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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

Blue Innovation – The box is now a “Smart Box”

The world of transport is no stranger to the continuous advances in tracking technologies. Since the invention of the global positioning systems and their implementation in the transport sector in the ‘90s, the need to monitor the placement of individual containers during a shipment has become more common. This was advantageous both to the clients sending the units as well as the shipping lines managing the processes. All parties involved could essentially reap the benefits of tracking shipments during deep and short sea shipping crossings.

In today’s climate, simply tracking the “global position” of the container isn’t enough. It now involves the incorporation of alternative functions designed to benefit the customers. The (now) outdated security seal of the containers has morphed from simply being an evidentiary device aimed to deter theft into an in-situ electronic system that detects vandalism activities. Moreover, just like mobile phones, the E-seal has outgrown its original goal. It has diversified so much that it can be considered appealing for its added value functionalities just as much as for its original purpose.

Some of these added extras include the internal and external control of temperature; a warning notification preceding an attempt to compromise the equipment; humidity control and monitoring inside the unit;  status updates and warnings during intermodal transfers or at physical access points; systems of impact detections on the unit; constant real-time monitoring and easy access through the internet or a mobile device; possibility to customize notifications in case of speeding or access points checks; history of the unit route; the possibility to open doors at defined access points; as well as enabling the opening of the unit when pre-set date and location parameters are met. All these added value functionalities have transformed the traditional container into a more intelligent, accessible and traceable unit that makes integrating data for the best logistic control of those involved in the movement of the merchandise possible.

In 2016 the TRAXENS company in charge of creating hi-tech devices for real-time monitoring has joined forces with CMA CGM to develop a device that complies with many of the aforementioned functions in order to generate Big Data for the different stages of the intermodal transport operations and to improve services for their customers. The device can provide updates on the location, temperature, humidity levels, vibrations, impacts, attempted theft, customs clearance status among others with the additional ability to remotely control functions.

Recently the MSC shipping company has joined the TRAXENS – CMA CGM alliance and has already begun the incorporation of 50,000 “Smart containers” in its operations to offer better visibility, control and monitoring of data for its customers. Moreover, since 2016, Maersk in conjunction with a US-based startup SensorTransport has worked on the development of a Remote Container Management System which offers similar services.

The way transport operations are carried out is constantly evolving, and with the help of the technological inventions, it shows no sign of slowing down. The Smart Containers are proof of that. They not only create significant added value to the customers, but they have (and will continue to do so) greatly contributed to the future of transport, logistics and blockchain through the contribution of Big Data. It will surely be fascinating to see what other solutions transport companies come up with in the coming decades to further modernise and perfect the intermodal supply chain.

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Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga, Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

How Smart Start-Ups Are Changing Maritime

The role of smart start-ups in driving the development of the maritime sector should not be understated, especially with regard to intelligent applications powered by the Internet of Things (IoT).

As highlighted by a recent competition to form the world’s first digital shipping company, launched by IoT specialist Loginno, there is a demand for companies who can bring new solutions to the table.

The Start-Up Space

Of the multitude of start-ups vying for opportunities within the space of IoT and Big Data, many are part of projects designed to leverage their potential for industry-shifting innovation.

These initiatives are often supported by major companies, and in February 2019 satellite communications provider Inmarsat revealed its partnership with two start-up programmes focused on IoT and the optimization of data.

The need for “fresh perspectives”, as argued by Inmarsat’s Senior Director of Digital Incubation Ali Grey, can be served best by new businesses currently breaking into the sector and shaking its very foundation.

IoT is widely viewed as a key pivot for the industry and target for those wishing to instigate serious change; ABI Research has predicted that IoT applications will be able to track over 500 million different assets by 2023, highlighting its potential.

Solutions for Ports

If IoT is tipped to make waves across the global economy, what kind of impact is this movement likely to have on ports, and what role will be played by start-up organizations?

Maciej Kranz of Cisco Systems describes digitization, and especially IoT, as “powerful enablers that forward-thinking port operators are using in order to improve efficiencies”: the benefits of implementing IoT applications to support cargo-handling processes are various.

One of the areas in which IoT can be leveraged most usefully is the management of port traffic, as the data collected from ships, containers and other vehicles entering and exiting ports can produce a holistic overview of cargo movement that provides a transparent and visible basis for optimization.

