Port operations in a globalised society

In an era of a globalised supply chain, the role of the port has evolved from its traditional cargo handling and storage functions to being an integral part of the global supply chain. With the growing demand for integrated logistics services and the intensification of port competition, a port must collaborate and cooperate with its supply chain partners to provide value-added services to its customers and, by extension, to its entire regional area of influence.

Today, instead of companies competing with each other, the logistics chains engage in more active competition. Greater efficiency of their operations gives them advantages over their rivals and positions them higher above other companies in the market. In order to identify all the items that make up the most efficient logistics chains, it is necessary to analyse and combine systems, processes, people, teams and strategies in order to find the most profitable and efficient solutions for all parties involved. Economies with efficient logistic solutions can easily connect companies in their territories with national and international markets through reliable supply chains, while countries with inefficient logistics face high costs, both in terms of time and money, in international trade and global supply chains, leaving their companies at great disadvantages.

On an international level, the position of the economies in the logistics sector can be evaluated through the World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index – a tool comprising different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that reflect the perceptions of logistics of a country based on the efficiencies of processes of customs clearance, the quality of available commercial and transport infrastructures, the ease of arranging shipments at competitive prices, the quality of logistics services, the ability to track and trace shipments, and the frequency with which shipments arrive at the consignees on time. From this perspective, ports play an essential role, which can only be optimised when all actors and agents collaborate and interact efficiently. We are not only talking about the actions of port authorities; the direct and active participation of shipowners, exporters, importers, shippers, customs agencies, consignment agents, freight forwarders, stevedoring companies, land and multimodal carriers, port and terminal concessionaires, customs authorities, health services, among others is crucial.

Nowadays, the role of a port is not only limited to its port or technological infrastructures, but also to its role as a productive and efficient logistic platform thanks to the integration of all processes and the information capabilities of its actors. In this way, an efficient port becomes an engine for the economy.

This coordination is possible when all the agents of the port community, as well as the rest of the members of the logistics chain, are aware of the roles and responsibilities of each of their interlocutors. This allows the gear between all of them to be much more fluid and efficient. In this sense, the knowledge and training on “what happens in a port” help to generate synergies and process improvements among the participants of the operations, both maritime and terrestrial, and to pave the way for integration, presenting the client as a single entity: the port.

Specialised training in port operations will help increase the efficiency and safety of operations. Ensuring that all actors in the logistics chain are informed of and understand the working procedures will make it easier to find equilibrium between the different actors in order to provide better operation times and greatly reduce operational costs.

As such, the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport has brought together the main actors that make up and partake in port operations to offer specialised training, with the goal of contributing to the improvement of the efficiency of ports and logistics operations on a national scale. This course is part of the Summer School of the Escola, which will take place from 1 to 12 July, and is divided into two scenarios of port operations: vessel operations and goods operations. During the two weeks, participants will be able to get to know all the actors involved in port operations in order to get a panoramic and integrated view of what happens during the passage of goods through a port.

You can find out more about the upcoming course by exploring the course programmes (https://www.escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/port-operations-for-vessels/

 and https://www.escolaeuropea.eu/calendar/summer-school-port-operations-for-goods/

) , or by writing to the Escola (info@escolaeuropea.eu).

The ARETÉ AURUM awarded posthumously to Doctor Aldo Grimaldi

On the 25th of May the ARETÉ AURUM award ceremony was held, awarded posthumously to Doctor Aldo Grimaldi. The ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Port Authority of Barcelona. The award was presented by Mercè Conesa, the President of both the Escola Europea and the Port of Barcelona, and was collected by Isabella Grimaldi, the daughter of Doctor Grimaldi. Participating in the ceremony were Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola, Valerio Esposito, GNV representative in Spain, and other members of the Grimaldi family.

The Executive Committee of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport, held in Barcelona on the 4th of April, unanimously took the decision to grant the ARETÉ AURUM award posthumously to Aldo Grimaldi in appreciation for his decisive contribution to the successful development of short sea shipping and the motorways of the sea in the Trans-European Transport Network and, as a founding member on behalf of Grandi Navi Veloci, to the success of the Escola.

The Escola grants the ARETÉ AURUM to people whose attitude and actions have decisive contributions to the creation and growth of our institution. Joaquín Coello (2016), José Anselmo Laranjeira (2016) and Sixte Cambra (2018) have received this distinction in the past.

 

#DidYouKnow – Short guide on packaging and security

In this article for #DidYouKnow we think about the packaging and security of consolidated shipments (groupage). The question we aim to answer is how the should the boxes be transported? Several factors are the key to ensure the safe arrival of the goods at their destinations. These include:

Packing: Packing must be made and manufactured “to measure” to avoid potential movements of the goods inside the wooden boxes.

Handling: It is very important to pay special attention to the markings on the boxes, which contain information for correct handling.

Storage: The conditions and duration of storage should be adequate to avoid any potential damage to the box, which could result in the damage of some (if not all) of the goods stored within.

Transport: The packaging must be conditioned for the type of transport used.

