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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.

Nanosatellites to fuel the Internet of Things

In the past issues of our #BlueInnovation series we have largely focused on any new developments taking place on land and at sea – Smart Seals, Smart Containers, Digital Twins, etc. What about Space? Is there a future for the logistics and transport sector that involves space technologies?

This month we have caught up with Jaume Sanpera, the founder and CEO of Sateliot, to talk about his views and predictions about the journey into the future for transport.

Journey into the future of logistics and freight transport

Jaume Sanpera

By: Jaume Sanpera, Founder and CEO of Sateliot

What if the real revolution in the logistics and freight sector came directly from space? That is what Sateliot, the company that will launch the first constellation of nanosatellites to democratize the already known Internet of Things or IOT, is proposing.

In the 21st century, we are entering the era of the totally connected. However, there is still a long way to go to make large-scale connection global and affordable for all. In fact, it is estimated that only 10% of the earth’s surface has mobile coverage, while the remaining 90% is a veritable connectivity desert.

However, what may seem like a whole futuristic movie is getting closer. Specifically, up to 100 nanosatellites weighing about 12 kilograms will make this possible, orbiting some 500 kilometres from the Earth and functioning as cell towers from above offering 100% coverage of the territory and reaching areas where terrestrial networks cannot.

And, although when we talk about the IoT and high technology we usually think of the most cutting-edge and disruptive sectors, the truth is that others that are more traditional but no less developed, such as logistics or goods transport, are likely to reap the most benefits, since the commitment to innovation and digital transformation will allow for an improvement in the operations of infrastructures, warehouses or transport fleets. All of this at a time when ecommerce is booming and requires greasing the supply chain to avoid stock-outs, ensuring that consumers get what they want, when they want it.

Globally, around 20 billion devices are connected to the Internet of Things

What’s more, although the IoT is not new to logistics, with 20 billion connected devices already in use around the world, its real revolution has only just begun. It is estimated that by 2025, shipping companies alone will spend an average of more than $2 million annually on IoT solutions. A practical and simple example of this investment will be smart containers.

Sateliot will make it possible to extend the IOT to the whole territory, so sensors can be installed inside and outside the containers to collect an infinite amount of data during their transit, such as the humidity of the cargo, its temperature, oxygen levels, whether or not there is smoke or even attempts to open them. This data could then be analysed by the company sending the goods, by any intermediaries or by the crew of the ship the cargo is travelling on.

Through this it will be possible to remotely act on reefer containers or warn the crew of the need to hypothetically repair or replace them, identify theft attempts during seal manipulations or put out fires when the presence of smoke is detected, among other multiple actions.

This technology will help make possible exhaustive tracking of the containers, both en route and during possible losses into the sea. This will significantly reduce costs by minimizing the premiums of insurance policies, including theft, looting, fire or heat damage, which are usually very high – it is estimated that 70% of companies that adopt IoT solutions have considered this expense as one of the reasons for adopting this technology. It also will help prevent the loss of perishable goods due to failures of the cooling engine or through helping locate and recover containers that have fallen into the water or been lost in other ports by mistake.

Transport workers will increasingly rely on the information taken from the Internet of Things in their operations – where nanosatellites will come in handy

It is not just containers that will benefit. Ships will be able to use the IoT for the maintenance of their machinery, detection of breakdowns before they occur, using its solutions to monitor fuel consumption and thus adjust it more efficiently, all of which will help result in significant decreases in costs.

In short, monitoring the logistics and transport of goods at any time and place and at affordable prices will be key to improving processes, making them more efficient and cost effective. It will also help increase the autonomy of the devices and help get accurate predictions of demand, all of which will allow for greater capacity at lower costs, resulting in profitability increases across all companies in the sector.

The journey into the future of logistics, which is becoming more intelligent every day, has already begun. Nanosatellites will be on board, drawing the road map to follow.

Virtual Meetings are becoming the norm

Towards blue virtual training

Lidia Slawinska

Written by Lidia Slawinska, Consultant

In recent times a vast number of technological transformations has encompassed the maritime sphere. A recent study (2020) commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) analysed different social aspects of the maritime transport of goods, and identified two technological trends that are particularly visible on the blue horizon in the near future: autonomous and intelligent shipping. The prediction is that in the next three decades these two developments will have become the norm. Ship workers will soon be surrounded by technology that assists in the vessel’s functions, leading to a potential operational redundancy. Terminal operators and freight forwarders will have to deal with smart ports, the Internet of Things, and virtual realities, and the role of the ship operators will shift towards the virtual sphere. This implies a very different training paradigm for the future transport professional – as very different skills will become invaluable. Future professionals will need to acquire an amalgam of different skills, blending the mechanical with the technological, and educational institutions will need to adapt. Covid-19 has doubtlessly accelerated this timeline towards virtual training.