IoT is also a technology which complements other advanced systems used by port and terminal operators, functioning alongside automated equipment and TOS systems to allow more effective communication between machines and humans, or even machines and other machines.

Although major companies will often be enlisted to oversee the implementation of advanced technologies, which have to be integrated into port operations without causing serious disruption, start-ups will play an important part in delivering new solutions.

Speaking about the position occupied by start-ups at Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies 2018, former Managing Director of Port XL Mare Straetmans emphasized the necessity for collaboration between corporations and emerging businesses.

The Future of IoT Innovation

While start-ups are important components of the rapidly growing IoT ecosystem, development is also being driven by academic bodies and government groups exploring its applications for a broad range of industries, including container shipping.

Autonomous shipping, which is quickly transforming from a futuristic fantasy into a reality, is a good example of the technical platform provided by IoT solutions.

A joint-venture involving the Finnish Geospatial Research Institute and Aalto Universityis seeking to deploy IoT-powered sensor technology as means of ensuring the safe navigation of autonomous vessels, an innovation which is already being trialled.

However, educational bodies and public institutions are also choosing to collaborate with start-ups on groundbreaking projects like this, with solution provider Fleetrange contributing to this initiative by developing techniques for autonomous navigation.

It is evident then that the insight provided by these young, energetic and, above all else, innovative companies, as well as their ability to cut through the noise of the industry, is fostering an environment that is adapting to evolving demands and becoming increasingly modern. It seems likely that success will follow.

Source: Port Technology

The Dawning of 5G

As the digitization of industry and the global economy continues, a necessity for reliable, faster and more secure networks to connect businesses and the global supply chain continues to grow.

It is no surprise then that major companies and service providers, such as IBM and Vodafone, are forming joint-venture initiatives to test and develop a 5G ecosystem which, according to President of Mobile Networks with Nokia, Tommi Uitto, can generate new potential for automated operations and artificial intelligence.

While the worldwide implications of 5G technology are myriad, with leading companies Nokia and China Mobile seeking to create a more open and interoperable form of architecture for high-speed networks, its application to the ports and terminals sector could be game-changing.

As Dr. Yvo Saanen, Founder of simulation specialists TBA Group explains above, there is a need to connect a port’s assets, machines and people to systems, thereby increasing the safety and efficiency of cargo-handling operations.

The ability of 5G to optimize operations and “transmit data safely within milliseconds” is already being trialled as part of the Wireless for Verticals (WIVE) research project, one of many initiatives demonstrating the technology’s value as a catalyst for improved performance.

Faster and Smarter Networks

It would be easy to focus on the speed of 5G alone, especially when the development of this technology is likely to produce much shorter network response times for a wide variety of industries, including the logistics and port sectors.

However, as the University of Surrey’s world-leading 5G Innovation Centre underlines, the next evolution of connectivity is more significant than catering to the individual needs of everyday consumers: 5G is as much about “machine-to-machine” as it is “people-to-people”.

The flexibility of 5G networks, to “evolve, adapt and grow” is vital to the progress and implementation of this next technological phase which will allow applications to perform the “bandwidth-heavy” tasks demanded in the future.

Other benefits of 5G, as explored by key industry players like Nokia, include its prediction capabilities, security and reliability, positioning the technology as a crucial foundation for the development of machine learning tools.

Marc Rouanne, the ex-President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, once stated that “AI and machine learning will enable a myriad of new service opportunities”, in addition to reducing end user costs and minimizing the consumption of energy.

Revolutionizing Ports

Like a whole host of other industries seeking to ride the wave of digitization, businesses in the maritime sector, such as service providers, are hoping to leverage 5G to their collective benefit.

Kalmar, a provider of lifting solutions, is already trialling 5G applications and building a “technology road map” that will make the next stage of connectivity part of the “industrial standard of the future”.

Forecasting the revolutionary potential of 5G, Kalmar’s Director of Automation Research Pekka Yli-Paunu has predicted that “advances in connectivity give us the opportunity to develop the next generation of remote control that may utilise not only video, but audio and haptics as well”.

