- IBM will install IoT sensors, AI technology, and use smart weather data to help the Port of Rotterdam become safer and more efficient.
- The digitization of the port will allow for autonomous ships, "as well as process and ship metal 3-D-printed ship components on demand in future," according to a press release emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
- IBM and the Port of Rotterdam say the digitization will save shipping companies "up to one hour in berthing time, which can amount to about $80,000 per hour in savings."
With more than 461 million tons of cargo and 140,000 ships coming and going through the Port of Rotterdam annually, the cost savings for shipping companies using the revamped port could be enormous, especially since the port is the largest in Europe by volume of tonnage circulated each year.
Not only will the port become more competitive, but IBM may dramatically increase its efficiency rates, which means more cost savings and wider profit margins in the long run.
As Paul Smits, chief financial officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said in the press release, speed and efficiency are two of the most important virtues for any port. That's what attracts more business and allows higher volumes to circulate through the port.
While Supply Chain Dive is still waiting to get specifics about the project and how much it will cost, it is evident IBM will create a "digital twin" of the Port of Rotterdam, according to an exclusive IBM blog post written by Vincent Campfens, a business consultant with the port.
It will be "an exact digital replica of our operations that will mirror all resources at the port of Rotterdam, tracking ship movements, infrastructure, weather, geographical and water depth data with 100% accuracy. This part of our digitization initiative will help us test out scenarios and better understand how we can improve efficiencies across our operations, while maintaining strict safety standards."
Besides the new smart initiative, the port has also launched a new R&D facility to explore 3-D printing as an additive manufacturing tool in the shipping space. That new facility has 30 partners, according to the port.
This new partnership between IBM and the Port of Rotterdam is combining most of the new, buzzy technologies and investing time, labor and capital into creating a "smart port" that hints at the future of shipping.
While such a radical digital transformation is currently unprecedented in the ocean shipping industry, it may be just the tip of the iceberg as the industry works aggressively to overcome the bumpy waves (like industry consolidation and unstable ocean rates) and become more profitable.