Alongside these factors, the actual transport of our goods needs to be considered when planning the packaging of our goods. This can be sub-divided into the different transport modes:

  • Maritime:If the packaging is going to travel by sea, its destination, the type of container in which it will travel and the main components of the merchandise need to be taken into consideration prior to the packaging.We must bear in mind that the merchandise will be subjected to high levels of humidity, condensation and salinity. Therefore, for this type of transport, and in particular when dealing with goods that comprise electrical components, it is wise to use VCI protections, which release a series of micro particles that adhere to the goods and help reduce the risk of oxidation. Though mitigating the risks, these protections can’t fully guarantee the avoidance of moisture.Another common protection used by industry professionals is the use of barrier protections. These include the placing of a cover of an aluminum complex applied to a vacuum next to desiccant salts. This creates a microclimate within the cover, which allows the cargo to withstand pressure changes and avoids oxidation or corrosion of the goods within.
  • Air:The packaging that travels by air is subject to sudden changes in temperatures, condensation and humidity. As such, the protections used within packaging mimic those used in maritime transport (see above).
  • RoadGenerally, ground transportation does not call for specific protection unless the goods themselves, the warehouses visiting on the route, or the places visited during the transport journey call for it. Therefore, the packaging of road transport goods needs to be considered on an individual basis.

In all of the three cases listed above, lashing of the packaging needs to be considered. Lashing the merchandise ensures that it is completely immobilised. The goal is to prevent possible damages to the goods caused by blows, rubbing, displacements or overturns during transport.

Lashing of goods

Lashing is a very important in ensuring that goods arrive in perfect conditions at their destinations. What is lashing? It refers to the immobilising and attaching of the merchandise to the container, ship or truck.

There are no restrictions – all types of cargo can be lashed, whether they will be transported by air, sea or land.

It is called for whenever there is some free space between the cargo and the container. Lashing is done by means of slings and tensioners or airbags; this further depends on the characteristics and needs of the merchandise.

Occasionally, wood reinforcements can be used to stabilise the load and make the lashing safer. For example, vehicle transport can require standard lashing that consists of a sling system or mixed lashing (which uses standard lashing with an added wooden ring around the wheels for greater protection).

Both packing and lashing are key for the correct transport of consolidated loads. If they are not done correctly, they can cause accidents and result in (potentially very pricy) damages in the transport of goods. The packaged goods need to travel in the best possible conditions for content protection and load security, ensuring that the products arrive in pristine states at their destinations.

If you want to know more about packaging in consolidated transport, check out our upcoming course on Groupage and Consolidation Centres scheduled for the 17-19 of June 2019.

Written by:

  • Beatriz Jiménez, Servicios Recipe TM2, S.A.

A box management ecosystem to solve the empty container dilemma

We need to re-oriente our thinking towards container management, argues Nicholas Press from CEC Systems.

Visibility is a high priority for shippers and carriers alike. Whether it is rate comparison, booking freight, tracking or monitoring a temperature-sensitive container, visibility is a necessity in today’s market. The growing number of technology providers providing visibility such as Traxens, Savi and EyeSeal and the evolution of interoperability of solutions improvements. The goal in much of these improvements is to provide shippers with more accurate, up-to-date location data and better analytics about where and why cargo bottlenecks occur.

While improving visibility is important, for the industry to achieve sustained improvements it needs to recognize that there are many inputs and relationships that surround the movement of containers which are integral to the successful movement of goods globally. There is a bigger picture that is often overlooked, however. That bigger picture is not solely focused on container transaction but rather, a container ecosystem that encompasses the entire lifecycle of containers and tracking devices – from research & development of hardware, the manufacturing process, ownership, maintenance, loading, booking, and tracking, final delivery, the repositioning and storage of the empty containers and, ultimately, the recycling of the containers.

If the industry is going to generate real efficiencies, there must be a move away from siloed management of containers towards a holistic approach.

Container management must be an ongoing evolution that brings four key areas of focus into an ecosystem. Effective management relies on more than just box optimization, it requires the physical, digital, analytics and services to be considered as equal parts of an overall solution. These four areas form a container ecosystem that when viewed and managed together, offer a comprehensive and integrated solution for the efficient use of containers.

Proper management of empty containers, for example, warrants extra attention as empty containers are one of the most significant areas of lost profit. The four areas (physical, digital, analytics, and services) interconnect and as you look to optimize and create new efficiencies in one area, you must also seek the advancement of the other three. Without a level of concurrent progress, the industry is potentially advancing without the strong foundation required to achieve real efficiencies. For example, as we at CEC Systems continue to evolve the collapsible container design, we will continue to develop and evolve the other areas in unison.

Begin with the physical

Let’s start with the design of the container. The global shipping and logistics industry is losing over $30bn annually on storing, handling and distributing empty containers but the general design of the box has not really evolved over the past 40 years. There is a good reason for this as there needs to be an international standard that allows freight to move across borders, but that doesn’t make it optimal in achieving long-term sustainability.

Instead of waiting for international standards to catch up with changing shipping needs, CEC Systems has developed COLLAPSECON – the world’s first semi-automated Collapsible-Economic-Container that enables four empty units to be collapsed and combined to form a single container, thus significantly reducing the cost of storing, handling and distributing empty containers. By utilising containers that collapse and combine, we are able to achieve a greater level of asset utilisation and availability across the global fleet. The result of this is a reduction in waste, bottlenecks, and congestion throughout the global network and a contribution towards a sustainable industry.

