2038: Future Visions

Brought to you by INFORM in partnership with Port Technology. Visit the original article here!

In this interview in our exclusive series in partnership with Port Technology, INFORM’s Matthew Wittemeier spent some time with Alan Peterson, Industrial Segment Leader / Crane Systems at TMEIC Americas Corp. (TMEIC) – recently retired, to explore what the future, near and far, might hold for the industry. Alan offered some illuminating insights about standardistion, the problem of limited port space, and the inevitable march of progress.

Today

MW: We’re going to get started. We learned at the beginning of 2038 that the port of Reykjavik is a fully automated terminal with limited onsite personnel. Are we on track to achieve this outcome, or is it a remote possibility at best?

AP: 2038 is really not very far down the road. I think the only way a small place like Reykjavik could have an automated terminal at this level of accomplishment is for the industry to start standardizing products and interfaces from one vendor to the next. I also think that’s a very difficult thing to accomplish, at least in the next 30 to 40 years, mainly because vendors like me and my competition seek to get a leg up on our competition. Part of the problem is that when we innovate, we don’t want to share our hard work with somebody else. So in order to standardise an automated terminal package, we’ll have to have standard platforms across the industry that everyone can feed into. I don’t see this happening if we leave it to the vendors. I think only when customers or end-users decide they’ve had enough of customisation might they drive standardisation across the industry.

And I think that’s a harder conversation than we know, given that we are in an industry that can’t agree on a standard twist lock. So, is it possible? Yes. Is it the outcome we will have at some point? Yes. By 2038? I don’t know. That seems kind of aggressive to me.

MW: You talked about the terminal operators needing to take that first step. Are any terminal operators today making moves in that direction?

AP: There are some that make noise about it, but it has to be more than just a single operator. Let me give you two examples. APM Terminals, of course, as huge as they are in the terminal operating world, has a fairly standard platform they like to purchase, but they’re only one operator out of many. If you look at PSA out of Singapore, they’re a pretty good-sized terminal operator. They have a standard package they want to buy, but the two are not the same. I read the specs, and they just aren’t the same.

So in order for them to drive standardisation from TMEIC, ABB, Siemens, or ZPMC, they have to agree as customers on what they want, and it’s mostly boiling down to the interfaces. How do devices talk to each other? How do systems work together at a port? Could you take a Siemens package away and stick a TMEIC package in for a customer that has a standardised, across-the-board package? Yeah, that might be possible, but today it is not.

Sundahofn port container terminal, Port of Reykjavik

MW: With regard to systems talking to each other, the industry has certainly made a lot of progress in the last five years with initiatives like TIC 4.0 on the terminal side and the DCSA on the shipping side. It seems a lot of standard initiatives are gaining traction. Are these steps in the right direction, or is it too little, too late?

AP: You have to look at automation from a different perspective than just the ports and terminals industry. If you look at it from where the automotive industry or the bottling and packaging industry sits, they’ve had standard interfaces for everything for the last 30 years. The difference is they’re moving a bottle that doesn’t weigh much down an assembly line that’s rolling at high speed. Or if they’re making cars and they’re rolling off the assembly line at one per minute, their needs are very different. I’ve always said that automation in our industry is difficult because we’re moving 40-ton boxes with massive pieces of machinery. It’s not the same ball game. But yes, at some point, we will reach the commonality of interfaces that you see in the automotive world, the packaging world, or any other number of industries that are out there.

I’ve always said that automation in our industry is difficult because we’re moving 40-ton boxes with massive pieces of machinery.

I have the advantage of having worked in those industries earlier in my career, and I understand where they live. If you’re Ford Motor Company and you’re ripping out a line and putting a new line in to build a different car next year, it’s a plug-and-play world, quite literally.

Year: 2025

MW: Many innovative technologies are discussed in 2038: A Smart Port Story, with the mid-2020s seeing a significant growth period for these ideas to take hold. What technologies today, if any, do you see as being innovative and positioned to cause disruption in the maritime industry as we enter 2022?

AP: It’s a huge question. I think technologies are driven by need or demand from an end-user. There’s really no reason to have a technology if nobody’s going to buy it. So what’s the big problem? In my mind, the first big problem is space in the port industry. There’s only so much land that ports can have. There’s no new land being made unless you reclaim it from the sea, and that’s entirely too expensive. So there’s only one option, and that’s to densify, which has already driven a fair amount of automation. The next step, though, is going vertical. And that’s what we’re seeing happen in Dubai with DP World and BoxBay. I believe if there’s one thing on the horizon that could be a game-changer, it’s this BoxBay concept. Not necessarily the exact thing they’re building, but something similar that allows you to go vertical and put more boxes on the same piece of ground.

