Baltic ports go digital
Yesterday saw the first online gathering of the members of Baltic Ports Organization’s (BPO) Digitalization Managers Group. Over 20 representatives from a number of Baltic ports met in order to discuss a variety of topics, including port process optimization via digitalization and automation.
The creation of the group arouse from the clear need for exchange of knowledge and experience accumulated by the ports in the Baltic Sea region, related to the implementation and development of digital solutions, that offer clear benefits. Digitalization, as a process, has been one of the main trends of the past years for nearly every industry and it becomes increasingly more important as time goes by. It is hard to imagine a port that doesn’t at least consider enhancing its operations by choosing from the multitude of digital solutions, with new tools hitting the market on a nearly daily basis.
"It is hard to imagine a port that doesn’t at least consider enhancing its operations by choosing from the multitude of digital solutions..."
It remains vital to keep in mind, that while digitalization as a whole is a positive process, offering various opportunities for the companies ready to invest, it is not without its pitfalls. The most crucial one is choosing the right approach, one that carefully identifies real needs and areas that can benefit from implementing digital tools and does not lead to overextending and wasting precious funding on solutions that might look great on paper but are an ill fit for the given company. Due to varying operating budgets, ports become digitalized at a different pace, which makes the implementation of many cross-industry solutions a rather difficult task.
The latest addition to BPO’s working group lineup aims to alleviate these challenges by offering the Baltic ports a platform for the exchange of knowledge and real-life experience. By starting an open discussion about the tools, that many ports already use, it will allow others to make educated decisions and minimize the risk of wasting resources. The overall response of the participants of yesterday’s meeting was highly positive, with a clear “yes” to continuing such initiatives in the future. Exchanging views can help everyone involved to improve and learn, in the end leading to an even stronger, more robust and future-ready port sector.
The participants also discussed a number of technologies they are currently testing or have already implemented. Traffic management systems and vessel traffic systems were showcased in greater detail in a set of three presentations by the Ports of Tallinn, Turku and Stockholm. Port of Kaskinen mentioned their use of digital tools for emission control from various sources. Port of Stralsund is currently analyzing how they can benefit from a high-speed 5G network. It would be hard to talk about digitalization without mentioning drones. As such they were also a part of discussion, mentioned among others by the Ports of Hamburg and HaminaKotka, being already used for infrastructure inspection and having potential for cargo volume measuring.
"Exchanging views can help everyone involved to improve and learn, in the end leading to an even stronger, more robust and future-ready port sector."
It is clearly visible, that Baltic ports are right there in the thick of things when it comes to digitalization. Even smaller ports have the chance to grab a piece of the digital pie, with their efforts being supported by projects such as the Connect2SmallPorts initiative, which fosters cooperation and acts as a readily available learning platform for port managers.
The BPO Digitalization Managers Group will meet again in September.