Academic tie-up to improve port innovation

04 April 2022

Peel Ports Group, one of the largest port operators in the UK, has entered into a partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Management School to enhance its newly-formed Innovation Forum.

The Forum aims to answer some of the port operator’s most challenging questions in its effort to reduce carbon emissions, and as part of its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The University’s Management School will now become a key partner in Peel Ports’ Innovation Forum, which also looks to bring together a broad range of suppliers including starts-ups, entrepreneurs and consultants to explore the biggest issues in accessing and purchasing carbon-neutral solutions for the group’s seven sites across the UK and Ireland.

In what is understood to be an industry-first for any UK port operator, the Peel Ports’ team will raise questions and challenges with members of the Forum and ask them to source solutions or develop ideas to address these.

Previous, current and forthcoming sustainability initiatives at Peel Ports include:

  • Exploring options for using water flows at docks to generate energy.
  • Collecting rainwater from roofs to help maintain dock levels.
  • Moving from diesel to greener alternative fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO)
  • Trialling electric-powered forklifts.
  • Exploring hydrogen to power lorries.
  • Using electric cranes to minimise container movements; these can also generate energy to export back to the network.
  • Converting lighting to LED.
  • Adding sensors and controls to reducing lighting.
  • Completing a trial of recycled asphalt for resurfacing roads and working areas.

Lewis McIntyre, Managing Director - Port Services at Peel Ports Group said:

“We have invested over £1.2bn on infrastructure projects over the last 10 years, and much of the focus of this investment has been on driving down carbon emissions as part of our ESG  agenda.

“As an industry we need greater collaboration in developing pilot projects and sharing knowledge. Our Innovation Forum is designed to address some of the biggest challenges in reducing carbon emissions. We will invest in the best innovation and deploy at scale.

“This new initiative will give us the advantage we need to stay ahead whilst providing opportunities for businesses in the Liverpool City Region and beyond.”

Professor Julia Balogun, Dean at the University of Liverpool Management School said:

“We are excited to be partnering with Peel Ports Group, particularly via the Innovation Forum, which will provide a framework for knowledge exchange, thought leadership and potential research collaborations with our Centre for Supply Chain Research. 

“The Centre’s key research strengths are: transport and logistics; agri-food supply-chains; sustainable supply chain management; agile operations; and supply chain technologies, analytics and risk, so is well placed to contribute to Peel Ports’ objectives for the future.

“The partnership will also help inform our teaching and employability initiatives, ensuring that our students are well-equipped with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to become the next generation of leaders.”

The collaboration will also include sharing insights and input to strengthen the University curricula in professional areas, as well as opportunities for graduate and student placements and apprenticeships.

In addition, the port operator will support student employability and work skills to prepare the future workforce, as well as identifying opportunities to enhance the University’s research profile through projects to benefit businesses.