The second is to take boxes off the waterfront and put them somewhere else. If you don’t have any land, and you haven’t or can’t go up, what do you do? The question of on-dock rail becomes the big answer. I think on-dock rail and intermodal terminals are the answer to much of this problem. We’re already seeing a lot of people make moves both in North America and in Europe, where they’re beginning to take rail seriously, moving boxes from the waterfront to an inland terminal. By doing so, you relieve congestion at the waterfront and begin working boxes in a place that is easy to work because you can take a piece of unused land and turn it into a terminal fairly easily. It’s not congested, it’s not too busy. Simply put, you’re not stepping on each other’s toes to get your job done.

I believe if there’s one thing on the horizon that could be a game-changer, it’s this BoxBay concept. Not necessarily the exact thing they’re building, but something similar that allows you to go vertical and put more boxes on the same piece of ground.

Finally, more automation. I think we’re going to see more and more customers move toward an automated terminal platform at some level. I don’t think we’ll see total automation like some of our Chinese friends are doing, but there will be some level of semi-automated terminal all over the place.

MW: Very interesting. I want to explore the idea of moving boxes, firstly, up. In our last 2038: Future Visions interview, we sat down with Carla Grifo from BoxBay, and we learned quite a few interesting things. Obviously, it’s a game-changer for terminals to implement a solution of that nature, but BoxBay has been very clear that it’s not necessarily a solution that fits every terminal around the world. So then, if we logically move on to intermodal, what we’re seeing in the US market right now with the congestion in ports and maritime facilities is that the congestion is being matched when those boxes move inland. There’s still a lack of drayage drivers to get the boxes out of the inland facility. So is it really a solution, or is it just moving the problem somewhere else?

BOXBAY vertical installation

AP: I think it’s a little of both. The biggest challenge is in California. I hate to say it, but the problem is being driven by government intervention. In California, they decided some years ago to do away with all the older diesel engines and trucks. So really, you can’t drive a truck in California, a big truck, unless it has a diesel engine less than three years old. What is happening with drayage drivers is that everybody who owned a truck had to buy a new one or get out of the business. What is happening is they take boxes from the port of L.A. and Long Beach to the border with Nevada. They drop them on the ground, and then somebody with a truck that is not allowed in California comes, picks it up, and takes it somewhere else. So I think that’s going to work itself out over time.

Ports like Savannah or London Gateway have distribution centers popping up right behind the terminal. We’re not seeing that around the intermodal sites that are now 300 miles inland, but I think it will come.

I think the congestion thing will change over the next couple of years. The real trend, though, for drayage has more beef in it than that. The reality is you can move an awful lot of boxes inland on a train as long as you have the systems in place to manage them at the port and the intermodal terminal capable of then disseminating the boxes when they arrive. We’re not seeing it yet, although I think it’ll be there. Ports like Savannah or London Gateway have distribution centers popping up right behind the terminal. We’re not seeing that around the intermodal sites that are now 300 miles inland, but I think it will come.

Year: 2030

MW: This is also the model that Australia is adopting as well with their new inland rail, where you see major distribution and supply chain hubs popping up around the intermodal facilities. The impact of technology is used as a frame in 2038: A Smart Port Story to look at many broader social, economic, environmental, and business trends. What trends do you think will shape the future?

AP: That’s a great question. It’s a tough question for me because I’m not a futurist. I have proven to myself over and over again that I don’t have a crystal ball. With that said, I’ll give you a few predictions. The transportation fleet, of whatever kind you want, is going to change. I think you’re going to see autonomous vehicles on the sea. Ships that now carry a crew of 12 or 15 to manage 22,000 boxes will have a crew of three that does nothing more than manage the mechanical systems. I think we’ll see autonomous vehicles on land in big truck fleets. In another 10 years, autonomous vehicles will be everywhere we look.

Port of Oslo uses autonomous drone to clean Fjord
Port of Oslo using autonomous machinery to clean its harbour

The second thing is our fuel sources will continue to evolve to be less stressful for the environment. However, I don’t think in my lifetime or yours, we’re going to see the elimination of fossil fuels. There’s just no other good alternative yet to take an airplane off the ground or to heat the homes of 8 billion people around the world. But something we don’t know about today is going to change that. Whether it’s fission or something else from a technology standpoint, it’s going to happen. When we think about governments that mandate change, they can only do so much. And that’s where I think industry and consumers are going to make the change happen, not governments. That’s just my personal view.

