Smart ships need smart ports

In my last article I talked about artificial intelligence (or augmented intelligence, if you will) on a quite theoretical level. In this article, I will instead take a closer look at the practical implementation of AI in a specific area that has gained my interest a lot recently – shipping ports.

The shipping sector is experiencing a technological revolution that is changing traditional working practices forever. Digital tools and solutions are delivering a range of benefits, which include increased efficiencies, vital cost savings, lower emissions, increased visibility of cargo, and not least, enhanced crew welfare. However, the sea port sector has not been evolving as fast and is still quite traditional in many countries. One thing that is clear is that smart ships need smart ports for its full potential. Despite that, there are some great examples of how digital applications can play a central role in port operations, from logistics management to improving cargo activities.

For example, a very exciting digital port development is taking place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, where the 42-kilometer large port is implementing IoT technologies, AI and cloud to drive efficiencies and operational transformation. Centralised dashboards can collect real-time water, weather and communications data, analyse it and process it into real-time, useful data that ships and port operators can use to their advantage. The Port of Rotterdam also recently announced investments in applications using artificial intelligence to predict vessel arrival times in the port.

Similarly, the Port of Antwerp is leveraging real-time data to drive operational improvement by using NxtPort, an information-sharing platform. Antwerp’s goal is to become a self-sustaining data-commercialization organization that gathers, stores, analyses and exchanges data with all kinds of parties within its logistics operation.

Another interesting example is the Finland-based company Cargotec that offers industry shaping, eco-efficient cargo handling equipment and automated terminal solutions and have a unique position to optimise global cargo flows and create sustainable customer value. Orange Business are providing Cargotec with tangible business benefits enabling new digital services and delivering a much higher degree of operational efficiency, both internally and further down the value chain.

Trade and cargo volumes continue to grow, today around 80 per cent of global trade by volume are carried by sea and is handled by ports worldwide, according to UN’s latest Review of Maritime Transport. Our goal at Orange Business is to assist the digital development in ports around the world. When making the ports smarter, all data needs to be available and easy exchanged. This requires the right infrastructure and a good communications system where everything is connected, including all the devices, data and most importantly: the people.

Simon Ranyard
Simon Ranyard

Simon Ranyard is Managing Director for Nordics, UK and Ireland at Orange Business and is based in London, England. With 20 years' experience in ICT in sales functions, Simon is driving a revenue growth plan by focusing on the innovative services that Orange can bring to its customers and on continuously improving the way we work with them.

In his spare time, Simon is a keen cricket fan and enjoys supporting youth development in the game.