Smart Ports

What are Smart Ports ?

A smart port is an automated port that uses data analytics to make the right decisions regarding various businesses and runs all the operations of a port effectively. The basic concept of smart ports is to use the smart technology to increase a port’s efficiency, improve its performance and its economic competitiveness. Implementing automated processes will not only benefit the port, but the wider supply chain, thus benefiting the whole shipping industry.

Smart Ports
Fig1 -Smart ports linking the whole wider supply chain, Credits-


For the last 50 years, the shipping industry has reinvented and improvised itself, which clearly reflects in the containerization,larger vessels and electronic data interchange. Despite these new developments the operation of the port remains tied up in the past, dependent on the manual and paper based systems.

But the global trade is not standing still, it is expanding day by day, and the vessels are expanding on a daily basis, this puts a lot of pressure on the ports and terminals, which also need continuous development and innovation just to keep up. Moreover, the worldwide globalization has facilitated huge growth in the shipping industry. It is important to cut cost in the shipping industry to maximize profit, and the smart ports facilitate this. They enable countries to import consumer goods inexpensively and export their products in a cost-effective way.

Smart Ports
Fig2- Smart ports linking the entire shipping ecosystem

Various Technologies That Come With Smart Ports:

1. INFRASTRUCTURE: There are smart sensors that help port authorities to track , operate, and maintain the physical infrastructure and facilities they manage. There are sensors that are embedded in roads, railways, and bridges when they are built, that can transmit real-time data about the operating conditions of berths and other infrastructure. Used in this way, sensors can reduce the need for annual inspections, thus saving a lot of time and labor, and provide data that helps owners schedule preventive maintenance more precisely.

2. CARGO HANDLING:   There are monitoring systems that can ensure that cranes and other cargo-handling gears are operating at their maximum efficiencies and are properly maintained, helping terminal operators handle increased volumes and improving the total production output. This system analyzes the information in real time and shares it with the terminal staff so that they can identify the operating congestion and find an appropriate solution to it.

3. TRAFFIC: Improving the efficiency of cargo transportation isn’t the only goal. Terminals also need innovative options for directing trucks and trains frequently through narrow passages as quickly as possible.  There is a system for that, known as, ‘Terminal Appointment System’. This system provides a solution , that lets trucking carriers reserve specific time slots for dropping off or picking up freight. By booking time slots in advance, appointment systems helps in minimizing turn times, thus this system helps in saving time and also improves the air quality.

4. CUSTOMS AND COLLECTIONS: This system helps in handling cargo information and payments, including the processing of trade licenses, import and export permits, and customs clearances more efficiently.This system also provides security from data tampering.f

5. SAFETY: There are surveillance systems that use advanced video analytics to detect any intrusion on the basis of movement and pattern recognition and then they alert security personnel to potential threats, so that immediate action could be taken.

6. ENVIRONMENT: Connected technologies and systems helps in reducing the power consumption and waste on ports.

Some main smart port models around the world

  1. PORT OF SHANGHAI: Shanghai is also known for the world’s largest container port. This port is all automated, with space for seven additional deep-water berths –and  docking space of  30 berths and handling capacity of 13 million TEUs.
Fig 4- Yangshan port in Shanghai,

2.  PORT OF SINGAPORE: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is the most progressive of port operators anywhere. This port has  a partnership with Finnish group Wärtsilä Corporation to develop cyber-physical security and intelligent port operations.

Fig 5- Port of Singapore,

3. PORT OF ROTTERDAM: Housed in Netherlands, Rotterdam was the largest port until the middle of the last decade.BM and Cisco have integrated their Watson IoT system and Kinetic IoT platform, respectively, in order to improve the data processing and intelligence at the network edge, and enable a path to autonomous shipping and logistics.

Fig 6- Port of Rotterdam, credits-

4. PORT OF LOS AGELES: The Port of Los Angeles (‘America’s Port’) is the largest port in the United States, and is processing about a fifth of all imports into the country.

Fig 7 – Port of Los Angeles, credits-

5. PORT OF HAMBURG: Housed in Germany is Germany’s biggest port and Europe’s third largest after Rotterdam and Antwerp. Hamburg was the pioneer for port automation long before the word ‘smart’ started to be associated with the maritime industry.

Fig 8- Port of Hamburg, Credits-

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