Although the container forms the physical part of the empty container issue it would be a mistake to focus only on this part as it does not take into account the other three container management areas. However, by re-orienting our thinking and making the container itself part of the container management ecosystem alongside tracking, analytics, and services, the combined effect is an improvement in operational efficiency and provisions a better return on investment and reduced environmental impact when compared to standard containers.

Add the digital

While the container itself as a physical item is the primary concern, we cannot proceed as an industry from shying away from the benefits digitalization brings. It is all very well and good that we seek to evolve the box itself, but we must in parallel be seeking to make containers as smart as possible.

As part of the ecosystem, the industry should be aiming to provide a new level of efficiency to tracking and optimizing container movements. If the industry desires real efficiencies, technology should allow a participant to monitor not only the container but the pallet, the box, the packet as well as have the ability to drill down to the level of detail to the individual product inside. Tracking should provide real-time and actionable information and through the use of blockchain, ensure the security and accuracy of data throughout the value chain. Trading partners, as well as service providers, will gain better visibility in their supply chains and understand their true costs of operation. This, in turn, can allow them to remove recurring issues from their network.

Achieving improved container management through the use of digital technologies and tracking may sound like a monumental challenge and very expensive, but in today’s digital age, the cost of technology continues to decline and many solutions exist to provide the level of visibility needed within the ecosystem parameters for improved container management.

Analysis and insights

A growing number of technologies such as sensors are not only tracking container location but also temperature, humidity levels and even the number of bumps along the route. In addition, sensors are sending information to improve the accuracy of data that may not have been caught or able to be managed through manual means.

However, big data is useless unless you can pull “actionable” data out of it. For an ecosystem to work a fundamental breakdown of data and information silos across the network is necessary. The knowledge and data provided by these devices and sensors need to be captured, securely stored in the blockchain and transformed into insights. It is not about generating more data, it is about generating knowledge and understanding to support better decision making.

Members of the ecosystem should be able to analyse their networks at both the macro and micro levels to create transparency, support continuous improvement, and create value for the stakeholders with their investments.

The result being, better analysis, actionable insights, accountability, and greater efficiencies. Not just for the operator or shipper, but for the industry as a whole.

Services to support the ecosystem

Adding to the physical, digital and analytics aspects, in terms of services, we can break this into three different components. There is the maintenance of existing assets, the continuous development of underlying technologies and the support services to enable functionality and operations. These services can include the management of containers, research & development, inspection, repair, requisite training and in the case of collapsible containers, collapsing as a service.

This is incredibly important to understand, as the ecosystem is about more than just a physical container and digital technologies. It’s about ensuring containers and other hardware such as tracking devices and underlying technologies are treated as assets, not commodities. If consideration is not provided then assets become useless before the end of their potential life span. Beyond lost revenue and poor service, the result is the need to build more units at additional financial and environmental costs.

We at CEC Systems envision these supporting services for the ecosystem that is similar to how aircraft are maintained… just far less complicated and life critical. As the fleet owner, we will look to develop our own maintenance services over time but we also will rely on partners in regions to ensure the ecosystem is maintained and users see the greatest benefit.

Not only do these services extend to a deeper level of customer service (satisfaction) but they also prolong the life and utilization of the hardware across the ecosystem, making them a more profitable investment for shippers and carriers alike.

How the ecosystem naturally begets sustainability

In the container management ecosystem, there needs to be greater attention paid not just to what happens when a container is built and used for the movement of goods, but throughout the containers entire life cycle. In particular, as we discussed it above, there needs to be a move away from market dumping/asset write off towards treating containers, other hardware, and software as important assets like ships and ports. In case of containers, for example, that means one needs to consider how containers are made, where materials are sourced from, what materials are used, what quality assurance processes are considered, how they are repaired, how they are used and in the end, how they are properly disposed of.

While they may not be able to be used on the seas, they can be modified for other purposes such as emergency accommodation to support disaster relief or short-term accommodation for those without a home (and in some cases, entire Apartment Communities built out of old containers). There are plenty of options for the faithful box but as part of the physical area of the container management ecosystem, we will end up with thousands of containers spread throughout the world. Where possible, recycling of these assets should be placed as a top priority.

In conclusion

Creating and supporting a container ecosystem creates a holistic approach to container shipping in a way that hasn’t been considered before. In terms of organizational health, the ability to collapse and store four containers in the space of one will go a long way towards saving companies money. By investing in the life cycle of these containers, fewer resources will be poured into making new ones which will also protect both the environment and the profit margin. The hardware and software that goes into managing containers will provide a new level of visibility throughout the supply chain increasing both agility and efficiency. The service offering created through this arrangement not only helps to support the container ecosystem but will also serve to deepen and, subsequently, strengthen the working relationships between collaborating partners.

By re-orienting our thinking towards a container management ecosystem consisting of the physical, tracking, analytics, and services, the combined effect will be a long-term improvement in operational efficiency, better return on investment and reduced environmental impact.

