Digital Twin and Capacity Planning: Next Generation Ports

As the scale and complexity of container ports operations grow, more sophisticated and accurate methods are required to derive precise planning for next generation ports. 

The researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) are currently developing maritime digital twin systems to assist port operators in their decision-making on terminal capacity planning, as well as other maritime challenges. 

20 Years of High-Definition Simulation in the Port Industry

More than 20 years of operations, 1,000 projects across 250-plus terminals, over 500 man-years spent on simulation. Sound crazy? This the story so far for TBA, which is improving the quality of decision-making in ports and terminals. Multi-million projects require a firm foundation of decisionmaking, which solid models can provide. At the time we started our simulation practice, a large majority of terminals were designed using spreadsheets. It goes without saying that those analyses do not consider the process variations that take place in any container terminal operation. These process variations are a key element, as they are relatively large
compared to, for instance, production industry standards…

The Turning Point for Smart Ports

Editor’s note: This paper examines the strategic values required by ports that aim to embrace and transition to emerging and existing digital tools in order to remain a vital node in the world of global commerce.

Turning profits by turning digital. This could be the mantra for tomorrow’s ports. Across the world, ports have engaged in numerous projects deemed to drive the industry to higher levels. The automation behind the loading and unloading of ships, as well as moving cargo and containers in, through and out of the ports, benefits from paperless customs clearance, traffic information to
drivers, connecting refrigerated containers to the internet, and securing gates and yards with cameras equipped with facial recognition capabilities…

The Value of Maritime Simulators: A Much Needed New Approach

Does the international community accept the risks of human failure to lives, ships and the very vulnerable marine environment? Does the international community accept the already enormous pollution the ships
are causing to the environment: sea and air?

The international community will over the coming years expect and demand a change in the safety at sea. This goal can be reached by diminishing (almost) 100% of human failure by demanding better educated and better trained seafarers and assignment on board based on clear assessments. 

Now is the time for action. A new thrust for the future of simulator training, applied research, and assessment should entail:

• Enhancing applied research with innovative simulators and complex environments
• Having a place for each person who wants to have a prominent role in the maritime industry

The Future for Mega Bulk Terminals

The world is currently experiencing a noticeable recovery in the petroleum and mineral resources sectors after suffering a major downturn for the last two years. This downturn saw market prices for nearly every resource commodity sink to such low levels that production was curtailed to minimal levels by many companies as they struggled to stay in business. 

This had a ripple effect on the downstream export logistics networks, as the reduced output resulted in excess capacity at the existing bulk terminals, and even halted planned expansions at some facilities. The largest impact in this area was seen in the coal sector, as both thermal and metallurgical (steel making) coal prices fell dramatically, and the throughput at the dedicated mega terminals for coal shrank to match mine production rates. 

On average, coal production dropped approximately 40% in cash value and 10% by weight from peak 2012 levels, equating to more than 80 million tonnes per year (Mt/y) of excess capacity at the mega coal terminals around the world.

The opposite approach was taken in the iron ore sector, where output was actually increased in an effort to reduce production costs. This kept the iron ore mega terminals in Western Australia and Brazil busy, but also had the effect of further depressing iron ore commodity prices and drove many smaller producers to shut their operations, and halted development of new resources around the world. This is reflected in the global rates for usable iron ore production which peaked in 2014 at 2,330Mt/y, but fell only 4.5% over 2 years to 2,230 Mt/y in 2016.

Port of Indiana Bulk Terminal: Metro Ports Ventures into Great Lakes Market

It took 165 years, but Metro Ports is now operating a Great Lakes terminal. On July 1, 2017 the company took over operation of the bulk terminal at the Port of Indiana Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan. Metro Ports, which already had more than 25 operations in 10 coastal states, traces its roots back to 1852 when its original parent corporation, California Stevedore and Ballast Company, was established during the California Gold Rush era.
Today, the company moves a wide range of bulk and break bulk cargoes including coal, cement, aggregates, potash, fertilizer products, petroleum coke, borax, bauxite, steel, wind energy components and project cargo.