Third, I think a new race of beings is going to show up at some point. Not aliens, but rather machines that are artificially intelligent and can think on their own. Then, they’re going to do all the things we want them to do, and they’ll provide work and services as we need them. But I think we’re going to find another sentient race of things running around this planet in another 40 to 50 years.

MW: I was just going to ask if you care to put a time frame to that, and you already have.

AP: I think it’s coming quicker than we know. Again, I’m not a futurist, but I tend to read a lot of stuff. There are many things that are happening quickly in that world; it’s amazing.

MW: Definitely. That’s one of the key points we aimed to point out in 2038: A Smart Port Story that these things are coming much quicker than we probably think, and we need to be thinking about and discussing them today. What are the implications? What do you think would be the implications if a new sentient being came into existence, one that’s computerized and does a large portion of the work that we’re doing? The impact has to be massive on us, correct?

AP: Over time, I think so. Again, in my lifetime and yours, I don’t think we’ll see that, but maybe our kids will see it to some degree, and their kids will definitely be living with all kinds of sentient machines that are doing work in our world. Then, of course, all the doomsday stuff comes in, right? Do we believe the Terminator?

Year: 2035

MW: That’s an interesting segue into the next question, which relates to the fact that maritime doesn’t exist in a bubble. As automation disrupts our industry, much like the anti-techs in 2038, unions around the world are pushing back against automation. As an industry, how should we be addressing the impacts of automation on human workers in our companies and in the companies we serve?

AP: As much as I love thinking about the future, I’m also a big fan when it comes to history – I love history. To give you some perspective, in 1857, New Bedford, Connecticut was the richest per capita city on the planet because of whaling. Their 300-plus vessels went all over the world, harvesting whales to feed the whale oil industry, which was necessary because you had a lamp in your house for light, and that was better with whale oil than it was with a candle. Twenty years later, that industry was gone. Thousands of people were put out of work, and hundreds of companies evaporated because petroleum was discovered and took over. The same thing happened when we went from horses to automobiles or, to the point of our industry, when we went from slings, boxes, and burlap bags to containers. That was only 66 years ago.

The natural consequence of innovation is a shift in what people have to do to make their way in the world.

The natural consequence of innovation is a shift in what people have to do to make their way in the world.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Change is never easy, but what can our industry do? I don’t know that it’s our industry’s place to determine how society deals with change. I think we can mitigate some of that because the unions are going to push back. We’re not going to go fully automated. We’re going to be easing into these things. As I said a moment ago, I think you’re going to see a lot of semi-automated terminals come up before full automation takes over. And I think a big reason for that is our friends in the unions are pushing hard against it. We cannot go as quickly as we would like to go, “we” being the terminal operators. It’s just the way it is.

MW: It’s a very interesting perspective that it isn’t necessarily the industry’s challenge to solve. That would imply to me that it’s the people’s challenge to solve, and people are represented by their government. But we talked earlier about how when government becomes involved, they don’t necessarily make wise decisions that benefit the industry. So, should we be taking a stronger advocacy role and trying to intelligently influence the government’s final decisions, or should we just sit back and watch it happen?

AP: I think that’s a great question. Again, it comes down to when consensus is reached among groups of people, whether those groups are industrial companies like mine or groups that get represented in government. I think it’s very difficult for the industry to do that unless a broad segment of the industry gets involved. I still think it boils down to the individual taking responsibility for themselves. I hate to say that, but if you look back at 1857 in New Bedford, Connecticut, at some point, all those whalers had to go out and find a different job, and they had to do it pretty quickly. That industry collapsed virtually overnight. They got it done. All those beautiful homes in New Bedford are still there, but the millionaires are not living in them anymore.

Year: 2038

MW: We’ve reached the year 2038 in our interview. Sadly, that means we must draw to a close in a minute or so. What’s the one thing that our readers should take away from this interview?

AP: I think there are three things. First, change is hard. No matter what it is, change is always hard, whether it’s thousands of people losing their jobs because petroleum killed the whaling industry or because automation takes over in our industry. We must accept that life is not always easy; change is hard.

Second, progress is going to happen regardless. As long as people want more, want better, and are willing to pay for it, progress continues.

The last part of that relates to what we spoke about a minute ago, which is the third thing: we either adapt or get left behind. That’s pretty simple, but that’s where my thoughts lie.

MW: Alan, thank you so much for joining us.

AP: My pleasure Matthew.


Who is Alan Peterson?