Source: Splash 247

Tempearture Controlled Supply Chains

The first edition of the Temperature Controlled Supply Chains Technical course ends with great success

In the second quarter of 2019 the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport began to implement the scheduled technical courses of the year. The courses, aimed at professionals active in the logistics- port sector, began with the first edition of the “Temperature Controlled Supply Chains” course, which took place between the 6th and the 9th of May.

The course covered concepts associated with cold supply chains. Encompassing details of the common practices in planning and execution of said supply chains, the course made it possible for the participants to discover each of the steps required in these transport operations. A special focus was given to intermodal processes as well. Course contents included the distribution of temperature-controlled products (warehousing, manoeuvring and transport) through distribution networks (suppliers, service providers and clients) in accordance with their specified temperature conditions. Visits to Mercabarna (the wholesale market of Barcelona), a container terminal, an importer/distributor storage facility, a container depot, and the Border Inspection Point accompanied the theory.

In this first edition, the Port of Barcelona, Mercabarna, Barcelona Container Depot Service, Caudete Logística, Grimaldi Lines, Maritime Terminal of Zaragoza, Maersk, Frimercat, Cultivar and Martico collaborated with the Escola in the development of contents and visits. The participants comprised a dozen professionals from the transport and logistics sectors, coming from companies such as: JCV Shipping & Solutions, Noatum Maritime, COSCO Shipping, Total Freight, Saice, Agility, Arola, Dallant and Solport.

Álvaro Sánchez, a Mediterraean Reefer Specialist and a presenter in the course, stated the following about the experience: “It is a young course that can meet the knowledge needs and concerns of all participants in the cold chain and create an awareness of good practices in the handling of cargo transported under controlled temperature conditions. The combination of theory and technical visits (terminal, Depot, warehouses …) makes it even more interesting. “

In the coming months the Escola Europea will carry out the remaining technical courses of the year including: training in rail-port intermodality SURCO Operations I, from the 10th to 12th of June; training in Groupage and Consolidation Centres, between the 17th and 19th of June; and the Summer School in Port Operations, with a focus on Vessels and Cargo, from the 1st to the 5th and 8th to 12th respectively.

Artificial Intelligence

Shipowners Still Not Ready to Give Up Control to Autonomous Vessels

Shipowners seem to be hesitant to relinquish control of their vessels in favor of autonomous solutions, as they trust their captains and crews more than smart technology.

In general, the shipping industry’s approach to new technologies has been described as “conservative“, especially when it comes to autonomous solutions that could theoretically replace the crew.

This has led to the slow adoption of solutions that are vital to reducing collisions, Yarden Gross, CEO of Orca AI revealed in an interview with World Maritime News.

In order to overcome the maritime industry’s fear of new technology adoption, the company has designed the Orca AI system to be “a tool that the crews can use, not to replace the crew.”

Established in 2018, Orca AI has the vision to reduce human-caused errors through intelligent autonomous vessels. The company was founded by Yarden Gross and Dor Raviv, who both have served in the navy and know the industry and its needs.

“We realized that despite the technological advances being adopted for other modes of transport, the shipping industry is lagging behind. This is due to a variety of factors, including that the maritime environment requires navigation and collision avoidance technology, which need to be specifically suited to the industry and that’s what we seek to provide,” Gross said.

“We want to help create an ecosystem that will lead us to autonomous ships while keeping in mind that we’re not quite there yet.”

He added that there are things that need to be done to improve safety now — providing collision avoidance technology that works for ships.

As informed, 3,000 marine collisions occur each year and more than 75% are due to errors in human judgment. According to Gross, this is alarming as current navigational tools require a significant reliance on human judgment, which leaves room for costly error.

“Our immediate goal was to create a solution that would help ships use AI safely navigate zero and extremely low visibility conditions and crowded waterways, where the majority of collisions take place. Our solution minimizes the opportunity for errors in judgment, thereby reducing the chances of collisions.”

Orca AI system

Specifically, the Orca AI system uses sensors already on board a vessel and adds separate ones as well, such as thermal and low-light cameras, and feeds the information into an AI-powered navigation system.

The system was designed to be easy to use and intuitive, given that the crew manning the bridge is occupied with a myriad of responsibilities, so the system enables them to make smarter navigation decisions more easily. There is no training required to operate the system and it doesn’t add extra work for the crew, Yarden said.

As visibility issues are common and a big contributing factor in naval collisions, Orca AI founders said they decided to tackle that issue right from the start with sensors designed for situations with poor visibility. Orca AI is currently operational and providing crews with crucial information in piloted installations on board vessels. Those pilots are continuing as the company develops new versions of the system.

Installation

Orca AI has been installed and piloted onboard several car carriers owned by Ray Carriers, the company’s first client and key investor.

Data from the voyages that have been taken since the system installation are still being analyzed, but so far everything is looking promising, Orca AI’s co-founder said.

The Orca AI system can be used on any vessel – size is not an issue, as the sensor payload is not very large or intrusive. However, the company is focusing on larger vessels first, as the challenges of collision avoidance and costs of collisions are most pronounced for this class of ships.

