Smart Ports Piers of the Future Q&A: Carles Rua


Ahead of next month’s flagship Smart Ports Piers of the Future event hosted by the Port of Barcelona, Port Technology International interviews Carles Rua, Chief Innovation Officer, Port of Barcelona. What does it mean to be smart? How can event partners provide their expertise? Carles tells more below.

What does it mean to you to be a smart port?

Being a smart port means to use technology to become more competitive and sustainable. The Port of Barcelona a few years ago developed a smart port model based on the concept based on the concept of a smart city. The port is quite similar to a smart city.

We have identified six main areas in which the concept of a smart port allows us to implement technology to become more competitive: Environment; Mobility; Logistics; Governance; Economy; and People.

“Being a smart port means to use technology to become more competitive and sustainable.”

You have to technologically develop these areas in a balanced way. If you are focusing on improving the logistics side of operations, at the same time you could be punishing people or impacting your sustainability. To be smart means to work on these six areas with technology at the same time and in a balanced way.

The theme this year is on PORTS: Partnerships; Oceans; Resilience; Technology; and Start-ups. How does Barcelona follow these five pillars?

On Partnerships, Barcelona after developing its Innovation Plan recently agreed technological partnerships with the Barcelona Activa: Agència de desenvolupament local, the council related to innovation. More globally, we recently signed an agreement with the Port of Ashdod, Israel.

Related to Oceans, the port is focusing on the blue economy. In the coming weeks, we will bring to the Port of Barcelona the Sustainable Ocean Summit organised by the World Ocean Council.

On Resilience, we are in a very disruptive environment at the moment. Some ports are facing logistics crises with queues of vessels waiting as a result of the pandemic. There have been many tight situations in the couple of years following the pandemic – and as a result, one of our mandatory requirements is for the port to become more resilient. In the future disruption will be the new normal.

We have to be used to that, wrestling in order to keep pace with disruptions through Technology. The last decades have been the most innovative and technologically advanced sector, through the automation of transport through self-driving systems and drones that are changing the situation.

Carles has been with Barcelona’s innovation team since 2006

“We cannot develop innovation by ourselves… You need the help of experts.”

The last leg, on Start-ups, is an issue which the port is working incredibly hard on because we believe in the concept of open innovation. We cannot develop innovation by ourselves, because don’t know about all the technologies you may use in port. You need the help of experts.

Barcelona is partnering with six global port leaders as part of the event: Antwerp-Bruges; Busan; Hamburg; Los Angeles; Montreal; and Rotterdam. What insights can viewers gain from these ports?

The first conclusion we have obtained in discussion with the other ports is we are facing more or less the same problems. We are trying to solve the problem in the same way.

Carles Rua pictured with Port of Barcelona and Ashdod Port representatives during the signing ceremony earlier this month

Some ports are more focused on problems: Los Angeles probably is leading in terms of sustainability; Rotterdam leads on Vessel Traffic Management and just in time operations; Hamburg works very well as an inland partner in managing a lot of trains.

The knowledge we’re getting with these multiple solutions means we can join together and benchmark what other ports doing. This speeds up your innovation through knowledge of who is implementing what initiatives and what is working, or what problems ports are having on new initiatives. It’s a win-win for all of us.

Daily Email Newsletter

Sign up to our daily email newsletter to receive the latest news from Port Technology International.

Supplier Directory

Find out how to get listed

Webinar Series

Find out how to attend

Latest Stories

Cookie Policy. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.