Alan has been involved in technical sales since 1980, joining first Westinghouse and then GE in 1989. Initially responsible for supporting heavy industry, container ports, and shipbuilding in Virginia, USA, Alan transitioned to TMEIC Americas in 2006 and has since been working full time in the marine container terminal marketplace. Container Terminal automation and advanced lifting equipment technologies are his specialties.

He is currently acting as Business Segment Leader for the Crane Systems Business Group within TMEIC Americas Corporation. His responsibilities include managing a global sales force, directing the commercial operations of the Group, and helping to shape the strategic direction of the business. TMEIC is Toshiba Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Corporation based in Tokyo, Japan. The Crane Systems Business Group is based in Roanoke, Virginia, USA.

What is 2038: Future Visions?

2038: Future Visions is a series of interviews from leading maritime logistics professionals who share what they expect our industry to look like in the year 2038. It is brought to you in partnership with Port Technology. 2038: Future Visions builds on the award-winning book 2038: A Smart Port Story, published by INFORM in 2019.

What is 2038: A Smart Port Story?

2038: A Smart Port Story explores the terminal of the future and the intricacies of technology, and its impact on both the port industry and society. Join Douglas as he unravels the mystery around an incident at the Port of Reykjavik that sees an AGV collide with a human, leaving both of their lives hanging perilously in the balance.

Haven’t read 2038: A Smart Port Story yet? Get started with Part 1 today!

More from the World of 2038 – The Athena Interviews

The Athena Interviews is a series run in 2019 in which INFORM’s Matthew Wittemeier interviewed the main AI character from 2038: A Smart Port Story, Athena, about a broad range of topics surrounding AI. In an interactive video format, readers/viewers are introduced to Athena as together they explore thought-provoking questions about the future of logistics, technology, and AI. Missed the beginning of The Athena Interviews? You can pick it up from the start at PTI Exclusive: Athena Q&A Part 1.

Vessel schedule reliability creeps upward

Global schedule reliability continues to slowly creep upwards, recording a marginal month-to-month improvement for March 2022.

Reliability figures in March 2022 reached 35.9 per cent, the highest 2022 reliability levels so far, according to analysis firm Sea-Intelligence.

The average delay for late vessel arrivals decreased once again, this time by -0.32 days to 7.26 days in March 2022.

Despite the improvement, the average delay figure has now been over 7 days since August 2021 and continues to be the highest across each month when compared historically. March 2022 still scores slightly below the 2021 level.

Disruptive global events including COVID-19 lockdowns in China has led to fluctuations in container supply and demand, and caused bottlenecks in supply chains globally.

© Sea-Intelligence

Consequently, ports and inland networks are facing severe capacity restrains with erratic levels of containers flowing in and out of its facilities, leading to greater numbers of blank sailings and late arrivals from container carriers.

With higher demand of containerised goods driven by the pandemic and restrictions on supply and vessel booking availability, carriers have reported earth-shattering levels of income. Last week Ocean Network Express reported revenues of over $30 billion in its 2021 financial year.

With schedule reliability of 50.3 per cent, Maersk was the only carrier with a score of over 50 per cent, followed by Hamburg Süd with 45.9 per cent.

There were seven carriers with schedule reliability of 30 per cent to 40 per cent and five with schedule reliability of 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

Wan Hai had the lowest schedule reliability in March 2022 of 22.6 per cent.

On a year-to-year basis, only three of the top-14 carriers recorded an improvement in schedule reliability in March 2022 – with the largest improvement of just 1.6 percentage points.

Port Antwerp-Bruges launched as European ports face ‘tsunami’ of East Asia container flood

port of antwerp europa terminal

The ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge have completed their long-awaited merger – as bosses predict a “tsunami” of containers coming into the ports.

At the extraordinary general meeting of 22 April 2022, the two European cities signed the shareholders’ agreement of the unified port company to become Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

In February 2021, the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges announced the launch of the merger process for their respective ports.

As a leading container port by tonnage – with 159 million tons/year – Port of Antwerp-Bruges said it will meet container capacity due to global growth and recent developments in the international logistics chain.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges will capitalise on the strengths of both port locations and focus its strategy on containers, breakbulk, RoRo traffic and chemicals.

Bosses believe Antwerp-Bruges will play a crucial role in major freight flows and reinforce its position as one of the main gateways to Europe. The unified port has also become Europe’s largest export port – with 147 million tons/year.

“We’re faced with global disruptions: entire logistics chain being shaken up,” commented Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Hundreds of ships are waiting outside of Shanghai that will flood like a tsunami to [Europe] and the United States.”

De Ridder added that the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is working on a ‘Container Plan 2022-2030’ to bolster capacity from 15 million TEU to 22 million TEU annually.

