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What is port-centric logistics?

Container Terminal at Tokyo Bay
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Port-centric logistics (PCL) is a new concept, which largely refers to the transformation of the port into a space of supply chain innovation and collaboration.

As Port Technology International (PTI) explores, it could be the idea that helps turn the port from a convenient thoroughfare for goods, into a connected, digital ecosystem of trade.

The new decade is just a few months old, yet it has already presented substantial challenges for the maritime industry, in the shape of environmental regulation, the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent problem of moving cargo in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

To meet current challenges, and prepare for future ones, ports and terminals must transform their operations. In doing so, they must become more sustainable and promote collaboration.

Register your interest for the PTI Port-Centric Logistics webinar here.

In practice, this means making data available, utilisation yard space and increasing throughput, all the while cutting emissions. This concept has, in recent years, become known as port-centric logistics.

The truth is, depending on your place in the supply chain, the phrase port-centric logistics could have a different meaning, such is the vastness of a port’s operations.

It could be that a port planner will see it as a way of making the most of brownfield land left by a previous industry, something an urban planner would also examine considering the close proximity between ports and cities.

A port marketer might consider the concept to be putting the port at the very heart of the supply chain, a shipper would look to see if the location and operations best suit its own business requirements.

However stakeholders choose to define the phrase, it is imperative that ports understand the importance of improving their logistical operations.

What is behind the change?

Ports are, as ever, driven by macro-economic events. The growth of the global economy, not counting the COVID-19 slump, has led to increasing amounts of goods being transported on the sea and through ports.

Carriers have responded to the changing environment by expanding their fleets and forming alliances to streamline services. They have also, in the case of A.P. Moeller-Maersk and others, invested heavily in the supply chain to become integrated end-to-end providers.

This has meant carriers no longer see ports as simply a convenient spot for importing and exporting, but rather one that is already part of an efficient, integrated supply chain.

This concept is not limited to carriers. Terminal operators are increasingly seeing themselves as enablers of global trade, instead of being confined to the port.

DP World, for example, views ports as central to its global integrated logistics operations. As part of this it has developed a range of secondary services for importers and exporters, from inventory management to warehouse management, all with the goal of driving growth.

Incidentally, this doesn’t just refer to ports and carriers, but warehouses, freight forwarders and hinterland connectivity networks.

This emphasis on connectivity is central to port-centric logistics because as trade gets faster and greater, it must also get ‘smarter’, and by that we mean it needs to bring logistics services closer together.

Upcoming PTI event: Port-Centric Logistics webinar

PTI is now launching a webinar dedicated to the exploration of PCL. 

The webinar will focus on how ports are reducing supply chain links by bringing warehousing closer to the port land. 

Our webinars are designed to promote a wide range of views on the industry’s most important topics, and we heartily welcome suggestions for contributions – however please note that speaker and sponsorship opportunities are very limited due to high demand.

If you think your company or a contact you know may have something of value to contribute to this session, one of our other webinars, or even a series of sessions, please reach out to our Production Director, Stephanie Morley, directly at smorley@pottechnology.org.

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