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Ports Embark on Digital Transformations

PTI Edition 106 •

Today’s ports find themselves at the centre of the digitalisation journey the global supply chain is currently on.

Industry members agree that the uptake of digital processes, automation and other efficiency driving technologies will certainly increase in the coming years because of the impact of COVID-19 on ports and terminals. This type of digitalisation enhances resiliency to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, according to a new report, we run the risk of creating a ‘two tiered’ system if some ports are left behind on the path towards digitalisation.

A divide has already appeared between ports who have digitalised, mainly in the northern hemisphere, and those who have not, typically those in the southern hemisphere, according to the report launched by the World Bank and International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) on 21 January.

COVID-19 has emphasised the risks ports face from technological inefficiencies, which are caused by lack of a high level of integration between devices, agents and activities at ports, the report authors suggest.

In this edition of the Journal, we explore some of the tools available to ports today to enhance their digital transformations including port call optimisation, digital twins and modern data analytics. Inform gives us part two of a three-part series on data, in which the authors discuss decisions behind democratisation and data. PTI also spoke to the Port of Marseille Fos, France, and the Port of Tanjung Pelapas, Malaysia, about their digital journeys.

Cause for Celebration

The International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2021, having been founded on 15 June 2011. IPCSA will be submitting a series of articles in PTI’s 2021 Journals, beginning with insight from its own members on digital transformations.

Today IPCSA has nearly 50 members, including Port Community System (PCS) and Cargo Community System operators, Single Window operators, and Seaport and Airport Authorities, drawn from all regions of the world.

The pandemic has certainly not held back IPCSA – rather the reverse. In the past year, IPCSA has launched its Network of Trusted Networks (NoTN) a secure port-to-port and cross-border data exchange solutions to provide predictability, visibility and certainty within the supply chain, and developed and piloted a Blockchain Bill of Lading.

The association was also one of the leading signatories to the International Maritime Organization’s ‘Call to Action’ to accelerate the pace of digitalisation to cope with a post COVID-19 new normal.

With maritime transport carrying over 90% of global merchandise trade, totalling some 11 billion tons of cargo per year, digitalising the sector would bring wide-ranging economic benefits and contribute to a stronger, more sustainable recovery, the World Bank and IAPH point out in their report.

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