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Ports need digitalisation to solve congestion issues
19 Oct 2021

The domino effect of port congestion – Splash 247

The world is currently experiencing significant supply chain disruptions, with a problem in one location resulting in significant delays elsewhere on the planet. The fragility of the global ports system has been highlighted by the pandemic, as COVID outbreaks – as well as extreme weather – have led to unprecedented levels of congestion. This has affected performance worldwide, with only a quarter of vessels on the Asia-North Europe route arriving on time at present.

We must look at the granular level here, where small actions can play a decisive role to ensure ships arrive and leave ports as efficiently as possible. For example, when a vessel arrives at a port, the right resources and staff must be available to welcome it, which includes pilotage and tugboat services.  The organisation of these services in ports is complex, with many variables needing to slot together to achieve efficient operations.

Despite the importance of the first and last mile of a ship’s journey, pilotage and tugboat operations are often the weak link in the global supply chain. In most small and mid-size ports, this critical step is still managed through manual processes, relying on whiteboards and spreadsheets. This is not only inefficient but leaves ports vulnerable to changes in the arrival time of ships, resulting in major delays.

Digitalisation can help solve these issues. Digitalising tug, pilot and service vessel operations using AI software can help optimise planning processes and, importantly, accommodate changes in schedules by reallocating resources in the most efficient way. The supply chain will grow stronger as more ports around the world come to embrace benefits of digitalisation.

Read the full article in Splash 247.