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Driving bulk ports and terminals toward digitalisation, automation, operational resilience and safety

Digitalisation has been slow to come to the bulk ports sector. In one sense, it is not surprising that container ports and terminals have stolen a march in terms of technology. The very essence of containerisation is to encapsulate cargo flows into discrete units (say, a TEU) which naturally lend themselves to data collection and analysis.

But bulk commodities are not the same. Although tonnes can be measured in and out of a port, it is not apparent how that intelligence can be used to drive business performance.

However, some bold steps are now being taken to digitalise and additionally automate bulk ports. The 43rd edition of TOC Europe at Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 18-20 June 2019, features free-to-attend Bulk Seminars that will outline a road map towards smart, safe and clean bulk ports and terminals.

Assessing the bulk outlook

Setting the scene, Leticia Astudillo, Technical Lead at Drewry Maritime Consultants and Peter Sand, Chief Shipping Analyst, BIMCO, will discuss the Outlook for the Solid Bulk Sector in 2019 and Beyond.

Dry bulk trades had a good 2018, at least compared with the previous three or four years. Coal shipping turned in a particularly strong performance. Yet considerable risks lie ahead over the short term, not least ongoing uncertainty over trade relations between the world’s major economies.

For example, expectations for steel production trends in the countries using imported raw materials, suggest that positive effects on iron ore import demand will probably be quite limited this year. Output of crude steel in China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union could be flat in 2019, compared with the previous 12 months.

So, while the overall outlook remains uncertain, now is the time for bulk ports and terminals to build resilience into their day-to-operations. Increasing revenues is likely to remain challenging for facilities handling dry bulk materials, but smart technology offers promising techniques for controlling, or even cutting, costs as a way bolster profitability.

Getting the mix right

In another key presentation, Oded Orr, Senior Project Manager, Haifa Port, Israel, will present a case study on How To Implement a New Information System To Run a General Cargo Terminal.

Mr Orr will examine the required strategy mix necessary for the successful implementation of modern digital technology and how this can afford a genuine competitive advantage for ports and terminals.

Next-gen operations

Managing a Next Generation Bulk Port and Terminal will be highlighted by Kris Kosmala, Director – Smart Port Operations Digital Solutions, Royal HaskoningDHV.

Mr Kosmala will describe how smart ports should collect all the data from operations, machinery and people to determine the right execution with minimal human intervention in the decision-making process.

Migrating from predictive to prescriptive (condition-based) maintenance can prove a real money saver. Likewise, power consumption (electricity and equipment fuels) are further areas for spend optimisation. Advanced engine controls on moving equipment cut energy and/or fuel consumption, if supported by data analysis of the movements of the machines in relation to the tasks performed and, possibly, human operator behaviour.

Further seminars will address critically important issues facing bulk ports and terminals, including Environmental Pressures and Potential Processes to Mitigate Environmental Impact, the Future Landscape for Dry Bulk Facility Investment, Better Asset Management, and Continuous Handling of Bulk Materials on the Open Seas.

Focus on safety from DBTG

Also taking part is TOC association partner the International Dry Bulk Terminals Group (DBTG), a not-for-profit, non-commercial Membership Association that represents owners and operators of dry bulk terminals across the world. Its primary function is to provide a forum and a voice for the still highly fragmented international dry bulk industry.

“The maritime industry is generally viewed as sectional, however there is significant cross-over through all the sectors,” says Nic Ingle, Executive Director at DBTG. “The Bulk sector seminars at TOC Europe are a great opporuntiy to put into practice what DBTG does best, share experiences and drive up standards, whilst learning from others.”

As an NGO at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), DBTG has been involved with and brought to the table several significant issues including the Global Bauxite Working Group and the BLU Code. The most significant issue to date however is working in enclosed spaces on board ships. “This has resulted in 140 deaths in the last 20 years, 40 of those in the last 12 months, affecting seafarers and port workers alike,” says Mr Ingle. “The statistics speak for themselves and the issue will be addressed at the IMO in 2019. The DBTG presentation at TOC Europe will detail these unacceptable deaths and explore what can be done to prevent them re-occurring.”

Dry Bulk pavilion

Running alongside these free-to-attend seminars is the TOC Europe Exhibition. New to TOC Europe this year is a dedicated Dry Bulk Pavilion where the latest technologies and best practices designed to enhance efficiencies in dry bulk handling will be on display.

Numerous companies specialised in bulk handling equipment and technologies will exhibit their range of products and services and be on hand to discuss ‘getting smart’.

Several exhibitors are scheduled to use this year’s event as a platform to launch new products confirming TOC’s reputation as the world’s leading port technology event.

Exhibiting companies this year include: Bedeshi, Buttimer Engineering, Feyter Forklift Services, Hyundai Samho, Konecranes, Liebherr, Qingdao Haixi Heavy-Duty Machinery, RST Sistem, Telestack, and many more.
Source: TOC Europe

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