In addition to this, major ports are conducting their own 5G trials, testing its capability to drive advancement in other areas and provide a bedrock for smarter, more efficient operations.

The Port of Hamburg has already hailed the success of their project, with intermediate results indicating that “5G enables new types of mobile applications for the Hamburg Port Authority’s business”.

Looking ahead, Hamburg has isolated “5G network slicing” as an area that will have a particular impact on operations, laying the “foundation for new IoT applications” and “business models” that will boost the competitiveness of the entire port industry.

Unlocking the Potential

The cooperation of key players from multiple industrial and technological fields is currently forming an access point to 5G for businesses in all sectors.

Nokia has emphasized their work with “a lot of partners in the ports and terminals space, such as Konecranes, to enable the development of a connected ecosystem,” with the company “well positioned to understand the applications and savings made possible by mission-critical wireless technologies”.

According to Nokia’s statistics, ports and harbours make up a significant proportion of its vertical enterprise customers, all of which are currently deploying private LTE networks for their operational campus needs.

In the case of ports like HaminaKotka (located in Finland) the focus of “operational needs” once again shifts to connectivity, correlating to the intelligent machine Dr. Yvo Saanen imagines in his assessment of 5G.

Based on the sound situational awareness of container handling, warehouse logistics, and port security which machine-to-machine and machine-to-person connectivity offers, operations can be improved across multiple areas, from safety and efficiency to environmental performance and cost-effectiveness.

The extent of 5G’s potential impact on ports and terminals is still uncertain, but as operators and service providers search for smarter solutions, and ways to leverage automated technologies, the key word for the future is connectivity.

Source: Port Technology

Portugal Launches Huge Maritime Smart Tech Plan

The Portuguese government has announced an initiative aimed at accelerating the creation of smart tech start-ups in the shipping and ports sectors, according to a statement.

Named ‘Bluetech Accelerator – Ports & Shipping 4.0’, the programme is being led by the Minister of the Sea of Portugal and is designed to make the country a world leader in smart technology innovation.

The government has said it has already established a coalition of stakeholders, including shipping groups Portline Group and ETE Group, the ports of Sines and Leixoes and digital and robotics companies Inmarsat and Tekever to identify and finance start-ups in the smart technology and shipping industry.

The chosen start-ups will be announced in the last quarter of 2019, and the government has said it expects other stakeholders in the maritime and port sector to join the initiative.

Speaking about the initiative, Portuguese Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, said: “The Portuguese port system must be seen as the front line of the implementation of the blue economy based on the operational, energy and environmental innovation of maritime industries, promoting the emergence of new companies.

A recent Port Technology technical paper looked at smart investment in the maritime sector.

“This objective will be possible through the creation of a network of Port Tech Clusters, platforms for accelerating the technological and business innovation of sustainable blue port-based businesses.

“From here will be created new companies that will constitute and reinforce the Port Tech Cluster 4.0, innovation network that will be installed in the national port system focused on the application of industry 4.0 to the maritime-port sector”.

The Port of Sines, a key participant in the scheme, signed an agreement last week with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company to develop a new, next-gen container terminal, a story PTI covered.

Source: Port Technology

Automation forces Spain to introduce structural changes in logistics

The transport and logistics sectors are currently in the process of automation. In the coming decades it will undergo deeper transformations, which will test the reaction capacities of countries such as Spain. “We must be creative in changing our way of thinking. There is a lot of work to be done in the short term, in short electoral cycles, by survey, and there are structural changes that must be applied in the medium and long term, “says Inprous CEO and president of Pimec Logística, Ignasi Sayol.

For his part Miquel Serracanta, the founder of the consulting firm Solutions & Decisions, put the emphasis on how the increase in competition “has caused a very important fall in prices both in the trunk and in capillary transport”, so that the carriers that have increased in size have started to search for synergies and efficiencies in their supply chains in parallel. For this reason, he considers that it is necessary to prepare for changes such as the electric and autonomous vehicles, since “they will substantially modify our environment in the next ten years”.

Globally, transformations will involve changes in jobs and new trends will be developed that will improve the efficiency of deliveries. Although technological advances will be inevitable, they will occur gradually and will vary according to the region. These are some of the results published in the new report prepared by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU).