The maritime industry is playing an essential role in the short-term emergency response to COVID-19 by easing the transport flows of vital commodities and products. Although a considerable number of ports has succeeded to stay open to cargo operations, the sector has been hit regardless, and economic losses have been recorded by ports across the Mediterranean. Most of the ports still remain closed to passenger traffic. Mid and long-term recovery will need to further enhance sustainability and resilience of the maritime transport sector as a whole, for sustaining jobs, international trade, and global economy, as much as possible.

The Coronavirus pandemic been instrumental in shifting the ways in which we operate. Overcoming physical distances has become essential to ensure the continued development of businesses ranging across all industries – with the education sector particularly being hit hard. The solution for many has been to turn towards digitisation. Automation, artificial intelligence and the growth of the Internet of Things has enabled many companies and institutions to reshape their business models and operate in remote environments.

The growth of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is facilitating the move towards a virtual training reality

For a centre like the Escola, which relies on experiential learning methodologies, the technological shift has proved particularly tricky. It’s proven approach towards delivering knowledge through a combination of theoretical lectures and practical workshops is quite difficult to replicate in a digital environment – even with the help of the increasingly popular online meeting applications such as Zoom, WebEx and Go2Meeting. A solution has presented itself in the form of a new project – YEP-MED, or the “Youth Employment in the Ports of the Mediterranean”, which will be launched in September 2020.

The project, headed by the Escola Europea and with 11 partners coming from 7 countries on the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, France, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan), has been selected as one of the projects under the European Neighbourhood Instrument CBCMED in 2020 (http://www.enicbcmed.eu/) . The goals of the project are to adapt training to the sector’s real needs and allow for the acquisition of skills to succeed in the work context; to strengthen the ability of Port Authorities and training centres to combine training and job placements by collaborating with at least 600 companies in 7 countries of the ENI area; and increasing employment rates of young people and women and offering them a real possibility to work within personalised mentoring and tutor programs.

How will this training be offered, in the aftermath of Covid-19? To replace the regular experiential approach of the Escola’s proven methodology, YEP-MED will take the training into the virtual world. The students will take part in teleconferences during workshops and debates with professionals and teachers. These will be accompanied by online on-demand training, which the students will need to complete during the 3 week long courses. If the health-related crisis subsides and the situation permits it, visits to port installations will accompany the on-demand classes. The final element to cement knowledge acquisition will be simulation. Working with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, the project partners will re-create digital twins of the port communities involved in the project. They will then ask the participants to take over practice enterprises and solve certain case studies involving transport operations. This system will ensure that the participants (albeit remotely) experience the operations themselves, and gain a considerable amount of experience before entering the work force.

Whether or not this new approach will prove effective, and will become the blueprint to use in future maritime training schemes, is to be seen. Being able to experience the operations in a world as complex as the maritime world is essential to prepare young people for real life operations. The virtual world cannot ever completely replace the physical experience – but in today’s reality it is the best option that educators have to prepare future professionals. Automated processes on board of ships, the internet of things, and smart ports all contribute and make the ERP more reliable and easier to programme. Different sectors have already taken the virtual plunge with training (air transport being one of the most famous ones, given the high cost and risk of real-life tests). Perhaps the sea is next in line.

 

Written by:

  • Lidia Slawinska

 

Useful links:

Smart Seals: Spotlight on Shellock

Throughout centuries, research and innovation have driven human progress forward. In the maritime sector, blue innovation in particular is key towards the advancement of the industry – in particular against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the damage that it had done to the global economies. This month we caught up with representatives from Shellock, a logistics start-up located in Barcelona, to find out more about the innovative technologies they have been developing.

 

Shellock is a Logistics Startup, which provides real-time tracking to shipping containers. It combines its product – a service web platform for tracking and its corresponding smart and reusable seal – to make it possible to transparently track the different stages of the shipments throughout the whole supply chain, from origin to destination.

Shellock boasts a user-friendly interface

Shellock also has a huge environmental goal, which consists of eliminating the traditional single-use plastic seals for shipping containers. These plastic seals make 4,000 of plastic waste annually, slowly contributing to the devastation of the marine eco-system. Using Shellocks seals will eliminate the waste of these, as these smart seals are reusable. Moreover, ceasing the trade of the traditional seals can help reduce the emissions of 11 tons of CO2 annually for every 2,000 active Shellocks, further contributing to environmental conservation.

