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Digitalisation of Ports is Fourth Industrial Revolution

PEMA AGM delegates. Photo: PEMA

By Aiswarya Lakshmi

The digitalisation of ports and terminal operations offers ways to realise a "fourth industrial revolution", bringing with it safety, operational, and environmental benefits, delegates heard at the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) annual general meeting, which was held in the Spanish port city of Bilbao.

Digitalisation themes that were explored during presentations included artificial intelligence, data management, cyber-physical systems, and interoperability between layers of IoT platforms - all of which are emerging as ways to improve container throughput at ports and terminals.
One of two opening speakers, José Llorca, Chairman of Puertos del Estado, stressed the importance of digitalisation in the ports sector, saying that it was: "crucial to the quality and efficiency of services, and to align [the sector] with the industrial revolution 4.0."
Keynote speakers Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, secretary general of ports body FEPORT, and Capt. Richard Brough OBE, technical advisor at ICHCA International, highlighted the broader challenges facing the ports and terminals sector.
Macro challenges discussed included regionalisation of trade flows, labour market disruption, regulatory changes, common standards for data analytics, state aid and private investment, the emergence of new business models, competitive collaboration, and sustainability.
Speakers and delegates cautioned, however, that inertia in the ports and terminals sector threatened to stymie its development.
During the procedural session of the AGM, the candidacies of Jon Sojo, Export Director, Tratos and Pietro De Michieli, COO of Bedeschi, to join the PEMA governing board for three-year terms were unanimously approved.
Sojo and De Michieli replace Michael Dempsey and Maurizio Bragagni who stepped down after the completion of their three-year tenures. Prior to the Board Elections, Bragagni, made an heartfelt speech to the General Assembly, thanking them for their support and announcing that he would not stand for re-election. Bragagni will, however, continue to play an active role in the Association.
It was also announced that Fae Brennan, PEMA Head of Administration, will replace Jon Sojo as the Chair of the 'Communications, Events & Educational Programmes' (CEEP) Committee. Established last year, the CEEP Committee combines the works and aims of the previous 'Special Events, Programmes & Education' and 'Communications & Industry Relations' committees. In 2018, CEEP Committee members will continue to develop PEMA's meetings and educational initiatives.
The Association's membership totalled 106 member companies as of January 31, 2018, delegates were told.
"With our growing membership, and increasingly diverse range of activities, PEMA is better-positioned than ever before to ensure that the port equipment and technology sectors have a clear, unified voice in the industry," Popesco said.
Progress updates were also provided on PEMA's growing range of industry initiatives and outreach activities. For example, the Association's 2018 Student Challenge will challenge entrants to develop a comprehensive business plan to reduce emissions and increase productivity at the environmentally friendly port of the future. The final brief, and competing academic institutions will be published later in the spring.

Feb 19, 2018


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