Evolution vs Revolution

Although the report foresees that the automation of global transport is more “evolutionary” than “revolutionary”, Sayol affirms that “the irruption of technology in logistics will radically change the way we do things”. Gradual changes are expected in transport patterns that will affect the different regions of the world. According to Serracanta, autonomous vehicles “will not arrive for another five or ten years and will do so progressively, coexisting therefore, with difficulties, with vehicles driven by humans.”

The partner founder of Solutions & Decisions foresees that automation will make roads safer and that fewer accidents and traffic jams will occur, “with which the reliability of compliance with deliveries will increase”.

Sayol points out that logistics 4.0 will be an opportunity for developing countries, “because they can implement it without the mortgages that exist in developed countries.”

“Automation will probably reduce the differences between developed and developing countries in the medium and long term, once the latter can be added to the technology train,” says Serracanta. However, it considers that in the short term it is possible to increase them, especially in terms of road and rail transport: “Those who are in the process of development may not be able to start this road yet due to previous pending issues, as indispensable basic infrastructures”.
Worldwide, it is expected that transportation routes will also change if situations such as a hypothetical stagnation of China or the growth of Mexico are consolidated. If confirmed these trends, directly affect the GDP of the countries. However, this forecast does not apply to long-distance maritime transport, which will continue to be the main means in terms of scale and volume of goods transported. In contrast, a reduction in road transport is expected both in the EU and in the countries of Southeast Asia, as well as growth in the maritime sector, because “it is still in an early stage of transformation,” according to the study.
The Impact of Automation on employment
Automation will impact the transport sector through the destruction, displacement and creation of jobs. Workers will be affected differently according to their level of skill and preparation, with the least educated being the most affected. This will require the retraining of professionals such as cargo agents and crane operators so that they can work complementarily with this technology, notes the report of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the World Maritime University (WMU). However, despite the high levels of automation, human resources will still be necessary, especially in cases where people provide additional value.
“The challenge will be twofold, for the companies that have them on staff and for the worker himself, who must improve his own employability with additional training if he does not want to lose possibilities in his current and future position,” says Serracanta. “The repetitive tasks and added low value are the first at risk of being replaced by robots, and workers who today are the first to be recycled.” In fact, today automated metro lines are already operating, such as the one that connects the city of Barcelona with its airport, or the one that connects the two passenger terminals of the Frankfurt airport in Germany.
Logistics 4.0
In addition to the automation of vehicles, infrastructures and processes, the new logistics 4.0 will allow technologies such as Big Data or artificial intelligence to be progressively applied to know what the client wants, anticipate demand and position stocks at the suitable point. “It sounds like science fiction, but it’s already a reality,” says Sayol.
The CEO of Inprous also includes the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain in this group, which “will enable the creation of dis-intermediated and efficient marketplaces that allow for optimisation and secures the available transport resources”. Finally, “more complex technologies to apply in reality” will exist, including platooning. “Here the time horizon of implementation is more difficult to get right, as it is subject to the legislation of each country and investments in infrastructure that inevitably must be made,” he explains.
According to Serracanta, this automation and logistics 4.0 will also allow for the “reduction of consumption and fuelling of large trucks, because they are more efficient than humans, with which there will be less CO2 emissions and the environment will appreciate it”. Thus, an evolution is foreseen in the logistics transport sector that will bring economic benefits and that will entail new regulations, a greater technological preparation and the development of new skills and dynamics in the labor market.
Source: El Mercantil

Terminal Drones: Game-Changing or Hot Air?

Drone technology could be vitally important to the evolution of smart ports and terminals, but they also present a number of challenges in terms of safety and security.

This insight delves into their utility within the port and terminal sector, and questions how valid they are in such an arena.

According to EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc, “…drones are a key part of the future of aviation and will become part of our daily lives”, yet for some ports and terminals, drones are already a part of daily operations.

Drones in Ports and Terminals:

After testing their ability in filming site operations, monitoring traffic flows and observing unsafe behaviour, APM Terminals introduced the technology at its facilities in San Antonio, Texas and Santiago, Chile.

They are not the only ones to make this leap.

Today, drones are in operation across multiple ports, terminals and maritime facilities around the world; some have been put to use surveying Israel’s new Gulf Port in Haifa, while others have been tested at the Port of Singapore as a method of delivering small loads.