“Orca AI’s navigation system is fit for all types of vessels, using information from sensors already on board and supplementing them with cameras of their own in a relatively small payload. We are looking forward to working with different classes of ships, helping them safely navigate crowded waterways and avoid collisions in hard-to-see situations where their difficulty in rapidly adjusting course makes early detection of other ships a priority,” Gross told WMN.

When asked what are the prerequisites for the installation of the Orca AI solution, Gross pointed out that there are no impediments to installing the system on any ship type. The installation is said to be straightforward and the system is easy to integrate on the bridge, so the age of the ship has no impact on the process.

AI and the maritime industry

Several autonomous vessels projects are currently being developed around the world. As informed, Orca AI is in discussions with the large technology providers that are building the eco-system for the future of autonomous vessels. Gross noted that these companies understand that they cannot build everything by themselves, so they are seeking partners to collaborate with.

“An autonomous vessels are like a puzzle, there are many crucial pieces that all need to fit together, and we are trying to build the best technology in the world for one of the most important pieces of the puzzle,” according to Gross.

Artificial Intelligence, which has been the buzzword over the recent time, is becoming increasingly important for the maritime industry as well.

“AI is a tool for solving problems that have been hard to solve until now. For the maritime industry, it is enabling us to tackle issues such as detection of ships and other items on the water, and alerting and assisting the captain and the crew with the navigation of the ship,” Gross said, adding that AI is also helping solve many more problems in the industry such as logistics, predictive maintenance, internal operations, etc.

“I think that for certain use cases AI is already able to provide real value, and as the maritime industry continues to adopt AI solutions and develop them, we will see increased efficiency and safety, as well as seeing a reduction of costs across the board,” Gross concluded.

At the end of January 2019, Orca AI closed a funding round, raising USD 2.6 million. With the help of the new funds, the company plans to grow its engineering ranks and establish an office in Europe this year.

Orca AI’s key steps for moving forward will be to continue installation of the company’s system onboard more ships, which has so far proved to be a major success. Additional partnerships with other shipping companies are currently in the works and Orca AI is ramping up production to meet the growing demand.

Source: World Maritime News

#DidYouKnow – LCL packaging and shipments

In this article for #DidYouKnow we consider the steps and precautions that need to be taken into account in consolidated shipments and groupage operations.

When sending an ocean freight LCL (Less than a Container Load) shipment the cargo needs to be carefully prepared. LCL shipments require container sharing, and therefore the shippers need to take extra caution to ensure the integrity of the merchandise handled.

Source: Fortune Global

The two most common causes for damages to LCL loads are the collapse of stowed materials caused by the shipper’s improper stowage of cargo inside the container, and insufficient individual packaging and contamination caused by the incompatibility of cargo within the same container.

This prompted us to draft this article to clarify the issue at hand: How should an LCL shipment be properly packaged and prepared? Certain aspects need to be considered when ensuring safe transportation of this type of cargo. Some of these include identifying whether the goods in the shipment are fragile, and how many boxes will eventually comprise the entire consignment. Once these questions are ascertained, the shipper can prepare the packaging and the proceed with the labeling of the goods.

In terms of the boxes and packaging, the general rule of thumb is to pack all the goods in boxes, and avoid the use of suitcases or bags. Ideally, special boxes designed for export should be used. Should the shipment contain delicate merchandise, the empty space inside the boxes should be filled with plastic packaging bubbles for added padding and protection. Finally, each box needs to be individually and securely sealed.

On the outside of the boxes clear labels need to be placed, containing the names of the shipper and the consignees, country of destination, name of the freight forwarder and the booking number. If the merchandise is fragile, the “Fragile” label should appear on the sides of the boxes. There are other types of labels that could be added to containers with delicate cargo. These include the orientation of the box to be handled, storage advice, chemical identifiers, etc. Whether or not the labels are placed on the boxes is up to the shipper and to the nature of the cargo.

The labels should also identify the total number of boxes within each shipment. The label should have a number that indicates each box position with respect to the total number of boxes: “Box 1 of 30”.

Finally, when preparing the boxes merchandise needs to be arranged evenly and uniformly. Shipping prices are calculated based on the cubic volume of the contents. Once cargo volume is calculated and the booking is placed with a freight forwarder, it is time to start thinking about palletising the goods. Unlike an FCL shipment where goods can travel loosely within a container, LCL containers are shared. Everything has to be perfectly and properly palletised. When measuring the volume of your shipment, one needs to always take into consideration the pallets used.

Once all of these steps have been taken, the shipment is ready to be sent on its way to its final destination in a safe and organised fashion.

Written by:

  • Raquel Nunes, Training Programmes & External Relations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

The Escola Europea reaffirms its commitment to the Motorways of the Sea

On the 4th of April the Steering Committee of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport met in the framework of the “Motorways of the Sea in the Western Mediterranean – Climate Action Programme 2020 The Way Forward” conference in Barcelona. The Committee, which comprises representatives from the primary stakeholders fo the Escola, is tasked with establishing the strategic direction of the institution.

