04 April 18

The evolution of port system, from industrial to a smart digital area

Dockside_Port_600_341_84_c1The introduction of intelligence device able to share in real-time data, it has changed the different Business Models and the management of supply chain operations. The reasons behind are called digitalization and automation, with the result to increase the  performances.

These two factors mentioned previously have changed the concept of logistics move one the sector from physical to digital operations. The dematerialization of data has eliminated the expensive physical documents chain while the automation has increased level of security and efficiency.


In this forecast, the major logistics nodes represented by maritime ports and dry ports are changing their business rules and models passing from to be considerate just “Industrial or Logistics Centers” to an evolved concept of “Smart Digital Ports”, based by digital platform and IoT devises able to catch and share in real-time data.

The major features of an evolved Smart Digital Port are represented by   :

–          The combination of technology and widely adopted, shared processes collecting/distributing data and information to manage operations in-to, inside and out from a port;

–          The processes have to be shared not only by operators but by the whole community, by all stakeholders public and private;

–          The integration with the surrounding Smart Territory (City, Region, Country) and with Smart Transport Infrastructures (Roads, Rails, Rivers);

The main benefits are the following:

–          Speeds up the transit response time of goods through ports operations;

–          Reduces costs to handle goods;

–          Speeds the response time of stakeholders to their customers;

–          Reduces the usage of paper flow distributing information electronically;

–          Improves track and trace efficiency;

–          More efficiency, lower transit time, higher integration with third parties (e.g. Customs, Railways).

The role of Big Data

The use of intelligent sensor (IoT device) has made possible the storage of a huge number of data managed by digital database cloud-based.

The data come from the different port areas such as: the berths, the yards, the gates or IT system such as: The Port Community System, the Terminal Operating System and Stakeholders Digital Platform.

The result is a clear comprehension of main business process highlighting the inefficiencies and creating predictive model able to anticipate the market and elaborate specific KPIs.

The Role of Automation

The role of automation in the logistics system is evident to simplify and make faster the access to terminal through the gate-in and the gate-out operations, the result is an increased level of security, the record of trucks and shape analysis.

Also for public actors such as the customs the increased level of automation and digitalization represented an important asset to improve the Risk Management and the container to investigate allowing the sharing of information among the Customs involves in an end to end transport perspective.

The Future Challenge

First of all the real question remains what the port wants to achieve by becoming smart – in other words what is the strategic imperative. This strategic goal should go beyond mere efficiency improvements and focus on a holistic, long term strategy, where insights are distilled from smart applications enabling a transition towards an insight driven company. This challenge is amplified by the large variety that exists between ports for e.g. a pure bulk port versus a container port.

The Port authorities ecosystems must be aware that the digital threat is just as important, certainly if ports continue on their path towards further digitalization. The need for cooperation between ports, in order to truly share data and insights is something that is unexplored, driven by a certain form of protectionism of the port authorities on their own data is a major hurdle in the development of a true Smart Port strategy.

Source: On the Mos Way Staff

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