Ports – a digital hub in the logistics chain?in Maritime Knowledge by Andrew Craston
As transport-related information is increasingly digitalised and standardised, ports have the chance to take on a key role as digital hubs. As reported in our blog entry on April 19, the process of digitising trade documents is finally moving forward as key players launch blockchain-based initiatives. Now experts predict that before long, digitised information flows within the shipping sector will be integrated into other parts of the overall logistics chain. The experts in question are heading Port CDM (Port Collaborative Decision Making), a concept being developed under the auspices of the EU-funded Sea Traffic Management Validation project. A recent announcement from this project team indicated that a common messaging standard for port activity time stamps is being finalised with the help of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). Moreover, several ports are already testing Port CDM.
These Port CDM experts point out that cargo owners are becoming much more interested in efficiency across the entire logistics chain. This indicates a switch in focus away from individual players, such as terminal operators or ships, towards a much more holistic view of logistics efficiency, i.e. how efficiently can cargo owners have their freight transported from a factory to the end user. Amazon, for example, has already said it is keen on taking charge of its own delivery chain, which significantly shifts the focus away from the vessel to the actual cargo.
The benefits of digitisation across the entire logistics chain are immense: real-time cargo tracking, improved predictability of cargo arrival times, easier access to detailed information for every player in the logistics value chain, analysing and questioning existing logistics patterns with the aim of replacing inefficient processes. In a word, digitisation is a great opportunity to optimise the transport logistics chain. Ports would have a vital part to play as digital hubs. Are they ready and willing to take up the challenge?