Example of cargo tracking in Shellock

Currently less than 1% of the shipping containers in service are being tracked in real time – presenting a huge opportunity for these kinds of solutions.

The Shellock platform is a web application that can be accessed by mobile devices and normal browsers on desktop or laptop computers. This is the space where the customers are able to see the real-life updates for their shipments. This information is presented in an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard, that details and records every event of the cargo’s trip, making possible to know when the cargo is (or) was transiting by road, sailing by sea, standing by in port or warehouse, etc. Shellock also provides a predictive time of arrival of the cargo and an alert management system, which gives alerts on any incidents such as, robbery, delays and impacts, in real time. Through all of this, the company outfits its customers with the necessary data to allow for better decision making. The format of the data collected is also integrable with others systems used by other actors in the supply chain, such as insurance companies, ports, etc.

Shellock realt-time tracking of cargo

What is a Shellock?

Shellock is an IoT (Internet of Things) device that starts to emit data to the online platform as soon as it is locked or attached to the door of the container. It is shaped like a padlock, making it familiar and thus easy to use in the market. This reusable IoT device has the autonomy to change network providers all around the globe, in order to keep emitting data and making the real-time visibility possible. It is also equipped with impact and anti-robbery sensors to track any incidents that may occur.

Prototype of a Shellock seal

A little bit of history

In May 2019, the founders met during the first maritime and blue logistics startup weekend, held in Barcelona by Techstars. Without knowing each other beforehand, the group created the team and the idea of Shellock was born after an intense and fun brainstorming session. The concept was so inspiring and enlightening, that it motivated the team in such a way that they forgot they were strangers, but felt that they had known each other for years.  This group of entrepreneurs spent three long days during the weekend, shaping the concept, developing the business plan, researching the competitors and preparing a presentation of the final proposal. On the third day, during a 5 minute-pitch, they presented Shellock to a jury compriisng high-rank professionals of the maritime and logistics industry. Shellock placed second in a long list of propsals. Following the award ceremony, a few managers from logistic enterprises approached them, asking the members whether they were planning to make Shellock a reality. And thus Shellock was born.

In January 2020, Shellock partnered with the Universitat de Barcelona and moved to its co-work space known as StartUb! In February, they started the Santander Incubation programme called “Explorer”. In April Shellock was chosen for an acceleration programme for maritime startups, which will be held in Haugesund, Norway and is organized by FLOW Maritime Accelerator. Through this programme the company has secured mentorships, help to approach potential customers and partners to run tests for a product market fit, and will receive help to get in touch with potential investors and other business opportunities. This is going to be a huge opportunity for this promising Startup, and will doubtlessly help reshape the shipping industry and scale-up its products and ventures.

In order to fulfill this dream of going to Norway, Shellock launched a crowdfunding campaign on https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shellock–2 – / to cover some expenses for the trip to Haugesund and to help produce and optimise the first batch of Shellocks once the programme comes to an end.

Meet the team:

  • CEO – Carlos Garces: Marine Engineer and Full Stack Developer, with wide experience in software and hardware testing for Mercedes-Benz.
  • CPO – Adolfo Omar Calderon: Nautical Engineer in Navigation and Marine Transportation, with wide international experience working for Tidewater Martine and The Panama Canal.
  • CTO – Ferran Guasch: Electronic Engineer, with experience as testing Engineer for Mercedes-Benz and skilled in hardware development.

Do you want to join this movement?

The Shellock team has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help finance their progress. By contributing you won’t be only helping them, you will also join the sustainability movement, helping to reduce the use of plastic and lowering CO2 emissions in one of the biggest industries in the world. Shellock will give away t-shirts, mugs, and some accessories with the company logo, nice collector series Shellocks and will grant some space for sponsors on their website. If you are interested, you can access the campaign through the following link:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/shellock–2#/

Internet of Things

IoT impact on Port Operations

The IoT (Internet of Things,) known as the ability to connect devices and objects through a digital network, is a term that has ceased to be new and has slowly become part of our daily routine. Nowadays devices connected to the IoT permeate our homes, with people relying on devices such as Roomba, smart refrigerators or Alexa. IoT’s capabilities are much more powerful and each of the sectors of our economies have taken advantage of the benefits of this technology operations and management.

When looking at the maritime industry, and ports in particular, we can see that the advantages of incorporating IoT into their operations for the interaction of M2M (machine to machine) in telematic devices and sensors has resulted in a positive impact. Shipping has recognised that the best strategy for the future is no longer to prioritise massive physical growth but rather to optimise flows and logistics processes. Given this need, the IoT provides the ability to manipulate, control and monitor actions – an important step (albeit not the only one) within the grander scheme of things.