The meeting brought together, among others, the president of the Port of Barcelona and of the Escola Europea Mercè Conesa; the commercial director of short sea shipping in Grimaldi Lines and the president of the ALIS group, Guido Grimaldi; the president of the ports of Rome Francesco Maria di Majo; the CEO of Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV) Matteo Catani; the president of the Ports of Genoa Paolo Emilio Signorini (via teleconference); and the director of the Escola Europea, Eduard Rodés.

During the meeting the Escola’s achievements of 2018 were highlighted and the goals for 2019 were solidified. The participants confirmed that the Escola is consolidating its role as a reference for training both on local and international levels, not only in short sea shipping but in the intermodal transport sector in general. Some of the institution’s achievements of 2018 were:

  • In 2018, the Escola has organised more tan 35 courses with more than 1300 participants coming from Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. The increase in the number of participants coming from the other side of the Atlantic and from throughout the Mediterranean was noted. This international flow helps spread the European model of short sea shipping to the African and American continents, contributing to the improvement of sustainable transport globally.
  • In the framework fo the TransLogMED Project, the Escola has organised: two conferences in Sfax and Algiers; three training courses, one of which was aimed at senior Algerian officials and with the collaboration of the World Bank, and another one aimed at senior officials from the Tunisian government; and 4 collaboration agreements were signed with relevant bodies in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Moreover, the Escola has participated in various industry fairs in the participating countries.
  • The Escola has been the project office of various actions financed by European funds, including CarEsmatic, Core LNGas Hive, and is part of the consortium that is running the RePort project financied byt eh RIS3CAT programme.

During the event the Committee approved actions for 2019, including:

  • The new technical courses “Temperature Controlled Supply Chains” and “Port Operations: Vessels & Goods”, which will have renewed and more complete programmes when compared to the previous editions
  • The Formati al Porto programme, based on the very successful Forma’t al Port model which has in the past few years achieved tremendous results in Barcelona, will be developed from the newely opened offices of the Escola in the headquarters of the Port Authority of the Ports of Rome ( Autoridad del Sistema Portuario del Mar Tirreno Centro Septentrional)

2019 shows all signs of being a very intensive one for the Escola Europea, with courses for professionals programmed for the autumn and courses for university and professional training students scheduled throughout the year. In the past decade, the organisation has increased its influence in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean through the development of new and innovative courses for students and professionals, the signing of new agreements with influential universities and training centres, and the active participation in European projects.

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Improving Ocean Shipping: Blockchain Reaction

Blockchain technology is capturing interest across the supply chain, and the maritime industry is no exception. Nine ocean carriers and terminal operators are so interested that they recently formed a consortium to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), an open digital platform based on distributed ledger technology.

Participants in the consortium include CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines, Evergreen Marine, OOCL, and Yang Ming as well as terminal operators DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA International Ltd., and Shanghai International Port.

“The new platform, an ecosystem for the shipping community, will connect all shareholders including ocean carriers, terminal operators, customs authorities, shippers, and logistics providers to realize collaborative innovation and digital transformation in the supply chain,” according to a Yang Ming spokesman.

These goals are similar to the expectations expressed by Maersk and Kuehne + Nagel, early adopters of blockchain technology.

In January 2018, A. P. Moller-Maersk and IBM announced plans to pursue blockchain solutions. Then in August 2018, the two companies collaborated to create TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled shipping solution.

Ninety-four organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate in the TradeLens ecosystem, including 20 port and terminal operators accounting for approximately 234 marine gateways worldwide, Additionally, customs authorities, freight forwarders, and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) have joined.

Freight forwarder Kuehne + Nagel participates in a blockchain consortium consisting of consultancy Accenture, ocean carrier APL, and shipper AB InBev.

In its most basic form, blockchain is “shared ledger technology” enabling a single, shared, tamper-proof ledger, according to IBM. Once recorded, transactions cannot be altered. Anticipated benefits include less paper processing, increased transaction time speed, and improved efficiencies.

Although it is often used as a single technology, there are two different types of blockchain: public and private. Some of the most commonly known public blockchains are the cryptocurrency ones used for bitcoin transactions. Because these are completely transparent, participants are concerned about dealing with sensitive information, such as commercial contracts.

CARING ABOUT SHARING

Sharing the exact details of contracts and transactions is problematic for freight forwarders, ocean carriers, and shippers. These various stakeholders may collaborate with each other, but not with their competitors. This level of transparency may be an issue with supply chain strategy increasingly becoming a competitive advantage for companies and freight forwarders seeking differentiation in a crowded and fragmented market.

While a consistent wave of ocean carrier consolidation has occurred in the past few years, the remaining players still compete for volume. Empty containers do not generate revenue.

Private blockchains allow users different permission levels, so access can be restricted, and information can be encrypted to adapt to users’ needs.

Transporting goods internationally can become complex, both in terms of physical distribution and cross-border data exchange. Documents related to hazardous cargo, invoicing, cargo release, and other required customs information are vital to the actual movement of goods.

One missing or inaccurate form can keep freight from being delivered. Unlike domestic U.S.-based transportation, global shippers cannot immediately contact a provider and have a new truck dispatched within moments or hours to avert the supply chain implications of a missed or delayed delivery.