Elsewhere, Port of Antwerp-Bruges said it will invest strategic infrastructure including the Europa Terminal in Antwerp, as well as the New Lock and the Maritime Logistics Zone in Zeebrugge.

“[Congestion] is a huge problem,” De Ridder continued. “In Antwerp we are at maximum capacity.”

COVID-19 lockdowns in China and elsewhere have led to uncertainty throughout the supply chain: combined with a lack of capacity in container availability, container analysts Drewry has estimated that carrier profits will soar to $300 billion in 2022 as freight rates continue to rise.

The US will also bear the brunt of vessel and container backlogs making their way over from East Asia. Earlier in April PTI reported that vessel queues outside of Los Angeles and Long Beach are climbing once again.

2023 the new normality aim as industry ‘curveballs’ continue

Forecasts of any return to normality in port and shipping congestion has been pushed back to 2023 as external disruptions hamstring the market.

Ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns in China in port mega-hubs such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, and the geopolitical fallout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are the latest challenges facing container flows, commented Lars Jensen, container expert.

“We are at one of the worst points [of congestion], and it’s going to take a long time to dig us out of this,” Jensen told a Hapag-Lloyd roundtable on 31 March.

A lack of container and vessel availability driven by consumer spending changes from the pandemic means supply chains suffer greater shocks when ‘Black Swan’ events occur.

“We have no container buffer capacity in the system: in the old days, a truck strike in Spain would not be a problem [to the industry]. Now, we have no buffer capacity in the system. The optimistic view is [congestion clearance] will take us at least until the end of the year with the way things are going,” Jensen said.

Jensen added that vessel availability is still a prime issue: in February, some 11.6 per cent of the global fleet of vessels were unavailable.

The challenge was even greater in January, with vessel unavailability at 13.5 per cent. Many vessels are tied up queuing at congested ports such as the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, waiting to discharge cargo.

Consequently, schedule reliability – though improving – remains at staggeringly low levels.

“Normalisation will [now] have to be seen in 2023, in the absence of any additional curveballs. We have had one curveball after another in the past two years,” Jensen said.

Experts way back in September 2021 predicted that Chinese New Year 2023 was the “bold view” for relief of intense pressure on the supply chain.

CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Rolf Habben Jansen echoed Jensen’s comments on capacity: “Every ship we have and can get our hands on is sailing. We have bought 500,000 TEU in the past two years.

“But that still doesn’t solve all of those problems. It remains a difficult situation that we are battling every day to save as many voyages as we can, even if that means skipped sailings.

“The yards are producing vessels quicker than anticipated, and we will be starting to see some benefits towards the end of this year. We will be getting back to a normal situation in 2023.”

Ever Forward refloat attempt rescheduled

Ever Forward remains stuck in the Chesapeake Bay despite yesterday’s efforts. Another refloat attempt will take place today.

Five tugboats worked for approximately six hours to free the Evergreen 334-metre container ship, yet the vessel did not move. The ship has been stuck near Baltimore since 14 March.

Dredging work to free Ever Forward began on 20 March.

Weather and tidal conditions were reportedly working against the efforts prompting the US Coast Guard to reschedule the refloat.

The original plan, if the first attempt didn’t work, was to increase dredging around the ship and try again to move it on 3 or 4 April. However, as conditions should improve, new dredging efforts are scheduled for today at the high tide.

There have been no reports of any loss or damage to cargo, however, concerns over its impact on the environment are growing as a potential oil spill is feared.

The incident came a year after the 20,388 TEU Ever Given ran aground on the Suez Canal, blocking traffic on one of the world’s most important waterways for several days.

Container carriers enjoy eye-watering $110 billion in 2021 operating profit

Global shipping lines made an astounding operating profit (EBIT) of over $110 billion in 2021.

According to analysis by Sea-Intelligence, the combined 2010-2020 operating profit across all years was a combined figure of $37.54 billion, CEO Alan Murphy wrote.

In short, the industry has tripled its operating profit in 2021-FY compared to the past decade, he added.

© Sea-Intelligence

“Just by looking at the chart we can see the absurd nature of the supply/demand situation and the freight rate environment of 2021, dwarfing each of the previous years in terms of EBIT/TEU,” Murphy wrote.

“The previous years are hardly relevant in context of the outsized EBIT/TEU numbers what we are seeing right now.”

In the 2021 financial year, the smallest EBIT/TEU was recorded by Maersk of $686/TEU, whereas the largest EBIT/TEU was recorded by ZIM, of a staggering $1,671/TEU.

On average, the six charted shipping lines netted an operating profit of $861/TEU.

