Digital face of the Baltic ports

Feb 24 2022

Digital face of the Baltic ports

The Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) Digitalization Working Group members met yesterday during an online session. It was the first meeting of the group this year, garnering continuing interest among BPO’s Members. The participants’ attention focused mainly on digitalization projects currently under way in the Baltic ports.

Digitalization remains one of the leading topics in the maritime industry. Digital solutions are an increasingly popular, if not necessary, way of assuring a port’s continuous development and competitiveness, not least in context of increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

Baltic ports are busy

One of the leading areas in which Baltic ports are looking towards digital solutions is the automation of traffic management and check-in processes. Tallinn is leading the pack, with their SMART Port system having been successfully operating for some time now in the Muuga Harbour. The port is moving forward with development and plans to implement system in the cargo ports. Automation of customs operations is another innovation, with implementation beginning at the start of March, 2022.

"One of the leading areas in which Baltic ports are looking towards digital solutions is the automation of traffic management and check-in processes."

Gate automation and communication improvement is also one of the next goals for a number of other ports, including Riga, Rostock, Turku and Ystad. Traffic management and tracking are also on the drawing board for Stockholm as part of their Intelligent Transportation Solution (ITS). Another, smaller, project for the Swedish port currently in development is a solution allowing the buoys outside of Norvik Port to light up automatically based on data acquired from the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

A further area the Baltic ports are currently concentrating on is improvement of communication processes. Helsingborg recently finalized their terminal operating system (TOS) implementation, as the need for a new TOS became increasingly important due to growth in container volumes. In HaminaKotka the ground is set for combining the digital twin technology, successfully in use for quite some time now, with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.

Pietarsaari is also adapting the digital twin technology, albeit at a slightly slower pace, allowing the port to test it out and learn from experiences of others in order to make the best use of the solution based and tailored to their specific needs. The Finnish port also makes use of its own 5G network, currently looking towards promoting its use among companies making up its ecosystem. 5G technology is one of the items on the digital agenda of Stralsund, along solutions for monitoring interactions between various port operations.

Digitalization is certainly supporting the ports in their sustainability and environment protection related efforts. In Kaskinen, a digital air quality monitoring system has been successfully implemented in recent years and is being further developed, with Klaipeda close on their heels with a system of their own finished last year and set to be expanded and improved on with further functionalities. Right now, the Lithuanian port is concentrating on running its Port Community System (PCS), which should result in smoother communication between the various port stakeholders.

BPO’s new Members take the stage

Past two years saw two companies, making great strides in the field of digital innovation, become Members of the BPO family. Yesterday’s meeting featured presentations showcasing some of their latest projects.

ION, who joined the BPO in 2020, presented their new Automated Port Call Feature, part of their Marlin SmartPort™ solution. The feature increases efficiency by automatically creating port calls using the vessel’s positioning system to log its position from approach to port departure. It is especially beneficial for high traffic vessels requiring minimal paperwork, e.g. crew transfer vessels.

The latest addition to the BPO line-up, Awake.AI, talked the meeting’s participants through the company’s profile, including their AI-based prediction services. One of the recent functionalities is the multihop prediction, which enables significant improvement to visibility for future vessel arrivals. It carries immediate benefits for port call planning (e.g. planning of work shifts at berth) without the need for the port to provide any sensitive data.

The meeting also featured a presentation by one of BPO’s long-standing Members, a company that needs no introduction especially when it comes to innovative strides in the automation area – Konecranes. Their new High Bay Container Storage system fully automates container storage, vastly reducing the warehouse footprint, in turn freeing up space for additional development.

"Past two years saw two companies, making great strides in the field of digital innovation, become Members of the BPO family."

The next meeting of BPO’s Digitalization Working Group is scheduled for September, 2022.