While the drones in the aforementioned ports have been used for surveying and observation, Abu Dhabi Ports’ drone devices have formed the basis of its surveillance and security measures at the Khalifa Port and KIZAD facilities, enabling the company to “instantly check even difficult to access locations from various perspectives, without putting any employees in danger.”

However, it should be noted that port operators are not the only maritime players testing and implementing drones for a variety of purposes.

Drones as Cargo Movers:

Wilhelmsen, a provider of smart shipping solutions, is currently developing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and predicts that drone deliveries could reduce shore-to-ship costs by 90%.

According to Marius Johansen, Commercial Vice President at Wilhelmsen, the rapid of progress of drone technology is also driving the development of “key technological solutions such as ship localization and precision landing, payload release systems, and light and reliable 4G/LTE communication.”

Could the introduction of drones to the maritime sector therefore be considered a catalyst for change?

In April 2018, logistics provider GEODIS teamed up with DELTA DRONE to develop “a completely automated solution for inventory management using unmanned drones”, the very first of its kind.

The same quadcopter drones implemented by Abu Dhabi Ports were used again by these two companies, who were able to combine the surveillance capabilities of drones with geo-location technology, allowing the unmanned devices to navigate a warehouse and perform administrative tasks.

The development of drones is also being supported by massive companies like Allianz, which has encouraged shippers to use the technology more effectively for a range of monitoring purposes.

According to maritime surveyors, drones are able to assess vessel damage, undertake search and rescue operations and assess environmental pollution.

On the other hand, Allianz has also stressed “the importance of striking the correct balance between human interaction and technological enterprise to prevent standards falling.

Standards:

Key “standards” that need to be considered, when deciding how to implement drones within ports and terminals, are safety and security.

With these concerns in mind, could the emerging technology be a double-edged sword for the maritime sector?

The Port of Rotterdam has highlighted the “less sympathetic ends” to which drones could be used, including “reconnaissance for criminal activities” and “espionage”; as well as ensuring the security of ports, the technology also poses a potential threat.

It is for this reason that ports like Rotterdam have imposed strict rules and regulations on the use of drones, prohibiting private operators from flying over port areas without a special permit or permission.

Standardization was a key topic of discussion at this year’s Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies Conference.

For now, maritime authorities can establish restrictions to protect the integrity of their operations.

However, as drone technology continues to advance, will major players be able to maintain the same levels of security?

As with all technological developments across the industry, the future remains uncertain.

Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism.

Future Outlook:

In March 2018, design consultants PriestmanGoode revealed their vision for the future of drones, the technology’s capacity to innovate change and create revolutionary solutions set to extend beyond ports and terminals.

The Dragonfly delivery concept imagines a world in which cities and commercial centres can be relieved of congestion by drones, the devices passing between buildings as they proceed towards their destination.

While this kind of futuristic landscape might seem a lifetime away, the rapid progress of drone devices is ready to change the way global trade operates, including the operations of increasingly automated ports and terminals.

The challenge now, for those key maritime players, is keeping pace with technological developments, ensuring that safety measures are sophisticated and prepared for the risks presented by such a flexible technology.

Source: Port Technology

Port Digitalisation

Three Considerations for Smart Port Collaboration

Ports that want to become ‘smart’ need to use technologies that automatically adapt to changing situations.

However, for that to happen, there has to be a change in attitude when it comes to collaboration, which is dependent on key players — who may be in competition with one another — agreeing on methods of creating more visibility throughout the supply chain.

Here are three arguments from authors of technical papers in the Edition 78 of the Port Technology Journal that show how and why the attitude to such practices may be changing.

1# Digital Tools for Next Generation Workers: Adam Yaron, CEO, FAST Applications

The next generation of people entering the profession have the expertise to use the latest online platforms and tools, which focus on process and managing costs and look to automate and streamline processes, build intermodal relationships, improve customer satisfaction, and maximize opportunities for cost savings.

A digital freight forwarder must offer a range of digital services to the 21st-century customers.

The next step is to create a social supply chain management where strong alliances can be created by networking and sharing data with freight partners online (agents, customers, suppliers, carriers, etc.), which in turn creates a stronger bond and connection to compete as a group.

