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Q&A: How Terminals Can Better Utilise Data

Q&A: How Terminals Can Better Utilise Data

In this Q&A, Port Technology speak to Matt Miller, Industry Principal for Transportation with operational intelligence firm OSIsoft about how ports/terminals can better utilise their data. 


Matt Miller of OSIsoft


PTI: What do you see as the biggest single issue that ports and terminals face in 2019?

MM: Port operators are facing a variety of challenges from increased competition and environmental compliance to rising costs, but I think the biggest single issue is how to maximize the return on their assets and to improve throughput and efficiencies. Most operators have not yet focused on operational excellence, looking at their operations like a race-car pit crew or manufacturing cell, tuning out inefficiencies that when multiplied lead to dramatic productivity.


PTI: Why is real-time data management so important for ports and terminals?

MM: Data is the only effective tool for driving continuous improvement, without it you are just chasing your tail, or reacting to what is urgent, instead of what is important. The best practice in industry is to benchmark performance metrics and build repeatable processes and practices that maximize customer and shareholder value with no errors and 100% on-time delivery.

This is operational excellence and it’s not possible without a methodical process and lots of high-quality data in operational context. Once you have the data knowing where and when to invest becomes a lot easier.


Read more: Insight: Optimizing Data with OSIsoft


PTI: How can ports and terminals better use their data? What are the key strategies?

MM: Most companies invest in applications to address specific business challenges, each with their own data collection, storage, and management—which then needs to be integrated together for a complete picture. The siloed data from point solutions then becomes an obstacle to innovation and change. Point to point efforts to integrate that data quickly prove expensive and brittle.

A more robust solution is to build a robust System of Record (SoR), which is key to a resilient information infrastructure. Many operations focused organizations are starting with their most valuable assets, collecting high-fidelity data, and using it to optimize productivity and shift to condition-based maintenance, which also increases asset availability. These first two benefits deliver a strong ROI that justifies the initial investment and builds the information infrastructure needed to deliver ongoing value in other business areas.

Review OSIsoft's operational solutions in PTI's Supplier Directory

Best practices in operational information infrastructure are to share all the data will all the stakeholders – if you want them to be part of the solution, they must understand the problems – think big, start small and fail fast.

The current trend is the shift to condition-based maintenance (CBM). That initial program can be the foundation for an Operational System of Record (SoR). After that, there are lots of smaller things which over time can make the biggest difference. 


Mr Miller offers an intriguing opinion on the adage that data is like a fine wine 


Being able to iterate quickly, regardless of success or failure, brings the best overall results while building a data driven culture that is not resistant to the changes that bring the best outcomes.

The key is to bring Process, people and technology together to drive improvements. Focusing on only one or two of these will lead to less optimized results, and sometimes outright failure.

Finally, ensure you innovate, validate, integrate and automate – once you innovate, test the innovation and carefully integrate it into your operations. Once you confirm it is the right change, look to automate and integrate it into systems so that the right thing happens every time.


PTI: How can OSIsoft aid terminals in this pursuit?

MM: OSIsoft is the gold standard for asset, equipment and process monitoring in critical infrastructure. The system is adaptable to a wide variety of data sources and integrates with other SoR's like CMMS, ERP, MES, planning and scheduling etcetera.

Enterprise tools allow stakeholders to apply context and metrics to the data and ensure the data is of the highest quality so that it is actionable by everyone. Once you’ve laid a strong data foundation, you can build on it with more analytics and models that can accurately predict outcomes even with dynamically changing business climates.


David Moosbrugger explores how intelligent data systems are being used in a recent Port Technology technical paper


PTI: We’ve heard a lot about data being like a fine wine that needs time to mature, do you agree with this?

MM: Although it is true that historical data can be priceless, it does have diminishing returns over time. 

Real-time data (just picked fresh) is often the most valuable – if it is actionable. 

The problem is often you need the historical and operational context to take the right action. How far from normal is this value spike? One standard deviation or two? Does this value spike at the same time every day? Does it happen only on certain equipment or everywhere? The ability to get quick answers to these questions is key to making better decisions and taking actions. 

There is no question that knowing where you have been helps you to know where you are going, but you also can’t drive a car looking only through the rear-view mirror.

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