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Port of Gothenburg claims pandemic could accelerate digitalisation

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LNG Industry,

The Port of Gothenburg has released a statement claiming that the coronavirus pandemic could accelerate digitalisation in the shipping industry.

The port claims that, when physical contact between ship crewmembers and workers at the quayside needs to be kept to a minimum, new practices need to be put in place quickly.

Johan Östlund, chief officer on board the Ternvag vessel, said: “We are in a vulnerable position and we are limiting on-board access to key individuals, such as pilots and service technicians. Fortunately, we can deal with most things using computer systems and email exchange even if it takes a little longer.”’

Due to the pandemic, most ports have been forced to re-evaluate their routines. Digital tools have been a key part of the solution in an effort to maintain an efficient workflow. At the same time, it takes slightly longer at the quayside when the new routines are being introduced. Even though a great deal of the work takes place remotely during the approach, once the vessel is at the quayside, a whole range of physical interactions are normally required between the crew and the dockworkers. This could involve everything from inspecting the quality of the cargo to going through permits, safety checklists, and notices of readiness before loading or discharging.

Dan-Erik Andersson, Chief Operating Officer at the Energy Port in Gothenburg, said: “Loading and discharge are traditionally based on human contact. It’s quick and the entire system has been refined over the years. Changing the whole structure so quickly may result in a loss of time and momentum. However, by introducing new routines and new systems, and ensuring more tasks are carried out simultaneously rather than consecutively, we can probably be more efficient in the long run.”

Östlund added: “There’s obviously quite a lot of development potential for the future. It’s in everyone’s interests if calls by vessels are quick, efficient and safe.”

According to the statement, digitalisation is already a top priority at the Port of Gothenburg, and most initiatives that have been introduced already have proven to be particularly constructive during the coronavirus pandemic. The Permesso digital system, for instance, was introduced last year, and has resulted in a significant reduction in administration and face-to-face contact when issuing work permits to contactors. The automatic gates for trucks introduced by APM Terminals at the Container Terminal are another example of a more efficient operating procedure, reducing the need for physical interaction.

Malin Collin, Deputy CEO at the Gothenburg Port Authority, is responsible for the digitalisation process, and claims extensive digital changes will take place at the port in the near future.

Collin said: “This is one of the most critical issues and we have dedicated resources to finding a solution. We are currently examining how artificial intelligence can make use of historical data to predict events and speed up the decision-making process. We can improve planning through data-driven decisions, identifying trends, and predicting events. By doing so, we can create a platform for more efficient freight flows and transport movements on land and at sea.

“My impression is that the level of acceptance is rising, particularly now we are faced with the corona crisis. But someone needs to take the initiative, act as a driving force, and offer effective alternatives that more people want to adopt. At the Gothenburg Port Authority, we are only too willing to lead the way and that’s why we are devoting so much time and resources to digital development.”

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