By Richard Hepworth, President, Trelleborg’s marine systems operation
Partnerships between traditional shipping operators and technology companies continue to be announced on a regular basis, demonstrating that not only has our industry recognised that it must evolve to survive but that this wholesale change is well underway. Most recently, the deal between Siemens and the Myanmar Mahar Hton Co Ltd (MMH) to equip Myanmar’s ports with cranes featuring Siemen’s technology indicates the importance of technology as a key feature in these collaborations.
Margins are tight throughout the supply chain, so finding new ways to improve productivity remains a priority. It’s easy to think we’ve heard it all before about using technology to deliver efficiency gains and to question whether it can really unlock further benefits. But it’s important not to become desensitised, the pace of technological change is so rapid and new solutions and application areas are emerging so quickly that new types of opportunities are continually created. At the same time, this can be a double-edged sword. Investing in a smart product or solution must be for the long-term if it is to truly optimise returns, therefore the ability to easily and openly update today’s technology solutions to benefit from further, and inevitable, innovation tomorrow must be planned for.
At Trelleborg, this was a fundamental part of our approach when developing SmartPort, a technology platform that connects port operations and allows users to analyse asset performance and apply data insights to improve day-to-day decision making and deliver productivity gains. For us it was important to create an open system that would help our industry achieve a standardized way to collect, store and thereby benefit from data in its myriad forms. This is why SmartPort is built around an API structure that enables collaboration with third party systems and third party assets, a step towards achieving a common platform for our industry. This openness allows customers to make more effective decisions through deeper, accurate insights across all operations, irrespective of supplier.
To be truly collaborative, technology solutions must have the ability to work across different aspects of the supply chain, whether that’s within ports and terminals, on board vessels or as they get into the landside logistics. Smart technology built around open system architecture will enable all data to be collected, stored and formatted in a common way, making it easier to analyse, identify and implement measures that enhance safety, efficiency and productivity. Now that’s true collaboration.