One reason the maritime industry is embracing blockchain is to “reform document processes of shipping management,” says a Yang Ming spokesman. The first prototype of GSBN allows shippers to digitize their documents and proceed to automatically exchange data with relevant supply chain parties. This simplifies the complicated documentation process and expedites the delivery of goods.

THE BUSINESS CASE

“Blockchain might not be able to solve, cure, or save everything as the hype suggests, but there are certainly applications where the business case makes sense,” says Adrian Gonzalez, president of Adelante SCM and a supply chain technology analyst. “It makes sense in global trade because of the many different parties, documents, regulations, and financial transactions involved.”

HOW BLOCKCHAIN IS USED IN OCEAN FREIGHT

Kuehne + Nagel’s first blockchain activities date back to 2016, when the concept received board-level support and it began case identification workshop.

“Our approach is to work with customers and business partners on real-world use cases in open and collaborative consortia,” says Inge Ole Ottemoller, senior IT https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/improving-ocean-shipping-blockchain-reaction/consultant and blockchain expert for Kuehne + Nagel. “Using new technologies such as blockchain is an element of business strategy to continuously improve our processes as well as the business model.”

Fast forward to 2019, and Kuehne + Nagel states there is much work still to be done to achieve the promise of blockchain technology. “Blockchain has the potential to enable further digitalization of existing processes,” Ottemoller notes. “But the technology is still at a very early stage.” .

“With the experience already gained, the technology used at the present time does not yet have the maturity for productive use in extensive, complex applications,” he adds. “In particular, the requirements for maintainability and automated operation are hardly met.”

However, some successes have come from its blockchain consortium, which has focused on one central document in ocean freight: the bill of lading. “The consortium already developed a proof-of-concept for an electronic bill of lading use case from export and import to a common blockchain-based ledger,” reports Kuehne + Nagel.

This group effort “demonstrated how the application of blockchain for issuing and exchanging bills of lading can unleash huge efficiencies for the industry due to seamless and tamper-proof data integration,” says Ottemoller. “The need for printed shipping documents is rendered obsolete.”

Maersk also reports benefits from its adoption of blockchain technology, and specifically, the TradeLens application.

The platform has captured more than 154 million shipping events, including arrival times of vessels and container “gate-in,” and documents such as customs releases, commercial invoices, and bills of lading. In the past, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems shared some of this data in the supply chain.

The TradeLens platform has already proven to be effective. One example Maersk reports is a 40 percent reduction in transit times to ship packaging materials to a production line, avoiding thousands of dollars in costs.

The GSBN consortium hopes to achieve these types of real-world supply chain enhancements. “We are always willing to try innovative technologies to keep up with the digital transformation of the shipping industry in collaboration with others,” says a Yang Ming spokesman.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCKCHAIN

The blockchain “revolution” has also lured new players to the market, such as CargoX, a company that created a neutral, open, independent platform available to ocean carriers and other stakeholders. While other consortiums may be limited in the ability to expand or onboard new carriers, “Our platform solves these issues, as it is based on a neutral, open, public Ethereum blockchain network,” notes Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX.

Although public, the CargoX platform is secure because the transparency it provides, “only relates to the transparency of time-stamps of certain transactions,” Kukman says. “What is being translated is completely invisible, as the content of the documents and data fields is encrypted and secured from unauthorized viewing.”

Recently, CargoX customer ShipChain completed a successful blockchain-based pilot shipping initiative with Perdue Farms. During the pilot, ShipChain tracked Perdue fleet data and recorded it in the Ethereum blockchain.

Early adopters such as Kuehne + Nagel remain optimistic about the future of blockchain and the maritime industry. The freight forwarder is using the application in the areas of workflow, trade finance, provenance, and visibility.

THE RIGHT DIRECTION

“The development points in the right direction, so it can be assumed that the technology will reach the required level of maturity in the future,” says Ottemoller. “Thanks to the project experience already gained, Kuehne + Nagel is in a position to have an educated judgement on the state of play for this new technology.”

The many companies adopting blockchain platforms share a common vision of the technology’s benefits to the supply chain, and the ocean freight sector specifically. These include:

  • Reduced paper-based processes
  • Reduced waiting time
  • Faster transit times
  • Transparency across processes and company boundaries

QUESTIONS AND MORE QUESTIONS

As additional new entities enter the same space with unique platforms, however, reaching these goals may be a challenge for shippers.

With providers ranging from ocean carriers to freight forwarders to software companies offering different options for blockchain platforms and consortiums, how does a shipper that does not want to work with only one provider deal with the challenge of enabling integration and interoperability between those platforms? With multiple groups working to establish global shipping standards, which standards will ultimately benefit shippers most?

Gonzalez also raises another area of potential concern: Can any technology, new or dated, overcome bad data? “It’s important to note that blockchain doesn’t erase the fact that supply chains still suffer from crappy data,” Gonzalez cautions. “It doesn’t erase the integration challenge of aggregating, cleansing, and linking together data that is spread out across many different applications.

“Some were built in the 1970s, across many companies and countries, some with limited or no IT capabilities and stored in many different formats, including email and faxes,” he adds. “In short, blockchain by itself does not solve the problem of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ data quality problems, but it is a distributed ledger that is better encrypted and traceable.”

