Port technology can lift commercial success

Our Head of Technology and Engineering Development, Damian Cross is one of the speakers at an event in Manchester today looking at the power of smart technology to grow businesses. Here, Damian considers how this relates to the port and logistics communities.

A quiet revolution has been taking place on the quayside over recent years. Relatively few people get to see what goes on at a port and those who haven’t done so for a few years would be astonished at the scale of change.

The first thing observers might notice is the size of vessels, cranes and other infrastructure. It’s true there is a ‘bigger is better’ trend in shipping and ports but our approach to innovation is much more sophisticated than that. While we do need to handle larger vessels and growing volumes, it is just as important to optimise operations between different aspects of the whole supply chain to meet our customers’ evolving needs.

The creation of our ultra-modern container terminal, Liverpool2, was the perfect opportunity for us to put that into practice. A significant proportion of the £400m was focussed on inter-connected IT systems to ensure the efficient operation of the built infrastructure, from the terminal operation system to the Autogates that removed a lot of the manual processes for handling vehicles on site.

But we haven’t done this just for our own sake. Both of these are examples were about introducing technology for a wider supply chain benefit.

Our customers want technology that helps them to reduce costs, carbon emissions and congestion, which we can provide through systems that allow for quicker turnarounds and greater predictability, as this in turn allows everyone from cargo owners to hauliers to optimise their own operations.

Efficiency has never mattered more because consumer expectations have changed, especially thanks to online shopping and intense competition among retailers of all kinds.

Previously ports were much more transactional and that was fine for a slower commercial world. Now, we have to work in partnership with our customers and other supply chain providers, because that’s the only way to move the dial far enough to cope with modern demands.

Investing in built infrastructure, people and processes is crucial, but the biggest gains can only come by building in the smart use of technology as well, whether that’s electronic IDs for containers, data-driven business planning or automation crane operations.

We don’t think this trend will slow down any time soon. In fact, we expect the pace to pick up. Thankfully, our approach in recent years puts us in a great position to keep innovating and keep investing.

To find out more about the event please click HERE.

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