Why would an established company more than a century and a half old with such a strong presence at coastal ports decide to take over a terminal on the Great Lakes and inland rivers system?


The Value of Simulation Training

During the last World Maritime Day on September 25, 2016, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon sent a message: “Maritime education holds the future of shipping in its hands”. According to the International Maritime Organization, if the global fleet increases in size by 70% between now and 2030, the number of officers needed should increase by up to 850,000. Subtracting officers that will retire, it will be necessary to recruit and train around 600,000 new officers, in the order of some 40,000 each year.

Therefore, we face a growing demand for seafarers in an increasingly globalized world that requires trade with higher levels of safety, environmental concern and sustainablity.

In addition, the design of the vessels is ever more innovative, with a continuous development aimed at presenting a hightech working environment. Moreover,nowadays naval architects are designing vessels with new propulsion engines, such as LNG, and seafarers have to face new challenges navigating in harsh conditions or new facilities. In these cases, officers are facing continuous change, which requires a training adequate to combating these challenges. 

Real-time simulation centres are an essential part of the seafarer training in this area. It is the most advanced training tool coming out of universities, offering specific training programs to professionals throughout their professional careers.

Virtual Reality Training for Industrial Firefighting

There is a frenzy of movement on deck as another loud explosion erupts from behind you, accelerating a raging chemical fire at the liquid bulk terminal.The clock is ticking and you need to extinguish the fire now. A walkie-talkie blares in your left hand with updates from the land-side fire department, while your right hand opens a valve manifold as you shout to another crew member. The lid comes flying off its hinges from the pressure and strikes you in the leg. It's all over.

You remove the head-mounted display and take a deep breath. The instructor says you failed to pass the training, but then again, everyone does their first time in Virtual Reality (VR).

Your assessment pops up on your mobile phone; below average communication with crew members, failure to remember correct procedures, failure to check pressure levels before opening the valves, inability to tie moment to moment decisions with the big picture. Luckily, the training will repeat next week, and this time you will be mentally ready.

Research Paper: Gamification Reshapes the Global Economy

The race towards developing technologies, systems and management models to support organization development, leadership and prosperity created a complexity hard to manage within the existing workforce, especially in the developed world.

The need for simplicity, mobility and accessibility were the major drivers towards creating a new discipline that can make technology ‘gamified’ for it to be used in a secure and controlled environment by everyone. Gamification can be seen as a new element in the technological revolution that can change the way people interact with technology and the way technology gets integrated with the current needs of the global economy and society.

Gamification is not about making games, but a new culture driven by motivation and activation factors towards moving the gaming experience in the industry. This paper attempts to identify the role of gamification in the global economy, redefine the gamification concept under new uses of game technologies and indicate its significant impact in modern organizational management.


The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way by it. Economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it didn’t begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th to mid-20th century.

After the initial revolution, a second revolution gradually grew that included chemicals, most notably petroleum (refining and distribution), and, in the 20th century, the automotive industries developed, marking a transition of technological leadership from Britain to the United States and Germany. A third revolution began with electricity and electrification, and the introduction of hydroelectric power generation in the Alps enabled the rapid industrialization of coaldeprived… 

Leveraging Virtual Reality

Dealing with unfamiliar situations is challenging. While over time people do adjust, this adjustment happens only through experience which helps turn the unfamiliar into the familiar. Why do we let people gain this experience only while working? Why not let them experience new situations and gain confidence before they start their tasks or job?

Fear of the unknown is a common phenomenon in terminals where automation is implemented. Take a situation where automated horizontal equipment is moving in fenced-off areas. At times people must enter that area to work on equipment (e.g. breakdowns, lost transmission, slippery surfaces) for people new to automation, they must go out of their comfort zone to enter these work areas.

This fear or hesitation has to do with their unfamiliarity with automation. It can be difficult to present unfamiliar situations through traditional training. Experiencing the effect of external factors and the result of one's own behavior on a given process is more effective than reading and writing about what could happen. For example, if you have ever experienced the consequences of being careless during attaching twist locks to a container, the results effect will create a lasting memory.