DIGITALIZATION AGENDA

Other issues beyond the scope of blockchain alone need to be resolved to improve efficiency in the ocean freight industry. “Digitalization and blockchain are not synonyms,” notes Kukman. “They are tightly connected because the shipping industry is lagging behind in its digital processing.

“But blockchain implementation is just a part of the whole digitalization agenda,” he adds. “And digitalization as such is inevitable—it is time that the paper processing machinery is transformed into modern, trustworthy digital solutions.”

Whether using a CargoX platform or another application for blockchain, the ocean freight industry must embrace technology to “deal with the problems that arise from the snail’s pace of transferring paper documents,” Kukman states. Paper documents can be damaged, lost, or even forged or stolen.

“Those ocean carriers that don’t embrace digitalization will start losing their market share,” predicts Kukman. “Global trade relies on digital data and new services, and this reliance will just get stronger. The carriers that decide to adopt blockchain know what the advantages are.”

End customers will have the greatest benefit in knowing where existing documents, transactions and goods are located, as well as whose turn it is to make the next step in the process,” Kukman adds.

Additional benefits for end users are likely to be realized in the area of forecasting. “The CargoX platform provides new ways of analyzing past business events to support forecasting loads and volume, identifying throughput bottlenecks, and other issues,” Kukman says.

One of the biggest impediments to blockchain and other forms of digitalization is the fact that many companies still rely on paper processes because “that’s the way it has always been done.” That kind of thinking is what will determine winners from losers in the future because, says Kukman, “We don’t ride horses for transportation anymore, do we?”

Source: Inbound Logistics

Automation Lessons from Other Sectors

In a previous insight, Port Technology focused on how automation could impact the employment of both landside workers and seafarers in the shipping industry, where it is predicted that many jobs could be replaced by intelligent machines and systems.

Despite these concerns, maritime is not the only field which automation could seriously effect.

In fact, many other business areas have already changed massively as a result of technological advances like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Manufacturing

Those responsible for driving change in the maritime sector, especially with regard to cargo-handling operations onshore, could look to the example of other industrial sectors like manufacturing when thinking about how to implement automation successfully.

Even a quick comparison of the two areas reveals a number of similarities; materials need to be handled quickly and safely, a repetitive but important process which seems well-suited to the application of robotics.

Skilled professionals in the manufacturing business are likely to share some of the same concerns as their counterparts at ports and terminals, yet it is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency for manufacturers and factories.

The initial cost of automation is higher than paying workers to perform the same job, even if machines are able to outperform the human workforce in some capacities. As with process automation at ports and terminals, the key to success is finding out what should be automated.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is the combination of a vital human element working alongside robots which is driving efficiency
  • The key to success is finding out exactly what should be automated

Warehousing and Distribution

Closely connected to maritime trade and part of the logistics sector, warehousing is a crucial node in the wider supply chain and a hotbed for effective automation.

While the level of technological advancement across warehouses will of course depend on such factors as company size, location and the specific demands placed on any one distribution centre, leading players in the market are following the lead of other industries and expanding their use of robotics.

The question though – for the shipping industry – is how this transition to automated processes can be carried out purposefully.

In the case of XPO Logistics, developing technological solutions fit for purpose has been fundamental.

Collaborating with Singapore-based GreyOrange to deploy 5,000 intelligent robots throughout centres in Europe and North America, the autonomous machines perform a key function within “a modular goods-to-person system” that includes the efficient movement of mobile storage racks.

Key Takeaway:

  • Developing technological solutions fit for purpose
Self-Driving cars

While much of the conversation and early development around automation has concerned the increasing intelligence of landside operations, the impact of smart technologies is not only being felt on shore.

With multiple projects and start-ups currently exploring the possibility of autonomous vessels which can safely navigate from one location to another, even in the presence of other marine traffic, there are many technological hurdles which still need to be jumped.

The growing area of self-driving cars, a mainstream point of discussion in the media today, corresponds quite closely with the less reported interest in autonomous vessels; both have prompted questions regarding safety and security, especially as the digital systems which guide them have not proven entirely immune from attack.

In the case of self-driving vehicles though, standards are being created by the UK Government and other authorities to ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies. With several carriers already suffering from major hacks, including COSCO in 2018, establishing the security of pilotless ships should be a priority.

Key Takeaway:

  • Ensure you have resilient cybersecurity of digital technologies

Air Freight

In our modern age of next-day-delivery and thriving e-commerce, it is not surprising that air freight has gained a distinct advantage over ocean shipping. If you can move goods more quickly, you become a more attractive option for the customer.

While the very nature of transporting cargo via air separates this business area from maritime, leading companies in the air freight space are finding ways to boost their efficiency and competitiveness through automation.

Just as digital technologies have been developed to make commercial airlines run more smoothly, cargo planes are using electronic bills of lading and tracking solutions widely to exchange information and ensure that the movement of goods remains transparent and traceable.

Greater visibility ultimately begets greater efficiency, as being able to monitor your supply chain also allows one to plan effectively, especially in situations where delays or other barriers to free movement are experienced. When approaching automation, the maritime sector would be wise to keep this fundamental principle in mind.

Source: Port Technology