Increased use of data is allowing the maritime world to reach new horizons when it comes to optimising operations , and this is a trend that will also change the way port infrastructure will evolve. Port terminal operators replacing aging berths, cranes and passenger terminals will have to invest in sensors, smart software and constant connectivity in order to stay competitive.
There are certainly challenges when it comes to reaping the benefits of the Internet of things (IoT) – connectivity is not a silver bullet, and data is only useful if proper parameters for study are chosen – but as the movement towards connected ports reaches critical mass, there is no doubt that this is the path that the industry has chosen to invest in.
As such, many large ports t are trying to get ahead of the curve and offer digital services to customers in an attempt to corner large swathes of the market as early adopters. Easy examples are the ports of Rotterdam (which has paired up with IBM for digital transformation), Hamburg (which has launched its SMARTPORT initiatives that look at navigation, logistics and green energy generation) and Singapore (which is currently running its technology start-up PIER71 Smart Port Challenge to address challenges in port operations, shipping and ship management, maritime logistics and services).
The scope of the transformation to digital shipping and logistics is massive and presents huge opportunities for infrastructure architects to drive the direction of development – both for mega ports and smaller ports that will want to ensure that they futureproof as much as possible. In fact, I would argue that it is the smaller ports that would present the best opportunities for those DPC readers that are active in infrastructure as the behemoths often choose to tackle such projects in house.
I look forward to hearing more about projects on both sides of the fence and for DPC to showcase those projects that achieve technical distinction.