At Kerry Siam Seaport (KSSP), the port is a node in the buzzing ecosystem of Sriracha and the port’s strong focus on its part of the surrounding community was a key factor at the start of investment into digitalisation in 2013.
Embarking on its journey to digitalise in a traditionally paper-based industry, the investment to digitalise was based on the growth the port anticipated it would experience. KSSP’s management had the vision to make the port operate more efficiently, through digitalisation.
Sangkom Kositwiwat, Regional IT Director at Kerry Logistics and based at Kerry Siam in Bangkok, Thailand, said the port has certainly seen that anticipated growth. The seaport, a deep-sea terminal specialised in container and conventional cargo, now transfers one million TEUs per year and around five million metric tons of conventional cargo including sugar and steel each year.
“This has created quite a unique environment for us to take care of, because we have the kinds of the customers from both worlds,” Kositwiwat explained. “We can have the customer who is very energetic and high-tech such as a ship from the container port – and then you can have a customer who is more conservative.”
KSSP’s mix of customers and stakeholders means its management takes in a whole-port community approach towards daily operations.
“In a Western country, you may think about the port as a specialised area that does things for just the port,” Kositwiwat said.
“But for us, we are private port but we are aligned in the middle of the village. A lot of people are relying on our port. We try to deal with this for the customer, so we can provide better service.”
The impact increased cargo volumes would have on the wider port community – in Sriracha, one of the most congested cities on the planet – was a key consideration in KSSP’s digital vision, says Kositwiwat.
“I think that we need to manage the growth and at the same time we don’t intervene in the community,” he said. “So that we can live with the community along with the growth that you have coming in.”
KSSP is now working on tweaking its online platforms and digital booking services to accommodate the mix of customers it has.
“In the past two years we’ve been focusing on reaching out to our customer,” he said. The seaport launched the KSSP Mobile App in 2019 – something KSSP is continuously working on to provide more functionality in, according to Kositwiwat.
Customers using the mobile app are able to see the schedules of docking and departing vessels through the port with real-time information, and the journey of cargo as it passes through the supply chain.
Through the KSSP Mobile App, the port offers a booking and e-payment services for both its container and conventional cargo customers, removing unnecessary human contact and providing users with real-time information of when their cargo is ready to be collected – reducing HGV waiting times.
“With this transparency and information, we believe that the customer will be more satisfied with using our service,” he said.
Getting people onboard – in the port and in the community
When KSSP set out its company vision to digitalise its port, a major challenge was promoting the benefits of going online – both to its staff members and its customers.
“We don’t want to grow away from our staff as a company,” Kositwiwat said. “We need to retain people and the skills needed for digitalisation is one of the key areas that have been looking at for a long time.”
“Seven years ago, our staff and all of our services everything was on paper,” he said. “Now, everything is on a tablet, everything on the mobile phone that we provide to them.”
Looking forward, Kositwiwat wants to take that inward digital passion external, by speaking to its customers in the community.
“We still need to work more on within our customer to let them understand what we try to do and let them onboard. I think that the main thing that we need to do is to communicate the benefit that they get.
“If there is a feature that benefits the port benefit only, or the customer only, you have a challenge to explain it to a lot of parties.
“We have built this system thinking about all the stakeholders the supply chain, so that everyone gets some kind of benefit that they will they are looking for.”
Greater digital take-up means further integration of information to KSSP’s online offering. This could be in the form of granular cargo detail and tracking, HGV management outside of the port complex, or other areas of development.
With all of the efficiency, cost savings, and decarbonisation benefits that an integrated digital platform brings, KSSP is set to be roll out further online features for its customers.