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Terminal operators urged to standardise data for interoperability

Frank Kho.jpg
Frank Kho, ceo of Terminal Industry Committee 4.0
The global shipping terminal industry is urged to work on standardisation in order to create interoperability amidst a need to incorporate the use of new technologies and standardised data, according to a webinar panel of leading industry executives.

At the Seatrade Maritime News webinar on Digital Transformation held last Thursday, a panel of three industry executives saw an urgent need for standards to be drawn up and executed as terminal operators grapple with a growing volume and variety of data.

“The global terminal industry is coming together for the first time – big terminal operators and major suppliers have found that it is necessary to work together on standards,” said Frank Kho, ceo of Terminal Industry Committee 4.0 (TIC 4.0).

Kho has warned that the foundation of the terminal industry is still not ready to embrace the influx of new technologies as every player has built up their own way of working, creating their own sets of data that cannot be combined.

“The terminal industry is seeing all these new technologies and wants to improve their business and operation and be able to use those technologies. However, they discovered during this journey that the foundation of the terminal industry is not ready.

“For example, everybody knows the word ‘move’, but there is no clear understanding what ‘move’ means as it depends on the context, process, region, type of equipment, etc. That makes it hard to simply import data and get useful information from there. So, we need to first build a foundation before we can embrace all those new technologies and unlock their potential,” Kho explained.

Ben van Scherpenzeel,Chairman of the International Taskforce on Port Call Optimisation, shared that when a charterer charters a vessel, there is a need to know berth compatibility in both the loading and discharge ports, requiring disclosure ofdata.

“This is just a very basic example of connecting data, and we will need standards for that,” he said, adding that data can be broadly categorised into nautical data, administrative data and operational data.

“We also need to rope in standardisation bodies. If we start spending money and implementing standards, then we need to be sure that the relevant standardisation bodies will be there to maintain the standards,” he said.

James Kwan, business lead, EDM for maritime at IHS Markit, sponsors of the webinar, said he continued to observe a rather heavy use of manual processes, spreadsheets and legacy technology amongst its customers.

“Automation will be important to eliminate manual inefficiencies and to reconcile data. Data management will be important because of growing demands in the supply chain and the need for real-time decision-making,” Kwan said.

A snap survey from participants of the webinar saw 41% of them viewed data as an asset and a potential source of competitive advantage, while 48.7% said the importance of data is understood by some members of senior management and the wider business.

Only 10.3% said data is not widely valued.