Most ports still using manual and paper-based processes without access to digital technology, creating a polarised ports environment and risks in the last mile of a voyage, says Innovez One.
Innovez One, a provider of port management software for ports, stated that of the 4,900 ports in the world, the majority are not yet using digital technology for even the most basic processes. In fact, 80% of ports continue to rely on manual, legacy solutions such as whiteboards or spreadsheets to manage critical marine services such as towage, pilotage and launch boats. This leaves many ports commercially vulnerable and less able to compete in an increasingly digital world.
While the phrase ‘smart ports’ has been used regularly within the maritime industry for a number of years, the benefits of digitalisation remain the preserve of only a few, large ‘Tier 1’ ports that have the profile and financial muscle. This has created a polarised landscape within the port sector
On the other hand, many ‘Tier 2 and below’ ports still use manual, paper-based processes or Excel spreadsheets to arrange and execute jobs and rely on personal interaction and paper-based transactions as the norms for shipboard, ship-port interface and port-hinterland-based exchanges. This leads to a range of inefficiencies in ordering, execution, and billing, as well as a lack of sustainability and competitiveness.
As Innovez One says, this dynamic makes the ‘last mile’ of a journey at sea a weak link in the global logistics chain, opening up risks of delays, late payments, increased fuel consumption and emissions, reduced revenues, and even safety concerns stemming from a lack of traceability. For the 20% of ports where this is not the case, they have often been able to rely on their own in-house software.
The current dynamic reflects the often-messy reality of port operations, which is a blend of high-tech digital and paper-based, manual processes sitting side-by-side. This causes issues in relation to interoperability, where systems are not talking to each other properly, which is impeding effective execution
says David Yeo, CEO, Innovez-One.
The ramifications and missed opportunities for ports from increased efficiencies, revenues, sustainability and competitiveness are significant. In particular, towage operators are missing out on the opportunity to make substantial savings of their annual fuel costs by reducing the mileage of tugs while saving yearly maintenance costs and personnel cost savings of their towage vessels.
However, Innovez-One believes that this current dynamic does not need to continue. As ports digitise, the solutions must be based on a strategic port framework with a set of common criteria. One of the core elements will be to ensure that management systems are based on common design criteria to support an open architecture, enabling different solutions and applications from various suppliers and vendors to co-exist and be interoperable with each other, in real-time.
It is staggering that digitalisation seems to have only been reserved for the larger top-tier ports and established towage operators. Our mission is to readdress the imbalance, because there is no reason why every port cannot be a smart port; digitalisation should be for the many, not the few
David Yeo concluded.
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