Initially we saw the IoT utilised to optimise the mobilisation of containers in terminals, monitoring of the control of working hours and accesses, towards the activation of equipment, control of cranes or prediction of maintenance. All this could be summarised not only in information reports but also in future opportunities. Knowing the data is always beneficial but knowing what to do with it is much better and this is the real gain from the process. To correctly identify where the processes can be optimised is the most difficult job of the sensor data collection. To date no universal algorithm or formula exists, and each terminal, each product and each country has a different dynamic that must be evaluated and readapted to involve the complex analysis of experts who actually manage to identify the weak sections of the processes.

On the other hand, the IoT is common practice of digital ports even if this does not mean that everything is done digitally. Monitoring, control and data collection have become daily routines, but the prediction of many activities is the new leading characteristic that the IoT is taking. It entails predicting supply chain breaks, equipment failures and many other aspects that are associated with artificial intelligence.

The cons?

What are the downsides? The main concern is that such implementations may expose the ports and organisations relying on digital data collection to unauthorised external interventions or cyberattacks. Nevertheless, large companies have understood that it is part of the risks to be mitigated, and that without these strategies sooner rather than later companies that do not adopt them will lose competitiveness.

The future?

Information is becoming more and more valuable. At the same time, it is becoming more public and freely accessible. The IoT interconnects equipment to obtain information; this information then collaborates between companies to obtain benefits. The scope of the IoT has managed to expand to all those who indirectly interact with logistics or port activities. We have left behind the information gap that in the past was termed the “Maritime Adventure”, and today exporters need to have constant control of situations to optimise the supply chain.

From a direct link to the truck driver through an app interconnected with the port community system, to the most detailed environmental control system, the IoT has infinite contributions in the port activity. It can be customised to the needs of each actor and promises to have event higher levels of performance with the emergence of 5G (in the not-to-near future).

 “According to IDC (International Data Corporation), there are already nearly 200 billion computerised devices, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet, and more than 50 billion sensors that track” around the world. The maritime sector, as the majority holder of international transport, has the responsibility to act efficiently and safely to reduce costs in a globalised market. This requires the optimisation of each of the shipping processes, and that in any case the IoT is a tool that allows to promote these objectives.

With the world constantly becoming “smaller”, and speed and accuracy becoming more important to customers and operators, there is hardly any doubt that the Internet of Things is the language of the future – and it is up to us to knows this language and to learn to decipher the information collected by it to improve the door-to-door supply chain, and the operations in the ports in particular.

For more information, check out these articles:

 

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Automation Lessons from Other Sectors

In a previous insight, Port Technology focused on how automation could impact the employment of both landside workers and seafarers in the shipping industry, where it is predicted that many jobs could be replaced by intelligent machines and systems.

Despite these concerns, maritime is not the only field which automation could seriously effect.

In fact, many other business areas have already changed massively as a result of technological advances like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Manufacturing

Those responsible for driving change in the maritime sector, especially with regard to cargo-handling operations onshore, could look to the example of other industrial sectors like manufacturing when thinking about how to implement automation successfully.

Even a quick comparison of the two areas reveals a number of similarities; materials need to be handled quickly and safely, a repetitive but important process which seems well-suited to the application of robotics.

Skilled professionals in the manufacturing business are likely to share some of the same concerns as their counterparts at ports and terminals, yet it is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency for manufacturers and factories.

The initial cost of automation is higher than paying workers to perform the same job, even if machines are able to outperform the human workforce in some capacities. As with process automation at ports and terminals, the key to success is finding out what should be automated.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency
  • The key to success is finding out exactly what should be automated

Warehousing and Distribution

Closely connected to maritime trade and part of the logistics sector, warehousing is a crucial node in the wider supply chain and a hotbed for effective automation.

While the level of technological advancement across warehouses will of course depend on such factors as company size, location and the specific demands placed on any one distribution centre, leading players in the market are following the lead of other industries and expanding their use of robotics.

The question though – for the shipping industry – is how this transition to automated processes can be carried out purposefully.

In the case of XPO Logistics, developing technological solutions fit for purpose has been fundamental.

Collaborating with Singapore-based GreyOrange to deploy 5,000 intelligent robots throughout centres in Europe and North America, the autonomous machines perform a key function within “a modular goods-to-person system” that includes the efficient movement of mobile storage racks.

Key Takeaway:

  • Developing technological solutions fit for purpose
Self-Driving cars

While much of the conversation and early development around automation has concerned the increasing intelligence of landside operations, the impact of smart technologies is not only being felt on shore.

