It all started with the opening and availability of expert Mikael Lind, Associate Professor and Research Manager of the Sustainable Transport application area, at RISE Viktoria Research Institute in Sweden.
One of the most recent article entitled ‘Are the major container alliances an accidental hindrance to creating the ultimate efficient port?‘, attracted the attention of Revista Cargo and what followed was a fruitful exchange of ideas that led to the analysis and dissemination of ‘Concept Note 15’, which had given rise to Mikael Lind’s individual essay.
The work carried out by the specialist, who is also with the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, shows the power of the three major maritime alliances currently controlling the seas, noting that «The container shipping industry has rapidly consolidated in recent years as trade responded to economic turmoil. The sharing of slots and even of ships «is having a significant impact on terminal operations and within it the levels of efficiency».
The work carried out by the specialist, who is also a member of the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, shows the power of the three major maritime alliances currently controlling the seas, noting that «The container shipping industry has rapidly consolidated in recent years as trade responded to economic turmoil. The sharing of slots and even of ships «is having a significant impact on terminal operations and within it the levels of efficiency».
Are alliances putting pressure towards the failure of terminals?
After the introduction, Mikael Lind advances to the heart of the matter: Do alliances (2M, THE Alliance and Ocean Alliance), sending mega-ships to major ports, «create full port efficiency, or are they simply hindering it at these mega ports and the subsequent smaller ports that are then served through transshipment services?». Lind concludes that «competitiveness, and with it regulatory requirements that make these container firms cautious about cross industry collusion, has led to a situation where the sharing of information could be problematic».
Recalling that «terminal operators exist within a complex competitive and unpredictable environment», the Swedish expert refers to interviews with Mediterranean terminals (under Concept Note 15), which revealed « significant list of obstacles to raising port operation efficiency». In all cases, procedural and technical recommendationsof PortCDM, one of the enablers of Sea Traffic Management (STM) validated within the STM Validation Project,appears to be a path towards mutual co-ordination capable of integrating container terminals as links in an activity chain that can only enjoy high levels of efficiency if its communication is effective.
Revista Cargo had the opportunity to interview Mikael Lind
The magazine spoke with Mikael Lind, who kindly agreed to give an interview to explain the whole context of research and analysis done him and the rest of the team (RISE Viktoria) together with partners within the STMValidation Project, activity 1 – PortCDM testbeds.
Thanks a lot for your time and evaluation of this piece of work. As you probably have understood, we (= a core team from RISE – Research Institutes of Sweden) have working with CDM (collaborative decision making) within different domains where we started in the aviation sector (AirportCDM is a very important enabler for the efficient airport) and then in 2013 we brought it to the maritime sector (as an enabler of Sea Traffic Management (STM)). Lately we have also brought the CDM thinking to the railway sector.
REVISTA CARGO: The report (Concept Note #15) ‘Extending the efficiency boundary form ports to hubs: A new role for container terminal operators’ joins several specialists to analyze port efficiency – what were the reasons that led to the execution of this work?
MIKAEL LIND: We strongly believe that terminal operators play a core role in enabling global supply chain performance in order to get maritime operations become an integrated part of this chain. Please see concept note on #14 on this issue as well (https://fathom.world/overcome-operational-inefficiencies-charter-parties/)
Tell us a bit more about PortCDM project and its goals.
Please visit concept #1 which best summarizes the PortCDM concept best (https://fathom.world/case-less-optimal-operations-lead-better-efficiency/) AND maybe also listen into the webinar that we just had (https://fathom.world/together-get-better/).
What is the role of PortCDM in the understanding of the variables linked to the cooperation/coordination and the increment of efficiency from the terminal operator point of view?
PortCDM builds upon sharing data on the progress and outcome of key events associated to the port call. This means that the coordinative capabilities for each actor (within the distributed and self-organized eco-system) would be enhanced.
What do you consider being the path for ports/terminals to reach a higher level of efficiency nowadays?
We strongly believe that the most important factor is for the terminal operator to share and consume time stamp data outside the scope of its operations. This concerns both what other port call actors plan and conduct, the progress of the ship, as well as the progress in upstream ports (and thereby at upstream terminals). It is also highly important to enhance the reliability of the data by combining multiple data sources.
How crucial are optimization (of resources) and efficiency level for the development of major transshipment hubs?
It is very crucial in order to put the port (and thereby its participating actors) to optimize and be efficient in order to develop and sustain competitive advantage as a transshipment hub. We also touched upon this in the concept note elaborating on port-2-port collaboration (see https://fathom.world/proving-port-port-communication-can-save-shipowners-money/)
What are the main challenges of terminals operators these days?
The main challenge is probably to cope with upstream disruptions, especially due to ships that are visiting a chain of ports. Many times, the terminal operators have very short planning horizons to cope with arriving ships. Another challenge is also to secure hinterland flow of goods coming in and out of the terminal.
The proliferation of mega-vessels puts additional stress on terminal operations and requires great investment – in what way are terminals being affected? Is this trend a menace to terminal’s existence as we know it?
Yes and no I think. There is a lot more that can be made to make terminals more efficient in respect to procedures and planning. As of today, there is too little knowledge of expected future operations which require enhanced digital collaboration within and outside the boundaries of the port. Of course, the capabilities (such as crane capacity) are important to meet the future demands but I also think that we should elaborate on other (cheaper) means for meeting the demands. Another issue is of course that the batches of incoming and outgoing cargo puts more stress on the yard planning and hinterland transports. Again – the optimal way would be to elaborate on the digital supply chain as a complement to the physical supply chain.
«All too often, there are failures in ensuring that the necessary arrangements are in place during terminal operations at the time that they are needed, because of a lack of data sharing and collaboration between all the involved actors» – data exchange is the key to solve this problem. How can one put it into action?
The approach that we have taken, which is validated in 13 European ports, is to introduce a data sharing platform (see https://fathom.world/ports-walmart-tragedy-commons/) in which actors share time stamps of planned and conducted events according to a universal time stamp standard (see https://fathom.world/importance-port-call-data-standards-greater-logistics-chain/) together with adopting the principle of collaborative decision making (see https://fathom.world/ports-terminals-see-benefits-common-messaging-standards/) . We are on good way to establish both the standardized message format through the support of IALA, we have established an international PortCDM council with strong backup from major associations, and we have also developed a PortCDM maturity level framework to follow for ports that choose to develop its digital collaborative capabilities.
You want to know more, please contact:
MIKAEL LIND, Associate Professor
Research Institutes of Sweden
Mobile: +46 70 566 40 97
and/or visit the attached list of concept notes.