[ID] => 10371
[post_author] => 5714
[post_date] => 2018-11-21 15:04:12
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-21 15:04:12
[post_content] => Intermodal Europe once again took place at the Ahoy Rotterdam, where companies in the container shipping and intermodal transport sectors came together for an exciting exhibition and conference taking place over three days between 6 and 8 November. In recent years, a heavy focus has been placed on digitisation in the dangerous goods industry and the container and intermodal industries are no exception. The conferences opened up the floor to talks on smart shipping and logistics, covering topics such as smart ports and platform collaboration, as well as the future of the digital supply chain as a whole. Sessions centring on Inland waterways as well as a Rotterdam-focused forum also gave insight into various facets of the industry.
“Intermodal Europe 2018 was a huge success this year in Rotterdam,” says Sophie Ahmed, director of Intermodal Events. “We received the highest number of attendees on record with visitors coming from more than 90 different countries across the global container supply chain.”
The first day’s conference sessions emphasised the importance of embracing digitisation, with a particularly interesting discussion taking place in the afternoon on the benefits of a digitally enabled supply chain. Rolf Neise, a visiting professor from the International School of Management (ISM), spoke about the advantages that such an infrastructure can offer.
A digital supply chain enables full end-to-end visibility in the first instance, with real-time information and synchronicity being key benefits. Neise spoke about the maritime industry and the pressures it faces, as well as the untapped potential that remains hidden in the maritime container transportation chain. From the shipper’s perspective, the current supply chain model is unable to offer bespoke services, has no buildable foundation for an e-commerce market and is simply unable to provide visibility and predictability along the supply chain. Additionally, it is obvious that there is no functional system in place for collaboration with shipping partners, making the entire process much more fragmented than it should be.
A key question that Neise posed was: why is there a desperate need for collaboration? Fundamentally, he said, there is a lack of internal knowledge among the container shipping industry, with some companies thriving while others are falling at the wayside due to a simple lack of transparency when it comes to new technologies, process improvements and valuable industry solutions. Through collaboration, both horizontally between competitors and non-competitors, and vertically between customers, service providers and suppliers, the industry is far more likely to thrive. A collaborative effort will enable continuous improvement of services at all levels and will bring together the industry’s vision for the future as a whole.
It is clear that these necessary changes will come about through the adoption of new technologies and the development of mutual trust within the industry, but a certain change in mind-set will be vital if the industry is to progress beyond where it is now.
The focus on digitisation within the industry doesn’t stop with shippers. Raghavendran Viswanathan, CEO of FreightBro, spoke about digitisation in logistics and why it is vitally important for both freight forwarders and the industry as a whole. Even now, a lot of freight forwarding processes are manual with no standardisation in communication between forwarding parties. This, coupled with a lack of transparency in pricing and shipment statuses has led to price volatility and increased risk in the market.
Entering this ‘new era of freight’ requires a certain level of forward-thinking. FreightBro has created a revolutionary digital platform for freight forwarders and carriers that enables users to quote, book, manage, track and analyse shipments and operations. Digital cloud-based platforms like these are the future of the industry, bringing together global freight agents, surface transporters, warehouse owners and shipping lines into a single location. Relatively simple to implement and extremely cost-effective, it is expected that the industry will be seeing a surge in the uptake of cloud-based technologies like that offered by FreightBro.
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is slowly proving its worth within the shipping container and intermodal industries. One of the biggest problems that all container operators face is the repositioning of empty boxes and tanks. Asparuh Koev, CEO and founder of Transmetrics, spoke about the use of machine learning in empty container logistics optimisation. Typically, 35 to 40 per cent of total container fleets are kept in ‘working stock’, that is to say, the portion of stock that is kept available for the normal demand during a given period. By keeping a higher than necessary proportion of stock available but not in use, it will have a negative impact on a company’s operational EBITDA and ROCE. The solution to this, according to Koev, is a predictive optimisation system that utilises machine learning.
By using a predictive system, a transport management system can use historic data to forecast demand up to 12 weeks in advance. The system also takes public holidays and other external factors into account in order to supply up-to-date empty positioning instructions to shipping line staff. This form of AI takes a full cost model of the business and makes decisions based on storage costs, grading costs and much more, tailored specifically to each location.
“For the shipping lines, the main benefit is that they can get rid of some of the unused containers, which would lead to an immediate cash injection for container owners or to the reduction of the leasing/renting costs,” says Koev. “This can be an immediate cost saving in the millions because even a medium-sized shipping line can get rid of thousands of containers. Another benefit is that fewer containers means lower storage costs because you keep the right level of working stock and therefore do not have to overpay for the storage of unnecessary containers. At the same time, with fewer containers, there is a lower cost of maintaining, repairing, upgrading and moving, which leads to lower costs on an ongoing basis. For the customers it would mean that the containers are at the right and convenient location wherever and whenever they need them. This means that they will always have exactly the type of container they need at the nearest depot. Additionally, they will not have to make the booking very far in advance in order to reserve the containers; it would generally increase the trust between shipper and transporter in the supply chain.”