With multiple projects and start-ups currently exploring the possibility of autonomous vessels which can safely navigate from one location to another, even in the presence of other marine traffic, there are many technological hurdles which still need to be jumped.

The growing area of self-driving cars, a mainstream point of discussion in the media today, corresponds quite closely with the less reported interest in autonomous vessels; both have prompted questions regarding safety and security, especially as the digital systems which guide them have not proven entirely immune from attack.

In the case of self-driving vehicles though, standards are being created by the UK Government and other authorities to ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies. With several carriers already suffering from major hacks, including COSCO in 2018, establishing the security of pilotless ships should be a priority.

Key Takeaway:

  • Ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies

Air Freight

In our modern age of next-day-delivery and thriving e-commerce, it is not surprising that air freight has gained a distinct advantage over ocean shipping. If you can move goods more quickly, you become a more attractive option for the customer.

While the very nature of transporting cargo via air separates this business area from maritime, leading companies in the air freight space are finding ways to boost their efficiency and competitiveness through automation.

Just as digital technologies have been developed to make commercial airlines run more smoothly, cargo planes are using electronic bills of lading and tracking solutions widely to exchange information and ensure that the movement of goods remains transparent and traceable.

Greater visibility ultimately begets greater efficiency, as being able to monitor your supply chain also allows one to plan effectively, especially in situations where delays or other barriers to free movement are experienced. When approaching automation, the maritime sector would be wise to keep this fundamental principle in mind.

Source: Port Technology

How Smart Start-Ups Are Changing Maritime

The role of smart start-ups in driving the development of the maritime sector should not be understated, especially with regard to intelligent applications powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

As highlighted by a recent competition to form the world’s first digital shipping company, launched by IoT specialist Loginno, there is a demand for companies who can bring new solutions to the table.

The Start-Up Space

Of the multitude of start-ups vying for opportunities within the space of IoT and Big Data, many are part of projects designed to leverage their potential for industry-shifting innovation.

These initiatives are often supported by major companies, and in February 2019 satellite communications provider Inmarsat revealed its partnership with two start-up programmes focused on IoT and the optimization of data.

The need for “fresh perspectives”, as argued by Inmarsat’s Senior Director of Digital Incubation Ali Grey, can be served best by new businesses currently breaking into the sector and shaking its very foundation.

IoT is widely viewed as a key pivot for the industry and target for those wishing to instigate serious change; ABI Research has predicted that IoT applications will be able to track over 500 million different assets by 2023, highlighting its potential.

Solutions for Ports

If IoT is tipped to make waves across the global economy, what kind of impact is this movement likely to have on ports, and what role will be played by start-up organizations?

Maciej Kranz of Cisco Systems describes digitization, and especially IoT, as “powerful enablers that forward-thinking port operators are using in order to improve efficiencies”: the benefits of implementing IoT applications to support cargo-handling processes are various.

One of the areas in which IoT can be leveraged most usefully is the management of port traffic, as the data collected from ships, containers and other vehicles entering and exiting ports can produce a holistic overview of cargo movement that provides a transparent and visible basis for optimization.

IoT is also a technology which complements other advanced systems used by port and terminal operators, functioning alongside automated equipment and TOS systems to allow more effective communication between machines and humans, or even machines and other machines.

Although major companies will often be enlisted to oversee the implementation of advanced technologies, which have to be integrated into port operations without causing serious disruption, start-ups will play an important part in delivering new solutions.

Speaking about the position occupied by start-ups at Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies 2018, former Managing Director of Port XL Mare Straetmans emphasized the necessity for collaboration between corporations and emerging businesses.

The Future of IoT Innovation

While start-ups are important components of the rapidly growing IoT ecosystem, development is also being driven by academic bodies and government groups exploring its applications for a broad range of industries, including container shipping.

Autonomous shipping, which is quickly transforming from a futuristic fantasy into a reality, is a good example of the technical platform provided by IoT solutions.

A joint-venture involving the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute and Aalto Universityis seeking to deploy IoT-powered sensor technology as means of ensuring the safe navigation of autonomous vessels, an innovation which is already being trialled.

However, educational bodies and public institutions are also choosing to collaborate with start-ups on groundbreaking projects like this, with solution provider Fleetrange contributing to this initiative by developing techniques for autonomous navigation.

It is evident then that the insight provided by these young, energetic and, above all else, innovative companies, as well as their ability to cut through the noise of the industry, is fostering an environment that is adapting to evolving demands and becoming increasingly modern. It seems likely that success will follow.

Source: Port Technology