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CTAC 2018: An Event Review

CTAC 2018: An Event Review

The dust is finally settling after a whirlwind few days in London and the PTI team are exhausted but delighted at how the Container Terminal Automation Conference (CTAC) 2018 went.

I really feel we took the event to another level this year, with our speakers, themes and audience interaction unprecedented. 

One name that came up several times during the event, in presentations, slides and by no less than PTI’s own MD, was that of British futurist Arthur C. Clarke. 

Arthur C. Clarke co-wrote (alongside Stanley Kubrick) the screenplay for the 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the dystopian tale of mankind from his simian beginnings and the revolutionary development of tools, to modern man and the revolutionary development of super-intelligent computers.

While we can safely say a dystopian future wasn’t the greatest concern on the minds of our experts, one could see how the CTAC event charted the development of the port sector, and highlighted two symmetrical developments to those aforementioned in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Thomas Gylling (centre) shares an anecdote in Session 2: Future of AI & Automation with Moderator Kris Kosmala (left), Dr Eva Savelsberg (centre left), Francisco Grau Cavanillas (centre right) and Dr Oscar Pernia 

Firstly, where early man developed tools which changed every aspect of human existence, the port sector developed the container, which changed every aspect of the supply chain.

Secondly, where man developed super-computers that took him into space, the port sector has developed AI automation, which has potential beyond our imagination.

With this as the backdrop for the event, we had to construct the sessions as a mix of theoretical and practical (and try to keep our feet on the ground simultaneously!).

I feel we achieved a balance that kept the event realistic, buoyant and intriguing.

One key aspect in doing this is with regard to the involvement of Christina Blauert of Yilport, whom I’ve had great feedback on.

Having a terminal operator speak candidly about his needs, realities and operation has proved highly effective in ensuring our often futuristic dialogue is based in reality, with the end user paramount.

The same can be said for Marc Laureys of DP World Antwerp taking part in a session with Alex Backer of QLESS.

Having real world practical port operators speaking alongside providers is certainly something we want to take into account for future events. 

Also, what a pleasure it was for me to be able to moderate a session with four highly esteemed speakers (Neil Davidson, Drewry; Professor Jean-Paul Rodrigue, HOFSTRA Uni.; Wolfgang Lehmacher, World Economic Forum; and Lars Jensen, SeaIntelligence) in our opening ‘The Industry Today: A Macro Perspective’ session.

Read The Journal of Ports and Terminals Issue 77 to review the key conference papers from our Session 1 speakers

The presentations and following conversation in this session provided a solid foundation for the event as a whole, in fact there were that many key topics we covered – the worldwide state of automation, blockchain, AI, globalization, to name a few – that we could have spoken all day.

However, there was a great deal to get through, and we had brilliant presentations and conversations this year, with speakers ‘demystifying AI’, revealing completely new STS crane concepts, and explaining how the whole chain can become automated.

Special thanks must also go to headline sponsor Navis, and especially Dr Oscar Pernia, who offered a fantastic review of the event (which you can view here).

If you’d like to speak to me about the event to offer your feedback, or enquire about future editions, projects and papers, please mail me at

Richard Joy

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