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Port changes

World Maritime News
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A complete transformation of how ports operate is on the horizon, according to Bret Greenstein, vice-president of Watson internet of things (IoT), Consumer Offerings, IBM.

Over the past few years, IBM has partnered up with industry majors such as Maersk Group and CMA CGM in order to digitize their ways of doing business.

World Maritime News spoke with Mr Greenstein on the digital transformation of the maritime industry and IBM's role in the process on the back of the company's recent announcement on establishing cooperation with the Port of Rotterdam Authority aimed at making Rotterdam a "smart port of the future".

Mr Greenstein points out that the technology is transforming every aspect of every industry, and early adopters will be able to boost their competitive edge.

"In fact, according to estimates at the Port of Rotterdam, shipping companies and the port stand to save up to one hour in berthing time, which can amount to about $80,000 in savings for ship operators and enables the port to dock more ships each day."

The digitisation of the Port of Rotterdam involves replacing traditional and manual communication methods with solutions powered by big data, IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In practice, that means that ship and port operators who previously relied on traditional radio and radars to make key decisions on port operations will now have a single dashboard with information such as weather and traffic.

IoT-enabled sensors gather multiple data streams about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility, which can then be analyzed using AI. These insights ultimately help operators make decisions that reduce wait times, determine optimal times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable more ships into the available space, according to IBM.

One of the key goals at the Port of Rotterdam of adopting digitization is to host autonomous ships in the 42-kilometer port area that stretches from the North Sea into the City of Rotterdam.

"To help prepare for that future, the port is using IBM IoT to create a digital twin of the port — an exact digital replica of our operations that will mirror all resources at the port of Rotterdam, tracking ship movements, infrastructure, weather, geographical and water depth data with 100 pct accuracy. This part of our digitisation initiative will help us test out scenarios and better understand how we can improve efficiencies across our operations, while maintaining strict safety standards," he said.

As explained, there is a growing need for a modern and transparent supply chain across all industries that embrace new technologies, so as new technologies emerge, they are fully ready and capable to adapt them. The shipping industry, in particular, is a critical part of the global supply chain, as more than 85 per cent of globally traded goods travel on a ship at least once during their lifecycle.

"Digitising the shipping industry enables supply chains and businesses to be more efficient, cost-effective, and transparent."

As the industry transforms with digital technologies, we'll start to see operations improve with less wait times for ships, easier communication between the multiple parties involved in the port, and streamlined traffic flows," he said.

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