In the entire last decade, the highest average EBIT/TEU of these global shipping lines was $155/TEU in 2010.

The EBIT for container carriers hit the major sum without taking into account HMM and OOCL’s figures, which will add an additional $10-$15 billion to final figures.

The figures also discount privately-held MSC, and PIL due to irregular updates.

Earlier this month Hapag-Lloyd announced it had made $26.4 billion in revenue in 2021.

Queuing system taking effect as San Pedro Bay ports clear vessel backlog

Vessel numbers anchored off the San Pedro Bay are being slowly cleared as a new queuing system takes effect.

According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California (MX/CG), the coastguard monitoring service for the San Pedro Bay Ports, as of 17 March some 48 container ships are at anchor.

Despite being up 5 from the low of 43 on 14 March, the backup of ships was last in the 40s in late August and September, and reached a backlog high of 109 vessels on 9 January.

As of 17 March, no container ship has been backed up for more than four weeks.

The range now is 17 container ships backed up less than a week, 14 for 1 week, 7 for 2 weeks, 8 for 3 weeks, and 2 for 4 weeks.

On 16 November, Pacific Maritime Management Services (PacMMS) implemented a new labour queuing system.

Per new queuing system protocols, container ships are remaining outside the Safety and Air Quality Area (SAQA) until within 3 days of their berthing date and time, and then most proceed directly to the pilot station to enter port and avoid anchoring off LA/LB/Huntington, or loitering inside 25 miles.

“The new queuing system for labour doesn’t solve the backup, but by spreading the ships out across the Pacific slow speed steaming and loitering outside the SAQA, it [accomplishes] its twin goals of increasing safety and air quality,” wrote Captain Kip Louttit and the MX/CG socials team.

On the port side of operations, the San Pedro Bay ports – Long Beach and Los Angeles combined – have seen a 64 per cent decline in aging cargo on the docks since the ‘Container Dwell Fee’ program was announced on 25 October.

The ports have withheld the start of the fee that would charge ocean carriers for containers that remain too long on the docks.

The San Pedro Bay ports continue to move record numbers of containers through its gates.

In a recent report from the Port of Los Angeles, it revealed that it has seen a 65 per cent reduction in import containers dwelling nine days or more since 24 October, clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of the Dwell Fee incentive.

© Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles has reported its busiest February yet, handling 857,764 TEU last month, a 7.3 per cent increase year-on-year.

The Port of Long Beach has experienced its busiest February on record, moving nearly 800,000 TEU.

Terminal Graneles del Norte selects Navis TOS for bulk cargo

Navis has announced Terminal Graneles del Norte (TGN) will implement the N4 terminal operating system (TOS) at its greenfield site, which is slated to become operational by late 2023.

The selection of Navis’s industry-leading TOS is part of TGN’s endeavour to become the first semi-automated, multimodal terminal handling bulk cargo.

TGN, a subsidiary of port operator Puerto Angamos, is located in Mejillones Bay at the heart of Chile’s mining region and close to the most important copper district in the world.

Built with the distinct purpose of servicing the requirements of mining and energy producers, the terminal aims to become a strategic partner for the mining and electrical industry, through the safe and efficient handling of their products.

With its rapid access via train and truck – which connects the port to the principal mines in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, without the need to pass through populated areas – the terminal is well positioned to become the natural gateway to the Pacific in South America.

The terminal selected N4 to help redefine how bulk cargo is handled around the world.

With a focus on bulk cargo operations, largely moving Chile’s copper concentrate, TGN has the capacity to handle up to 4.0 million tons of copper annually.

Using rotainers – innovative rotating container technology – and revolving spreaders, which are becoming more common for moving bulk materials, TGN engaged Navis for its automation capabilities.

N4 will act as the brains of the terminal by integrating and enhancing existing technologies as well as connecting to the gate for receival of cargo, providing guidance on loading sequences, stowage and grounding scenarios, directing stacking crane activity and more.

With the addition of N4, TGN will substantially increase productivity and storage capacity by stacking cargo in fully sealed rotainers versus massive piles of raw materials in the yard.

This will not only revolutionise how bulk materials are stored/transported, but will allow TGN to reduce particulate emissions and ensure safer and more environmentally friendly operations.

“Ports which handle bulk materials are confronted with critical ship-to-shore transfer problems, which are often much more complex than those involving the loading or unloading of general cargo or containers,” said Kim Kuesel, General Manager for the Americas, Navis.

