Ports and terminals: The missing element for full optimization

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Ports and terminals are the gateway for trade. A port that is resourceful can handle cargo more efficiently, impacting the overall progression and growth of businesses and industries. Investments in automation and modernization of equipment have brought several gains in terms of operational efficiencies. But, beyond the investments in tangible assets, there is a key aspect that can be taken advantage of, the access to complete data at the right time.

Complementing investment in infrastructure modernization, the next step is to invest in technology to take advantage of the availability of data.

Worst hotel stay, ever

Due to the industry sharing data very late, if a port or terminal was a hotel, it probably would have a few bad customer reviews online. Can you imagine if a hotel only knew a few hours before the guests arrive how many are coming and how long they are staying? What if the guests had special requirements in terms of accommodation? Now imagine that they are all arriving together in a double-decker bus and trying to check-in one by one forming huge queues in the reception. Then, several of them try to check out as fast as possible with their cars out front of the hotel, creating traffic congestion.

No matter how well equipped with technology this hotel is, it would probably turn into a chaos. Not to mention customer frustration with the lack of preparation to handle bookings which were placed early in advance. Achieving maximum of efficiency with late information is very difficult. And this is similar to some of the challenges faced by terminals and ports today.

Only as fast as the weakest link

As in the hotel mentioned above, information to the port and terminals about containers arriving is only available a few hours before the actual ship docks. Knowledge about container specifications, size and requirements are not known in advance. Visibility into the route it will be taking afterwards, in case of a transshipment or inland transportation, is not always clear. Sophisticated equipment can be in place to handle containers when when they arrive, but any operation will be constrained in terms of planning by information that is coming late in the process. Gaining cost efficiency by reducing the number of moves needed and optimizing yard planning will always be a difficult task in this scenario.

Beyond that, ports are not only about the docking ships. Stakeholders in the entire ecosystem must work together and are dependent on each other for the information flow. By optimizing operations and improving real-time easily available information, all members of the ecosystem contribute to a better operation on the impacted parties. The gains of this improved communication cascade to all other entities involved in this journey, where collaboration is key to a logistics chain that runs smoothly.

End-to-end visibility levels the field

Helping in the transformation of information flow to ports and terminals is one of the goals of TradeLens. Advance visibility coming in from the platform can help several aspects of ports and terminal optimization. Information about any shipment that will pass via the port is accessible as early as a booking is placed. Structured information received in near real-time allows the entity to keep receiving dynamic updates on the status of the booking, updates to the estimated arrival timelines, and any changes to the transportation plan.

Data that was previously incomplete is now shared in a structured way allowing full visibility of a container’s journey, end-to-end and across all involved parties. And, as a contributor member to the ecosystem, all the information is accessible for ports and terminals with no cost.

Ports and terminals today are in a constant journey to improve quality, increase productivity and lower costs in order to compete on the international stage. Learn more about how TradeLens can support you to achieve this goal.

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