A WIRELESS WORLD
Not only are smart shipping and logistics making waves in the industry, but smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also finding their way into the container shipping sector. Smart containers and wireless IoT telematics devices provide intelligent capabilities that have hitherto not been seen in this capacity. Current TMSs require the individual barcode attached to each container to be scanned before an update is logged on the system. Should a barcode not get scanned for any reason, vital updates can be missed, and shipments have the potential to be lost in transit as a result of human error. Wireless telematics such as LoRa create a network of connected devices that can – if desired – be monitored throughout a container’s entire journey through the supply chain, without the need for human intervention. Early adopters of the technology are pulling far ahead in the industry with more players entering the market all the time.
The real ROI on these devices is not in the hardware but in the analytics, automated process synchronisation and integration that the devices and accompanying software can provide. “Real-time analytics solutions depend on the IoT for gathering the data they require,” said Michael Dempsey, vice-president container and port solutions at ORBCOMM. “In the beginning, IoT was all about providing real-time visibility of devices and equipment that would otherwise be dumb, dark and disconnected. Enhanced visibility of operations enabled managers to identify problems as they occurred and to quickly deploy corrective measures, automate processes to minimise spending and human error, and optimise asset utilisation to drive up profitability.
“The nature of the information, however, was mainly transactional or reactive, and analytics were only applied to a small portion of the available data,” Dempsey continued. “Today, analytics process large amounts of live and historical data collected by IoT technology, making it possible for businesses not only to identify the current status of operations, but to predict what can go wrong in the future and identify which processes may break down in order to plan ahead. The ability to mitigate potential issues before they occur is already having an enormous impact on how business operate and driving a significant return on investment. Analytics has a huge potential for transportation and the supply chain.”
Europe’s inland waterways are full of untapped potential, with London’s River Thames a prime example, according to Peter Binham, principal city planner at Transport for London. In his presentation, Binham spoke about freight traffic in London, which makes up approximately one-third of all morning peak traffic. London, a growing city with rapidly reducing road capacity, attributes 80 per cent of road freight to van traffic, coincidentally the only motorised mode of transport forecast to grow in London.
In an effort to increase river transport in London, developments are focusing on larger barges in an attempt to move freight off the roads, aligning with several initiatives not only to reduce congestion in cities but also reduce air pollution from freight vehicles. Transport along inland waterways is something that is being promoted around the world, with the bulk of the push coming from a sustainability standpoint. Binham referenced Vision Zero, an initiative being taken up by many major cities around the world to eliminate deaths and serious injuries resulting from road traffic accidents. London’s mayor has laid out plans to eradicate all deaths and serious injuries on London roads by 2041. Binham also spoke about the environmental impact of reduced road transport and its direct impact on London’s goal to be a zero-carbon city by 2050.
A session hosted by the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT), focused on the concrete and practical ways in which reliability of inland chains can be efficiently enhanced. The SELIS project, supported by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 programme, aims to deliver a platform for pan-European logistics applications by establishing a strong consortium of logistics stakeholders and ICT providers.
“Whereas we are all different stakeholders, a common denominator among us is the increasing pressure for the deployment of innovative solutions for responsive, customised and sustainable freight transport service throughout Europe,” said Nicolette van der Jagt, director-general of CLECAT. “Synchromodality builds on co-modality; recognising the need to further improve the efficiency of the transport chain with a special focus on hinterland connections. As such, synchromodality creates more efficient transport services that are more responsive to customers’ current and future needs, particularly in view of a forecast increase in freight volumes. Maintaining flexibility throughout the supply chain will become increasingly important as businesses continue to move towards ‘just in time’ delivery and lean business models.”
The final day of the event was dedicated solely to the Rotterdam-focused forum. The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe and the ninth largest worldwide. “One of the bigger challenges facing us is the huge volume of containers,” said Roy van den Berg, project developer at the Port of Rotterdam. “As the largest port in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam has to find out how to bundle and to do it as effectively as possible. The new port area has two additional container terminals – trains can’t go to all terminals in the port area in one go. Bundled volumes need to be provided so a train can be loaded and unloaded at one or two locations. Barges are more flexible but more coordination is necessary here. Sharing information and data is key to realising this and in creating more efficient supply chains.”
Looking forward, the port aims to become the smartest digital port, delivering digital solutions, data services and support – aptly named Port Forward. The port’s digital business solution details fully operational services for planning, booking, tracking, analytics and orientation. To make this possible, the port is using a variety of products such as Portmaster, an online port management system; Pronto, a planning, executions and monitoring software for shipping companies, agents and terminals; and Navigate, which allows ports to visualise their entire network of connections. According to the company, Port Forward represents a phased approach using ‘smart port-specific software’ to achieve an increasingly higher maturity level.
Speaking about the future of Intermodal Europe, Ahmed adds: “for 2019 and beyond, Intermodal Europe will continue to be the leading platform for the global container shipping market; a platform to showcase new innovation and solutions, and to bring the market together to facilitate business.”
Intermodal Europe 2019 will be held in November 2019 in Amsterdam. More information will be available shortly via the event’s website, www.intermodal-events.com.
[post_title] => Intermodal Europe: Future-proof
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[post_name] => intermodal-europe-future-proof
[post_modified] => 2018-11-27 15:06:13
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