“With most dry bulk commodities prone to spillage and dust pollution, there are not only operational challenges, but environmental factors that must be taken into consideration. TGN is looking beyond how it has always been done and taking an innovative approach that will truly mark a ‘before and after’ for how bulk cargo is handled around the world.

“Automation will play a critical role as the terminal continues working towards more efficient and resourceful operations and we’re excited to be in on the ground floor, providing streamlined and efficient solutions to meet their every need.”

“TGN will be the first terminal in the world with a breakthrough operation for bulk cargo, using automation, cutting edge technology and equipment, with a focus on efficiency as well as sustainability,” said Bernardo Sedini, Terminal Manager for Terminal Graneles del Norte.

“We are happy to partner with companies like Navis who has proven time and time again its ability to alleviate the automation implementation challenges that many terminals face and will enable us to improve operational decision making to get ahead of the market.”

In February 2022 Navis announced that Terminal Cuenca del Plata (TCP) has signed a subscription agreement with Navis for its N4 SaaS offering.

2038: Future Visions with Carla Grifo

As part of Port Technology International’s exclusive series with INFORM, Matthew Wittemeier, Director of Marketing and Sales at INFORM’s Terminal & Distribution Logistics Division, sat down with Carla Grifo, Global Innovation, Systems & Technology Senior Manager at DP World.

The experts explored what the future, near and far, might hold for the industry.

In INFORM’s first 2038: Future Visions of 2022, Grifo offers valuable insights about how ports can make way for new technology and how it’s likely to affect efficiency, sustainability, and employment in maritime.

Starting from the year 2020, Matthew and Carla explored the BoxBay concept from DP World – a transformative vertical stacking system which has the potential to revolutionise container management in terminals.

BoxBay has absolutely become a reality, and with it, the ability to bring automation at an entirely new level to the industry,” Grifo noted.

By 2030, the duo broached the topic of sustainability progress – and what success looks like in eight years’ time.

“What I really hope… is that environmental measures will be addressed seriously by [2030],” Grifo posited.

“I’m also involved in looking at decarbonistion for our industry. A lot of measures can have a serious impact as opposed to just saying, ‘Okay, electrification’ — they can go far beyond that. Trends related to the environment are the ones that need to be taken seriously now and will already be impactful by 2030.”

By the year 2038, Carla highlighted the emerging demand for a multi-skilled talent pipeline; break siloes, and improve communication – especially amongst human beings in our industry.

To read the full interview click here

What is 2038: Future Vision?

2038: Future Visions is a series of interviews from leading maritime logistics professionals who share their view of what the future of our industry will look like in the year 2038. It is brought to you in partnership with Port Technology. 2038: Future Visions builds on the award-winning book 2038: A Smart Port Story Inform published in 2019.

What is 2038: A Smart Port Story?

2038: A Smart Port Story explores the terminal of the future and the intricacies of technology and its impact on both the port industry and society. Join Douglas as he unravels the mystery around an incident at the Port of Reykjavik, which sees an AGV collide with a human leaving their life hanging perilously in the balance.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

INFORM: Why Live Events Matter

PTI is delighted to share this editorial submission from Matthew Wittemeier, Director Marketing and Sales at INFORM’s Logistics Division. Following the majorly successful Container Terminal Automation Conference (CTAC) 2022, Matthew has kindly provided his thoughts as to why networking events matter so much – especially after a tough few years for the events industry.

As I sit on the train from London back to Germany, I’ve got the time to reflect on this year’s first live, in-person event, the Container Terminal Automation Conference (CTAC) 2022. Since 2020, the event has been held digitally, and this past week (March 9-10) saw it return to London. Despite my initial concerns of poor delegate turnout based on a couple of maritime industry events held in the latter half of 2021, I was very pleasantly surprised to see dozens of industry colleagues and even some new faces added into the mix. In short, CTAC 2022 was an exceptional gathering of terminal operators and vendors that came together to talk, listen, drink, and eat together and to meet in person with the aim of bringing the industry back together.

For me, the journey to bringing the industry back to a live event is bigger than the conversation about the interesting topics from the event. I’m sure the team from PTI will write a great wrap-up of the content discussed. I want to focus on a discussion of the big picture of what supporting CTAC 2022 as the Official AI Partner meant and why it is important. Why? The answer is simple, for great events to take place, they need sponsors (from both the vendor and terminal side) to have faith that bringing our industry back together for in-person events is worth the gamble. If you’re a marketing professional in the maritime industry, the first half of this piece is for you.

