible for planning, implementing and coordinating the progress of automation and robotics projects in port authorities. He/she will also provide judgement and analysis for the design, development and implementation of plans and procedures related to automation and robotics in ports. This profile may include a mechanical version that will have to build, install, test or maintain robotic equipment or related automated production systems.

 

Environmental Area

Energy transition manager

This manager will be responsible for the development of tailor-made energy transition plans in port authorities that will bring significant environmental and economic benefits. They should have the research and innovation capacity to find the best solutions to improve efficiency and environmental performance.

Waste management expert

This person will plan, implement and coordinate waste management systems designed to maximise opportunities for waste prevention, reuse and recycling. They will provide guidance to improve efficiency, while addressing issues of sustainable waste collection, disposal, resource management and other related special features, including waste avoidance strategies at ports.

Cruise & city-port area

 

City-port relationship manager

Managing the city-port relationship more strategically is now fundamental for ports. It is one of the most important challenges facing city ports today. This professional will have the responsibility to show the way forward to transform the city-port relationship into a more productive one. They will have to lead the re-evaluation of the city-port relationship that questions everything from the structure of the port authorities to what the realistic expectations of their stakeholders should be.

Cruise and tourism marketing director

The responsibility of this professional will be to promote the Port Authority as a preferred cruise destination and to achieve the planned growth and development of the sector. Close coordination with the city’s tourism managers will be essential. In carrying out this function, the Cruise and Tourism Marketing Manager will have to interact with the main partners in the private and public sector.

Other

 

Cold chain supply expert

Due to the increasing relevance of cold chain traffic, the position of cold supply chain expert will be needed to ensure the functioning of cold supply chains in ports. To do so, the supply chain expert will have to monitor stocks and orders as well as forecast future supply needs. This function combines analysis and reporting to ensure smooth transit of goods through the ports.

Emergency manager

The main duty of this post will be to protect and preserve security in the port. Responsibilities include coordinating emergency response efforts and ensuring that the emergency authorities’ plans are properly implemented.

Expert in intelligent energy networks (Smart grids)

Smart grid engineers are responsible for designing systems that can regulate smart grids and make them work efficiently. The main focus of their work will be to improve energy distribution by making power grids more efficient. Their job will be to develop design plans and evaluate the effectiveness of these designs.

Intermodal network manager

This manager will be a key contributor to the Port Authorities’ strategy. This position is a key element for any business where freight transport is essential. It will coordinate the main intermodal networks of the ports and ensure their efficiency and fluidity.

Public-private partnership manager

The main function of this manager will be to lead and support the creation of policies, strategies and programmes to accelerate private sector development and public-private partnerships (PPPs) in ports. They will also be involved in the development, structuring and delivery of PPP projects as well as port cooperation initiatives with public-private components. They will work directly with governments, private sector investors and financial institutions.

This exercise of identifying new profiles could be done with all types of companies in the sector, and the results would undoubtedly be remarkable.  This leads us to a disturbing reflection: are there teachers and training programmes to teach these subjects?

From the Escola’s experience we know that there are teachers who, by making an effort to adapt, can begin to prepare the contents and materials with the collaboration of the educational centres and, increasingly, the developers of training software. The Escola has recently carried out the first course of the programme derived from this study, dedicated to energy transition in port authorities. To prepare this course has not been an easy task and required the help and involvement of many experts.

What will we have to change?

A new society, with a new education, for new professional profiles necessarily leads us to the question of how training centres, their teachers and the students themselves will have to evolve. In a world in which the speed of change is constantly accelerating, it is necessary to build a model that allows rapid adaptation to these changes, at the risk of others being able to do so more efficiently, which could mean a significant competitive disadvantage.

The necessary adaptation process is not the result of individual action. It must necessarily involve a shared and synchronised strategy that must anticipate the general changes that may occur and how to deal with them well in advance.

A major part of this must involve joint collaboration between companies, knowledge centres and public administrations, which must be capable of adapting to the changes so that there are no distortions in the development of companies and in working conditions.

Collaboration and coordinated work by all the actors in order not to miss the boat. The development of the MEDPorts Partnership training programme would be a good example. Four training centres from four different countries have agreed to develop courses to start training in the profiles described. All the centres are directly involved in some of the content prepared by the other centres. This makes it possible to prepare a significant volume of training material in a relatively short period of time. Ports that compete with each other collaborate in training, and this is a powerful message for society.

Conclusions

Communities that progress are those that are able to adapt and learn.  Those that have the ambition to progress, which build on principles based on values, must first accept that today almost everything remains to be learned.  We must build a new world with new tools. We are facing energy, economic, digital, social and many other transitions. Each change will require new knowledge and new skills. It is the time for training, and this training must become part of our daily reality.

In the Mediterranean, the port sector must be a driving force for change. It must encourage and facilitate the processes of digitalisation, innovation, social, environmental and economic sustainability. The future will heavily depend on the ability to exchange goods and services, and goods will largely have to pass through ports. A very high percentage of companies will be influenced by the efficiency of their operators. Proper education and training is essential to help us achieve this. If it takes the creation of numerous specialised training centres, let us do it to make it possible.