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With the transportation of cargo currently experiencing record demand levels due to the effects of lockdown, ports and terminals have never been under greater pressure to deliver effective and efficient operations. This, coupled with the backdrop of industrial industrialisation – or ports and terminals’ very own ‘4th Industrial Revolution’, has led to an accelerated shift with how the overall industry interacts with its surroundings.
With a plethora of technologies including ‘Big Data’, ‘The Internet of Things (IoT),’ ‘Artificial intelligence’ (AI), ‘Automation’ and ‘Blockchain’ all revolutionising port processes from top to bottom, leading industry associations are now calling for a rapid development and adoption of commonly agreed industry standards and language for the cargo handling industry.
Lamia Kerdjoudj Belkaid, Secretary-General of the Federation of European Private Port Companies and Terminals (FEPORT), recently spoke with TOC Digital to discuss her work in the field, and having been at the forefront of the industry for many years, and one of the founding members of TIC 4.0 – an industry association established to promote, define and drive the adoption of standards that will allow the cargo handling industry to embrace the 4th industrial revolution, Lamia spoke at length about the short and long-term goals of the initiative in this Q and A session ahead of a special edition TOC Digital webinar on 24th February 2021:
Q: In June 2018, FEPORT alongside PEMA announced the establishment of TIC 4.0 designed to “recognise the need for the container terminal industry to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to further advance digitalisation”. Why did you feel that the container terminal industry lacked preparedness and needed help in its digitalisation journey?
A: “I think that standardization was lacking in the terminal industry and this is how and why TIC 4.0 came to birth. This objective will allow both operators and manufacturers to adopt a common language regarding port operations and implement Industry 4.0 models. The existence of standards will certainly foster an efficient adoption of the Industry 4.0 paradigm and at a lower cost, enabling operators, manufacturers, and software providers to share a common understanding of the key aspects that affect the operations and logistics of port terminals.
Without standardization, mutual understanding and dialogue between port equipment manufacturers and solution providers and their customers would have remained a non-satisfactory one essentially stimulated by offers from port equipment manufacturers while now customers feel a strong need to build interoperable systems. It is therefore very welcome that both sides agree on a common language.”
Q: What are the objectives for TIC 4.0?
A: “The main objective of TIC 4.0 is to bring together terminal operators, port equipment manufacturers and software suppliers to define, develop and maintain standards that enable the sector to face critical challenges like digital transformation, energy transition and the evolution towards automation.
FEPORT has been a supporter of the initiative since the beginning as this corresponds to our members’ priorities. Standardization implies a level of maturity among industry players which have realized that improvements and performance can also be achieved by defining common standards. A closer interaction between terminals and manufacturers with the objective of the elaboration of industry standards will favour the development of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, further technological innovations in the port sector. Innovation will also be the best means to support sustainable and efficient port operations.”
Q: This isn’t just an issue limited to the container terminal industry and rather the whole supply chain. With many different initiatives focusing their efforts on standardising ‘their part’ of the supply chain – what is TIC 4.0’s thoughts on collaborating with these other initiatives and expanding the ongoing standardisation project?
A: “Moving into the fourth industrial revolution also means that the terminals also realize that they are more and more connected to the seaside but also the land side and that all efforts to streamline processes, standardize and have systems that exchange data with other parties of the logistics chain will provide them a competitive advantage and will allow them to perform sustainable operations too.
This is the essence of the cooperation that FEPORT and now TIC 4.0 are aiming for. FEPORT is a strong believer in cooperation within the maritime logistics chain. Every year, we do organize a stakeholders’ conference and not a FEPORT one. We also consider that the dialogue between TIC 4.0 and DCSA is an essential one.”
Q: When discussing standards, we often tend to just focus on the concept of common data language but the truly standardised operations can have a wider value including environmental – how important is it that this element(s) are brought front and centre of discussion?
A: “A closer interaction between terminals and manufacturers with the objective of the elaboration of industry standards will be the best means to support sustainable and efficient port operations. For FEPORT, standardization is also a road to sustainability. This will be explained in detail on the 24th of February.”
Q: In a world where TIC 4.0 and other associations have achieved their aim in advancing digitalisation and standardised language, date and procedures in place – what does this sector look like?
A: “I think cargo velocity will improve and visibility and transparency will become real. Customers and consumers will know exactly where their cargo is. And finally, the carbon footprint and costs of operations will certainly decrease.”
Q: You will be joining the panel for the TIC 4.0 webinar; can you give any insights into what will be discussed during the discussion?
A: “I am delighted to join the discussion next February 24th because this is an important dialogue that we are going to start with all stakeholders interested by the 4th industrial revolution in ports but also beyond.
One of my colleagues in Brussels working for the inland navigation industry asked me whether it was worth attending the event given that his focus is inland waterways. My reply was “The industrial revolution does not stop at ports; it concerns the whole maritime logistics chain. So, any good initiative or development in ports will have a positive effect upstream and downstream ports”.
We would like to thank Lamia for her time and highlighting the vitally important work that the TIC 4.0 initiative is undertaking and how its remit expands to more than simply establishing a common date language for the cargo handling industry.
You can now listen to the On-Demand version of the webinar: ‘The 4th Industrial Revolution in Ports – How the Terminal Industry is Setting the Standards’ on 24th February 2021 – by clicking here
For more information about the TIC 4.0 visit their website at: https://tic40.org/