Interview: What to expect from Smart Port Piers of the Future 2020


The Port of Barcelona will be hosting the second iteration of the Smart Port Piers of the Future event on 17 and 18 November 2020. The event will have some major changes compared with the 2019 iteration, including going online and having Port Technology International (PTI) as the official event partner.

Speaking to PTI, Emma Cobos, Business Development Director, Port of Barcelona, described some of the differences we can expect in 2020 and how the event has been enhanced.

“The main change in this second edition is that the entire event will be 100% online. We have had to reinvent ourselves due to the Covid-19 pandemic and have adapted the event to this new global situation. Attendees will be able to join from their countries through a new platform that we have created to make the event Covid-19 safe. This platform that we are building will be available all through the year for attendees to watch content related to the event,” she said.

To register for the Smart Port Piers of the Future event click here

Major ports from across the globe will make up many of the presentations and speeches in this year’s events with new additions being added to the agenda.

“The Ports of Hamburg, Antwerp, Los Angeles, Montreal and Rotterdam are collaborating with the Smart Ports event, as they did last year. But this year we are also delighted to welcome the Port of Busan – the first Asian Port in our ports alliance. We are very happy to be joined by the biggest port of South Korea, especially since it will give us a view from another part of the world,” she told PTI.

Cobos said that the first edition of Smart Ports: Piers of the Future was very well received.

“This year we expect the event to reach even more people thanks to our alliance with Port Technology International, which is helping us to organise the event and to publicise it on the international stage,” she said.

“Port Technology International has a wealth of experience organising sector-related events and has a large number of international contacts that will help it to publicise the event. They have also devised a marketing plan and made the agenda even more appealing.”

“I am very excited to see how attendees respond to this new online version of the event, since is the first time we have organised a big event in this online format. We hope that it meets participants’ expectations and that we can continue doing things in this way in future. Furthermore, having the Port of Busan on board is a great way to attract people to the event, since it is the first Asian port to take part in Smart Ports and the most important port in Korea.“

Technologies and Trends

The Smart Port Piers of the Future event will explore some of the trends ports are facing today and in the next decade to come.

Cobos commented, “Ports are facing many challenges and trends and will continue to do so in the coming years: cybersecurity, big data, mobility, formalities, etc.

“One such trend is ‘big data’ management. The port community has to process more and more information every year, so it will now be able to anticipate responses to help solve different situations in a more automatic way.”

“Another example of a trend is managing container mobility. High container transit between terminals produces congestion that we are trying to solve using gate appointment systems.

“In addition, this year we are dealing with Covid-19 which is making things more difficult than usual. Port de Barcelona has implemented a major Recovery Plan agreed with the Port Community to recover traffic, detect new opportunities, promote innovation and look to the future. Despite everything, this situation is also helping to speed up the digitalisation of the port and all the formalities around it.”

Ports coming together

The Port of Barcelona is part of the chainPORT group, an international network of various ports that aims to foster collaboration between members to share innovative initiatives that can help ports become more sustainable and intelligent.

The chainPORT group will be presenting during various sessions of the event on 17 and 18 November, brining their unique point of views to some of the challenges that will be discussed.

“This alliance is very important because it creates synergies that help to provide innovative solutions to shared challenges facing ports. This means that we can work more efficiently and share information easily. Communication between ports is crucial to foresee challenges or problems, which helps us to anticipate new situations.

“Some of the subjects that we are discussing about this network will also be dealt with during the Smart Ports event,” Cobos said.

As the Port of Barcelona is working on to continues its development as a Smart Port Cobos said there are around six different areas of transformation that make the Port a Smart Port.  

These include logistics, mobility, sustainability, economy, people and governance.

“We are very committed to the sustainability of the port, which is why we have developed initiatives that will help us halve gas emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral in 2050. One of the initiatives to achieve this is called Power-to-ship, which will make it possible to connect ships to the electrical grid on the wharf side and will avoid emissions from auxiliary engines while vessels are berthed at port. In addition, we have a fleet of fully electric vehicles and have modernised street lighting using LED technology and energy from renewable sources,” Cobos concluded.

To register for the Smart Port Piers of the Future event click here

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