With SmartPort we investigate how we can make the port future proof with respect to logistics, infrastructure, energy and industry. We do this based on the issues posed by companies. We put companies in touch with science, knowledge institutes and the government. Moreover we ensure that the scientific knowledge gained from this research is not only channelled back to these collaborating companies, but that it is also accessible for all companies in the port of Rotterdam. This enables them to anticipate and innovate. The research focuses on long term prognoses, 2030 to 2050. We’re looking particularly at trends emerging as a result of the energy transition, digitisation and automation and climate change.
Data is the new gold
A smart port is a port with vision, that thinks and operates in an integrated way, and looks further than its own organisation. A port with companies that develop new business models. Digitisation and automation demand this and this will have tremendous impact on processes and therefore also on companies. The party that has the right data is sitting on a gold mine. If we want to become a smart port, we need to ensure that data are available from the right neutral party and are disseminated securely and in the right way. And that the data can be used for research and to accelerate innovations in business processes and products.
This means we’ll immediately need to address a dilemma, as the crucial question concerns who will be responsible for collecting these data and making these available. As a port you cannot sit and wait until this is organised as you’d be side-lined. It is important that we create a structure now regarding who should organise and manage these data. In my opinion a market party shouldn’t be in charge on its own, as commercial interests will then take precedence over the collective interests. I think the independent government or a combination of public and private parties should take on the governing role. This will ensure availability and security.
Glaciers and bridges
SmartPort looks beyond the port of Rotterdam’s geographical borders. Companies’ chain activities in the port of Rotterdam don’t end at the port boundary. Our links with research institutes and market parties mean we have all the required expertise in-house. And yet some projects are a quest. It’s clear that a certain development is getting closer and will have impact. Not tomorrow or next year, but certainly in the coming decades. But most companies do not have a sense of urgency when it involves such a time period. This makes it difficult to get them involved in the SmartPort research, which means that a research project doesn’t get off the ground. Then it’s important that you make adjustments or wait for the right moment. External factors can play an accelerating role in this.