2# Port Community Connectivity: Chris Collins, Chief Operating Officer, Containerchain

Major port centres including Antwerp, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Rotterdam, Singapore and others, plus shipping line and global terminal operators looking to get more embedded in the supply chain ‘beyond the gate’, are embarking on digital initiatives to capture, harvest, pool and share more data in more collaborative, real-time ways, with maritime and landside logistics stakeholders.

Singapore has recently provided two significant examples of this strategic direction under its National Trade Platform – with plans to connect over 10,000 of its existing registered users to a single independent Transport Integrated Platform (TRIP) that has already connected a large majority of the landside containerized supply chain, and in doing so, delivered significant operational and economic benefits to its stakeholders.

Balancing out platform competition and collaboration, international and localized solutions, closed and open offerings and free market choice against regulatory oversight is a very difficult challenge, but not one that can be avoided if we all want to reap the benefits of digital collaboration.

3# Working as One: Derek Kober, VP Marketing, Navis

The first step to tackle the fundamental lack of visibility in the industry and achieve joint success among key stakeholders is the broader sharing of critical shipment information across the supply chain.

In Navis’ report, surveyed executives echoed this sentiment, reporting the following:

• Agree on the need for stakeholders to operate with a common set of data (97% important; 85% very important)

• Believe the adoption of new technologies is crucial to enabling real-time collaboration (98% important; over 50% very important)

• Believe they will see substantial improvement in operational performance once real-time collaboration is achieved (one-third predict gains over 75%; over half expect gains of at least 50%)

Both voice and data communications are vital to the future of smart port operations.

Automation, collaboration and safety at ports and terminals are all dependent on digital, connected systems that allow mission-critical practices.

Source: Port Technology

blockchain

Blockchain potential in Transport and Logistics

Blockchain could become very useful in eliminating intermediaries in the supply chain and in improving collaboration with traffic authorities in the management of incidents and crises.

Blockchain can provide solutions today and in the near future in different areas, though in the case of transport it still has long way to go to become a useful technology.

This has been highlighted during the information day organised by the Center for Transport Studies in the Western Mediterranean, Cetmo, which seeks to deepen new practical applications in transport and logistics.

In the case of ports, this technology can make a big difference if the bill of lading is digitised, which would bring decentralisation, security and immutability and would significantly reduce the costs and risks in port operations.

In terms of electric vehicles, it can play a relevant role in both mobility and energy through smart contracts, which make management of last mile routes possible.

The application of this technology in the energy field is linked to the creation of solar communities that take advantage of the sun’s energy to complement their electricity consumption by creating community micro-networks. Taking advantage of this surplus energy to recharge electric vehicles, a really renewable source of energy for mobility would be created.

Open and decentralised mobility

In the transport sector, there are both small companies trying to gain market share and companies with a monopoly vocation. In this context, blockchain can contribute to the creation of an open, decentralised, multimodal and multi-provider mobility market.

Motorways, as well as roads in general, are undergoing a necessary process of digitisation that will help them address traffic growth, innovation in road technology and smart mobility.

Blockchain could be useful when eliminating intermediaries in the supply chain or for monitoring works, and to improve collaboration with traffic authorities in the management of incidents and crises. Finally, it will open the door to new payment systems that could be more accurate, applying discounts according to the weather or the state of the roads.

In the more immediate present, the processes have begun to have an impact in areas such as freight transport and logistics, thanks to the reduction of procedures, while in passenger transport, they do not cause prominent disruptions.

Source: Cadena de Suministro

The value of openness in transport data

The value of openness is best demonstrated by arguably the biggest technological revolution of modern times – the internet. Had the early technical pioneers at ARPANET and CERN who developed the technical protocols that make the internet – and the Worldwide Web that it underpins – kept them proprietary, the internet as we know it would not exist. Giles Bailey, CEO & Director of International Relations at TravelSpirit, James Gleave, Founder and Director of Transport Futures, and Beate Kubitz, COO of TravelSpirit, explain why transport companies now need to do the same, or risk cutting off channels to potentially industry-changing innovation.

