Rotterdam outlines smart port priorities

2021-03-01 16:35:14 International Ports News

Disruptive trends that are being seen today include climate change, the energy transition and digitalisation that enhances efficiencies of the logistics and supply chain.

“The fact that these are disruptive is very important for each and every port,” Van der Plas Director of Port of Rotterdam International said.

Ports vulnerable to these trends because of long-term capital investment

He noted that ports can be vulnerable to these disruptive trends because of the amount of long-term capital investment.

“This requires ports to be agile and resilient to changes. This means you have to sort of reinvent yourself to be able to face these challenges of these disruptive trends.”

Van der Plas said there are three areas in digitisation that are of most important from the Port of Rotterdam’s viewpoint: smart infrastructure, smart digital applications and smart innovations.

Smart infrastructure

 Van der Plas suggested that ports must now look differently at the kind of infrastructure you need and the way it is managed.

“Asset management from design until the end of use, what moment in time do I need to change or to be investing in infrastructure will change dramatically.

Of course, digitalisation will play an important role in this.

The Port of Rotterdam is already working on smarter infrastructure with sensors installed which measure several data points to be able to improve asset management. This ultimately leads to better predictions regarding what needs to be reinvested in.

Smart digital applications

Automation has been the first step in a chain towards digitization, Van der Plas noted.

“Digitalisation is about connecting other links in a transport or supply chain. As a port authority you cannot do this alone.”

In the big picture, shippers, freight forwarders, operators, infrastructure managers and contractors will all be connected resulting in a need to think of swifter, safer and smarter solutions to be able to get a seamless supply through the transport chain.

Smart innovations

Management boards at ports ought to be very active in innovation to mitigate the impact of the previously mentioned disruptive trends.

Van der Plas said port management boards need to be looking for new solutions, new markets, new business models and ultimately new ways of working.

 “The Port of Rotterdam is a big port but still it is only one port and you need to exchange knowledge with others. You need to learn from the experiences of other ports and from other sectors to be able to learn and to boost your innovations at your port.”

Speaking about the upcoming Smart Digital Ports conference Van der Plas said he expects these topics to be addressed and will be of high interest to other ports because all ports are facing similar challenges today.

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