Ports for Tomorrow: Smart Links in Supply Chains



Wolfgang Lehmacher, World Economic Forum


Editor's note: This paper forms the latest iteration of Wolfgang Lehmacher's work for Port Technology. While his last two papers focussed predominantly on blockchain and its potential impact on the global supply chain, this latest paper offers a much more holistic view of how our industry is developing, and how ports can position themselves as 'smart' nodes in the wider supply chain. This paper forms the intellectual underpinning of the upcoming Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies Conference, and we are keen for our audience to take some time to read this paper, as its insights act as a foundation from which forth we can grow dialogue. Enjoy the paper below:

The port is the smart link in the intelligent supply chain. An ‘intelligent’ port will connect its non-automated, semi-automated, and fully-automated assets in the yard. A digitally connected operating space leverages data generated from within, received or extracted from external sources to reach decisions that benefi t the business and its customers.

The system will monitor information about the positi on and state of assets and goods that approach and depart from the port, and provide insights into weather, labour disputes and congestion. Smart ports constantly gather and analyse data to establish full visibility of the flows within a port and steer the assets in the safest and most efficient way. The capability of data management, i.e. the gathering, categorizing, computing and storing of data, sits at the core of the intelligent systems. Data is the oil of the digital economy. Digital businesses and governments capture all types of data that is obtained through the devices of The Internet of Things (IoT) and moves over its data highways to the computing engines.

Data availability, computi ng power and artificial intelligence (AI) drive visibility and autonomous decision-making along the entire supply chain. Friction in the data flow affects the system, which is why ports need to live up to their role as a smart link in the global world of commerce seriously by collaborating and investing in such technology.

AI does not only provide the brain that is needed to compute data for decision making, but also the senses to capture and share data through many tools, such as optical character recognition (OCR), which interfaces with other systems of the digital and biological worlds, including humans. Intelligence along the supply chain starts with digiti zati on, which allows process automation to reduce cost and mistakes by taking paper and human error out of the equati on. Digitization also allows the parties to collaborate and transact on the basis of smart contracts.

IoT captures and transmits data to inform smart contracts about the position of cargo. The product of digitization is data, which can be…

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