Smart Ports is a series of articles by The Logistics Point looking into the way ports around the world adopt digital technologies to improve their operations. In this interview Port of Montreal shares what challenges it faces, how it plans to digitise and what fluidity means for ports.
What is a ‘smart port’ and how will it improve the service you provide?
We have a strategic vision to become a leader in smart ports. We are clearly on the wind at the moment, with historically high growth rates. And, given the context with the Free Trade Agreement with Europe (CETA), we will become an even more important driver in the future.
The fluidity of our operations is therefore more important than ever. And we can not solve these congestion issues only by adding infrastructure. So we have to migrate from a traditional infrastructure provider, for trains, trucks or ships, which we are, to a digital solutions provider for the entire supply chain.
The big questions we are asking now are how can we use artificial intelligence to optimize and predict flows better? How can we use the blockchain to better secure the supply chain? How can we use virtual or augmented reality to better plan the infrastructure? We are a federal entity undergoing digital transformation.
It should be noted that the Port of Montreal represents more than 19,000 direct and indirect jobs and 2.6 billion economic spinoffs. In each container exported, there is an average of $ 40,000 in merchandise value. It is important.
How can large and small ports deal with the challenges brought up by digitalisation?
We have always chosen collaboration to improve our processes, and we apply this principle also for the deployment of our vision of innovation. We believe that by collaborating in the search for solutions and to share best practices, ports (small and large) can become even better. This is why we are very happy to have been chosen enormously since 10 years.
Asia now represents 25% of our container markets. From the point of view of innovation, we focus among others on the port-city relationship. Because beyond macro-economic considerations, the integration of the port in its environment and the challenges of fluidity are also very important and at the center of our concerns and our work in innovation.
How can ports be part of the movement to protect the environment?
A trend that will continue to impact our industry relates to how ports integrate into their social fabric, namely sustainability and social acceptability of infrastructure projects. Public expectations towards environmental standards of large port projects will only grow. Ports, as guardians of public assets, must demonstrate best practices in the field of social acceptability.
Ports must proactively manage an energy transition. ‘Decarbonizing’ the supply chain is a collective effort, but ports must act as leaders into it. And that’s what we do at the Port of Montreal.
Continue reading more stories from The Logistics Point Magazine August 2020 HERE...