Embracing automation and sustainability
Automation and Big data can achieve more sustainable operations. Photo: Lourdes Munoz Santamaria
A new report by Trelleborg discusses the opportunities available to marine industry stakeholders through ‘smart’ technologies, process automation, and the capture, analysis and effective use of Big Data.
'Preparing for the Port of the Future', informed by renowned Futurist Gerd Leonhard and backed up by an industry wide survey conducted by Trelleborg, suggests that there’s a real lack of understanding of the significance and opportunities of these new technologies, including green benefits they can achieve.
Louis van Schel, Secretary General at PIANC, said: “The environmental footprint of ships and handling, as well as of all material and equipment used in the port sector, must be as low as possible. This needs to be emphasised when designing, producing and maintaining port oriented equipment.”
He added that when it come to the environment, smart solutions will definitely help to reduce costs. Reduced waiting times will lower GHG emissions, while use of alternative fuels, such as LNG, and developments such as cold ironing and onshore power supply will all help to minimise negative environmental impacts.”
Gerd Leonhard said that it’s ‘completely obvious’ that logistics in shipping – and the areas around it – are ripe for disruption.
And not from the big shipping companies. Disruption will come from start-ups and big technology companies and there are already examples of this in the industry. For example, Maersk is teaming up with Chinese company Alibaba to allow customers to reserve spaces on its vessels.
The report warns because data will become the new business currency, ports, terminals and vessels alike should be gathering data now, to analyse and act upon to be best placed for the future.
Worryingly, of those surveyed, only 24% automatically store vessel data and proactively analyse it to inform future decision making and only 32% electronically capture and standardise data whilst the vessel is at berth.
And data currently being collected by ports and terminals is really only the bare minimum in understanding the status of vessel and berth. So to glean real insight into real time conditions and support decision making, more in depth insights are required.
For example, the ability to use GPS data to align manifolds and vacuum mooring systems on bulk liquid vessels and terminals (oil, LNG, food, oils, chemicals) would save valuable time and also be beneficial when the industry starts to look at autonomous or remote guided vessels.
The report concludes that perhaps the scale of the anticipated change is daunting for ports and terminals, leading to inertia.
But the fact is that it that automation and Big Data don’t have to be scary. Much of this data will be gathered from processes and equipment that are already in place. It’s more about gaining insight into how efficiently the port ecosystem is running and then identifying areas for improvement.
Trelleborg’s SmartPort concept uses the latest in data powered marine technology to connect assets, collect data and provide insights that support ports and terminals in their drive towards the Port of the Future vision.