It Was a Gamble

At the end of 2021, I was considering the two industry events held at the end of this year. Both were heavily attended by vendors like me looking to make a connection with their traditional lead pipelines, and both had significant issues in drawing port and terminal operators into the events. I put a live CTAC event in March 2022 at little better than a coin flip as a good investment of my marketing Euros. Having said that, I knew that the team at Port Technology was determined to bring CTAC back in 2022 as a live event, and for the past five years, they haven’t failed to deliver an exceptional CTAC experience and deliver on their promises to me as a significant sponsor. We signed the contract, and I crossed my fingers.

Things Came Together

Despite a slow start of getting delegates signed up to attend live in London, the team at PTI really pulled through with over 120 top-notch speakers and delegates coming together in London for two days of discussion and networking. What looked like a seamless event to delegates and speakers was, in fact, a massive effort with a team of professionals from PTI working to ensure the event came off without a hitch. They juggled expert speakers who could not travel due to company constraints through to speakers contracting COVID-19 the night before they were due on stage. Of course, allowing these speakers to attend remotely proved that a hybrid presentation would not only work but would work well, and after two full days of conversation (and I’ve picked this word specifically given the format was almost exclusively panel discussions), our industries first, truly successful live event drew to a close.

You might be asking me why it was successful. The short answer is that it was collaborative. The long answer is there were healthy debates and conversations everywhere you looked or listened. There was a (mostly) balance between vendors (about 60% of participants) and terminal operators (about 40% of participants). As a sponsor, of course, I would like that number to be the other way around, but this split isn’t that far off from pre-pandemic events. Finally, there was networking. Over the past two years, no digital event was able to get the networking element right. As an industry, we were so keen to network that the post-conference, unofficial “INFORM” drinks and networking at the pub down the road had the strongest turnout I’ve ever seen. Some 30 attendees gathered for one last two hours of conversation.

Why Are Events Important?

If you weren’t sitting in the conference room, this next point might be difficult to fully understand, but bear with me. I’ve moderated conference sessions since 2018 at events around the world, and the first thing I must say is that moderating a digital panel is a nightmare. Sure, we pull it off, but the dynamics are entirely different when you’re on stage with your panelists. Body language tells you who wants to talk and who doesn’t. And the interaction that panelists have with the live audience’s response can’t be put into words. There’s also something really special about a roving microphone for live questions and opinions from the audience. Again, something that is almost entirely lost in digital events.

In short, the conversation is more diverse, in-depth, and real. Technical difficulties don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation. There was only one “you’re muted” to manage over two days of discussions. What’s more, the conversation doesn’t end when the session ends. The audience is free to engage with speakers and each other, and the conversation continues over coffee, lunch, and evening drinks.

Why Is Participating Important?

Participation is a two-way street between vendors and terminal operators. We need vendors to sponsor events for two reasons. One, our event organizers are in business to make money; they aren’t an NFP. Without making a return, the events on which we rely as an industry to share knowledge and gain insights will cease to exist. Two, it keeps the cost of tickets for terminal operators low and, in some cases, free.

On the other side of the road, vendors will only sponsor if terminal operators are attending. We want to share our latest and greatest with you. We have a business need to fill our pipelines, and we do that by meeting familiar faces and learning about new projects in the works, and by meeting new contacts along the way.

There’s a Simple Event Equation

The equation that runs events is really a simple equation. Terminal operators’ attendance drives sponsors to invest in events. This investment drives revenue for event organizers. As an industry, I’ve heard and seen many examples of terminal operators having zero-travel policies that prevent their staff from attending events. This is a huge mistake for two reasons. Firstly, without terminal operators in attendance, vendors won’t sponsor. If vendors don’t sponsor, event organizers won’t put on events. If we don’t have events, the information-sharing that our industry benefits so strongly from grinds to a halt.

Secondly, we’ve all seen the cartoon of two cavemen pushing a cart with square wheels, and they say they’re too busy to listen to new ideas about circular wheels that will improve how they work. While “obvious,” the reality is that conferences are where we share ideas. It is easy to see terminal operators as the cavemen with the square wheels, but I would argue that it is just as likely that the vendors are the ones with square wheels. We rely as much on the information exchange at events for new ideas as the operators do.

So, I challenge you to challenge yourself. As events come back onto the schedules this year, please attend them. Share information. Share stories. Share insights. Network, learn, engage and remember that working together as an industry is what has propelled us forward through every past global disruption.

As a closing point, I want to say thank you to the entire team at Port Technology for having the confidence and endurance to bring us back to our industry’s first successful live event. Without your hard work in the run-up to the event and your nearly sleepless nights during the event, we wouldn’t have gotten there. We wouldn’t have had the pleasure of being reminded why live events are really important.

Thank you!