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Tackling port congestion and emissions with digitalisation
23 Feb 2022

Using data for less congested, more sustainable ports – Marine Log

Addressing problems at a local level will play a key role in tackling the challenges that ports face across the globe, from congestion to pollution.

Supply chains are being disrupted by record levels of port congestion over the last few months, causing delays and shortages. Disruptions from Covid and weather have caused a domino effect across the globe, while backlogs and queues in ports result in even more congestion. Meanwhile, there is also a domino effect happening at the local level, within ports themselves – when the operations that must take place when a ship arrives at or leaves a port are not optimised. Even small mistakes in planning the allocation of tug, towage and pilotage services could leave vessels waiting for hours.

This sort of inefficiency creeps in when manual processes, such as whiteboards and spreadsheets, are used to manage operations. Unfortunately, around 80% of ports across the world still rely on this and are not yet using digital solutions. The current congestion crisis sheds a light on how vital digitalisation is to combat both local and global issues. Not only does smart data optimise planning, but AI-powered algorithms can reallocate resources instantly, giving ports more flexibility if a vessel’s ETA changes. Digital solutions offer a backbone of support to the industry, helping to create a more efficient and resilient supply chain.

Digitalisation also can be utilised to create a more sustainable port environment, namely by reducing emissions. By optimising vessel arrivals, through automated allocation of pilotage, towage and workboats, visiting ships can spend less time idling with their engines on. This also means fewer unnecessary journeys are made by the services vessels within the ports, saving fuel and curbing emissions. Digitalisation is necessary to implement improved just-in-time arrivals, which is a critical step in the industry’s decarbonisation journey.

Digitising on a local level will be the building blocks of a global network of smart ports. Impactful change can begin in each port.

Read our feature in Marine Log.