Many port operations are still dependent on manual, paper-based systems. But with the increasing growth in global trade, the shipping industry is beginning a significant digital shift. New technology initiatives are helping many ports transform their operations – from containerization, cargo handling, and electronic data interchange, to port operations, decarbonizing logistics, and safety engineering – into a “smart port.”
A port is considered “smart” by eliminating siloed, manual operations and embracing paperless, clean, and connected supply chains to achieve operational efficiencies. Smart ports use many new technologies to achieve automation. To ease transitioning to a smart port, consider starting with these smart technologies: automated communications, data analytics and smart data, robotic smart devices, and automated risk mitigation. These technologies will improve management of all operations and logistics, increasing the resiliency of the supply chain.
Automating Communications to Improve Logistics
Port authorities, carriers, and freight forwarders can improve their logistics with the ability to continuously view the progress of a shipment. Leveraging 5G for enhanced communication automation results in efficient high-volume data exchanges of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-port communications that happen across and throughout port-centric logistics activities. Further, adding blockchain-enabled digital containers to the network will provide access to secure data in real-time.
Utilizing these digital communication collaboration platforms will facilitate real-time freight bookings, provide freight location and price visibility, improve loading and unloading of cargo and containers, save time with paperless customs clearance, provide real-time traffic information to drivers, and manage port gate security.
Use Smart Data for Optimized Operations and Better Visibility
Data analytics play a key role in cargo capacity planning and enhanced operational decision making. Smart data from connected containers allows optimization for transport routes and modes to seamlessly improve container flows.‘Using sensors and IoT technologies can provide complete visibility on the state of goods en route, digitizing shipping-berth allocation and yard space, along with efficiently using automated guided vehicles, helps port and terminal optimization by providing 100% location visibility of all goods.
But smart data improvements don’t end there. Smart data can track energy efficiency, recycling of residual materials and the data collected on sustainability metrics like carbon accounting, carbon disclosure in line with IMO regulations and taking appropriate actions is important and significant.
Automate Asset Management to Improve Preventive Maintenance
The shipping industry is extremely asset intensive. Port assets are difficult to manually inspect and monitor for periodic preventive maintenance. Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software can play a pivotal role in the maintenance and manufacturing of critical assets in marine workshops, shipyards, and construction sites located in and around ports. EAM software can provide real-time data on every asset, which can then be used to automate the asset-maintenance schedule.
‘Including unmanned technology (drones) for automated inspection routines can add tremendous value to the port environment by improving safety, reducing costs, and allowing greater survey frequency. The data collected through the automated drone inspections can also be passed to the asset-management team for maintenance reporting and planning.
Risk Mitigation Automation to Prepare for Future Disruptions
Supply-chain management risk identification is an ongoing exercise for any enterprise. It is critical for businesses to monitor their supply chains and mitigate risks wherever possible. Automating risk mitigation enables supply-chain leaders to plan for disruptions and regularly test global supply chains, which is key to long-term resilience.
Mitigation measures must be taken for all known and unknown controllable risks, with both a short- and long-term perspective. These risks include port operational delays, natural disasters, epidemics, etc. Stress-testing the supply chain is an effective way of identifying and understanding the prevalent gaps. This can have a positive impact on intermodal transport, connections to remote locations, and port-centric logistics that are critical from an end-to-end supply chain standpoint.
Smart Port Technologies Provide Seamless Automation
Ports becoming smart is a pivotal evolution for global commerce. Smart ports move goods in a seamless manner through automation in a connected digital network. Introducing smart-port technologies can enable real-time visibility of shipments, track and trace capabilities, paperless operational processing, and more. While there are many new digital disruptors for progressive ports, starting with these smart technologies can ease a smart port transition.