Imagine that your access to the vast services and content of the internet was entirely dependent on which browser you used, and that each one required you to hand over your personal and financial information. This might mean that you could only access your email through Firefox, your bank through Chrome, Facebook and Twitter through Safari, etc. Following a link to an outside site would require you to download and register a new browser – one that, more often than not, does not work in most geographic locations. Under these conditions, whole swathes of the open internet as we know it would be unavailable, unfindable and unusable.

This is the sort of ‘closed future’ that the TravelSpirit Foundation seeks to combat by championing a vision for MaaS that is universal and accessible to all people, regardless of their location or destination.

We are advocating an ‘Open Internet of Mobility’, a framework that does not seek to define the solution to be used but, like the internet, defines a common ruleset and governance structure to challenge the drift into the closed ecosystems that we have today. This way, regardless of the technologies deployed – such as blockchain and the Internet of Things – the ecosystem is able to support interoperability, be trustworthy for its participants, and reduce costs and network latency for providers.

Data is critical

Data is increasingly driving innovation in transport, including MaaS. When paper tickets were purchased, operators could collect data showing revenue and approximate usage, but this only represented an approximate picture of network travel.

This scenario is now changing rapidly, with the initiative taken by non-transport actors to take big data feeds and analyse them. On the roads, for example, a number of organisations take data and provide precise network status overviews. For instance, Google is able to determine traffic speed and density from mobile phone positions along routes. In dense urban areas, transport planners such as CityMapper have an overview of transport generated by combining their own user data (collected when people request and navigate public transport routes) with transport operator service feeds to gain city-wide pictures of capacity and demand.

Now, a variety of innovative mobility operators are using big data to provide services. They often use the extraordinarily detailed location data available from mobile phone operating systems in conjunction with their customer requests, to provide services and also predict overall demand and shape services over the longer term. For instance, location data in hailing an Uber is essential to the service provision for both customer and driver – plus map and traffic data enables price and journey length prediction and navigation. Whilst Uber has probably the highest profile – and the most controversy regarding the amount of data it collects on customers – it is not the only innovator that depends on data and data analysis in order to provide a service. From on-demand bus services to bike-share schemes, user data is combined with usage data, mapping and traffic tools to provide and shape services. The details of terms and conditions and privacy policies frame how these datasets are limited to service offerings, or potentially enabled for marketing and wider commercial partnerships.

The emergence of these new transport operators, as well as wider trends in services across society, makes the development of more personalised services through apps and improved data feeds inevitable.

It’s about collaboration

Many of these new technologies and business models are clearly already in place. An example of this is the ‘Contactless Transit Framework’ from the UK Cards Association, which contains three models for enabling the development of contactless payment systems on public transport networks across the UK. The system is being adopted by all major public transport operators by 2025.

However, with few exceptions, no culture of collaboration currently exists to allow MaaS and other new mobility services to be delivered systemically. The message from many transport operators (private and public) to customers is that the best value can be gained from travelling primarily on their services and buying from them directly. Few inform customers about alternative service options provided by other operators and modes, or even if a customer has made the best decision by purchasing from them directly. Furthermore, most operators make no attempt to link a range of services to provide the best overall journey for the traveller. For example, research by the Office of Rail and Road in 2015 identified that one in five rail customers purchased the wrong ticket due to a lack of information on the tickets available for their journey.

Open data is showing the way

Open data has already shown that there is potentially significant public and private benefit for mobility providers. The demand for transport data is most ably demonstrated by transport datasets being the top four most downloaded datasets from the UK Government’s data website since it began service in 2012. The UK is known for its innovation and excellence in openness, with the ‘Open Data Barometer’ ranking the UK’s public transport data as among the most open in the world.

Within major cities across the UK, particularly those with smart city capabilities or aspirations, excellent work has been undertaken to make publicly-owned transport data, such as car park locations, open as standard. However, practice is far from uniform or sufficiently thorough, with many local authorities not publishing any transport data at all. Local authorities should be accelerating the publication of transport datasets.

The delivery of transport apps, powered by open data provided by Transport for London, has also demonstrated significant impacts of open data. Doing so leads to a virtuous circle of benefits, which Deloitte has estimated to be around £130 million per annum through wider job creation, saved journey time, and savings for Transport for London itself. After all, why develop a bespoke solution when open source can help you do it?

Read the full article on the Intelligent Transport website.