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Shipping operations are becoming increasingly automatised

Beyond 2020

Marta Miquel

Written by: Marta Miquel – Chief Business Officer at the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

As we close 2020, we can reflect on the fact that the year has been far from what we expected it to be. It is obvious that the pandemic, which began to ravage our societies in 2019 but fully accelerated in March of 2020, has brought our daily lives to a standstill, and has therewith marked a before and, above all, an after in our personal and professional lives, in the way we do business and in the way our sector has to face the future from now on.

Although it seems that the year will end with significant economic pitfalls for many companies, it is not all bleak. It is now evident that the virus  will have also contributed significantly towards the advancement of various key aspects of the logistics-port community: the digitalisation of the sector, the resilience of the services and its commitment to the environment. These are all strategic lines of work to which Covid-19 has given a boost and in which, now more than ever, it is necessary to continue working in the training circle of those who are working in the sector and future professionals, equipping them with the (potentially new) appropriate skills.

As an essential sector, the logistics-port community has been able to rise to the unusual occasion. It showed that the specialisation of companies contributes to quality solutions and, in this case, adapts accurately and rapidly to shifting realities. This requires teams of people with extensive knowledge of the logistics sector and international trade and who, despite being knowledgeable about the different branches or disciplines of trade, must be constantly re-trained to offer services that meet the needs of society and the evolution of the sector. These can range from the most theoretical aspects, which help to develop operations correctly, to teamwork abilities and digital literacy, which would ensure the proper and efficient use of new digital tools.

It cannot be denied that our community has already been working for decades towards the digitalisation of processes for the integration of operations at local levels and the facilitation of communications at international levels, and that the creation of Port Community Systems and the integration of maritime-port single windows have greatly sped up the interaction between the community’s actors. However, it is necessary to continue to move towards systems which allow the integration not only of port processes but also of elements of all facets of international trade and of the supply chain. For example, the use of digital documentation or single customs windows could be further developed and implemented universally across the European region. This is only the first step towards a sector in which not only data is exchanged, but also treated as “big data” and where added value can be obtained from the information collected for the improvement of the efficiency of our operations, making use of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

These digital improvements will help companies and their workers optimise resources, be more efficient and, consequently, reduce the impact of operations on society and the environment. However, we do not have to leave these decisions to one algorithm or one machine alone. New guidelines such as the GREEN DEAL and the proposed climate law at European level mean that environmental concerns are increasingly linked to our economy and our sector, calling for more intermodality, new fuels and alternate energy sources, and the application of stricter standards. The transport sector, considered to be one of the sectors with the greatest impact on the environment, will have to adapt to the restrictions on the limits of emissions. It is essential that the actors of our community are aware of both the impact they generate and the possibility of protecting the environment from additional emissions with the decisions they make. Once again, training becomes a key tool to provide all those involved in operations with the means to calculate and diminish this impact, which ranges from efficient truck driving to calculating and assessing emissions.

In this line, the Mediterranean project YEP MED puts these three main axes of relay in the front lens when the sector needs it the most. The project, led by the Escola Europea, will receive approximately 3 million euros in funding from the European Union (90% of its overall costs). It aims to align the needs of the logistics-port sector with the training of the sector participants, all through a training modality centred around a virtual lab, and ultimately improving employability in the sector. Focusing on young people NEETs and women, the project looks to advance our sector in the Mediterranean beyond 2020.

Thanks to the involvement of 8 logistics communities in the North and South of the Mediterranean, the region will be able to move towards a future with less unemployment, more digitalisation, less inequality between genders, and a greater reduction in emissions, demonstrating that the sector not only adapts to any situation, but also provides alternatives which make the logistics-port communities more committed to the economic, social and environmental progress.

You, as one of our Alumni, have decided to be part of this community, and it’s now your turn to make it happen.

Changes made to the Escola’s Steering and Academic Committees

Distance learning, digitalisation and courses that provide answers to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic will mark the evolution of the Escola Europea in the near future.

During the Steering Committee of the Escola Europea, held on the 22nd of April 2020, Catalina Grimalt for the Port of Barcelona and Mario Massaroti for the Grimaldi Group were added to the members of the Executive Committee. This was in accordance with the agreement adopted by the Governing Council presided over by the President of the Port of Barcelona, Mercè Conesa, and which also had the President of the Ports of Genoa, Paolo Emilio Signorini; the President of Ports of Rome, Antonio Maria di Majo; the CEO of GNV, Matteo Catani, and the members of the Executive Committee Eduard Rodés, Silvio Ferrando, Antonio Pedevila, Mario Massarotti, Catalina Grimalt, Pedro Arellano and Luca Lupi participated.

The Steering Committe also approved changes to the Academic Committee. Marta Miquel, representing the Escola Europea, and taking on the role of the secretary of the Committee; Lluis París for the Port of Barcelona; Leonardo Picozzi, representing the Ports of Genoa; Giovanni Marinucci for the Ports of Rome; and Agustí Martí for the Faculty of Nautics of Barcelona-UPC, were incorporated to the list of members.

As a result of the current global health crisis, new initiatives of the Escola Europea linked to the teaching of courses that combine an online part for theory and a physical part for practical workshops, as well as the development of new courses related to the safety and protection regulations that are going to be implemented as a consequence of COVID-19, have been approved.

The Committee was informed of the recent approval of two projects in the field of training and employment under the European Commission’s ENI-CBCMED programme. The YEP-MED project led by the Escola Europea with a budget of EUR 3 million and involving 7 countries from the Mediterranean basin; and the TECHLOG project led by the University of Cagliari with a budget of EUR 3,5 million. Both projects have a duration period of 30 months.

Some current issues were also discussed, such as the important work of the shipping companies in the repatriation of persons who were travelling at the time the state of emergency and lockdown were announced. President Conesa emphasized the importance of the collaboration of Grimaldi Lines and GNV, which has helped manage extremely complex situations.

The Council agreed to hold an emergency meeting at the end of June to better monitor developments in the overall situation.