Without data, no logistics

A column by Ronald Paul, COO at the Port of Rotterdam Authority

A new year, means new opportunities and goals. I strongly believe that data management is a very important topic for 2014. Digitalisation is a worldwide trend that we also need to embrace at the port of Rotterdam. Without it, the logistic sector is nowhere these days. Ron Neele, addressed this subject in his column a few months ago. I’d like to exploit this opportunity to underline his plea, but take it a step further by designating it as “the fifth modality” of the port of Rotterdam.

In our daily life we constantly use data and digital facilities. I for example always buy my theatre tickets online and I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t book a hotel on the internet. It’s evident in our daily lives. So why shouldn’t it be in a port? Especially when it comes to connections, the emphasis shifts from building hardware to using software. Modern technology can make our infrastructure more efficient, when making smarter use of data. By exchanging data and smart planning and by publicly releasing information that other parties can build new applications with. For example the new E-gate application ECT recently released which contains all the information about the status of containers at the terminals.

Without data no logistics. I strongly believe that data traffic will be at least as important as the four regular modes of transport that we know (rail, road, pipeline, barge), because it is important to keep the port accessible and to make transport to the hinterland more efficient. However, the key is not just possessing data, it’s what you do with it. By sharing our data and intelligence, we can create a faster collective growth. The port of Rotterdam has a good base to take advantage of the data revolution. This century, the Port Authority already invested more than 100 million euro in its digital infrastructure. An important investment is the ultramodern port community system Portbase. As initiator and facilitator we want to encourage the use of data in the field of logistics, sustainability and safety. We do this by initiating and stimulating different projects, like for example InlandLinks, the online intermodal platform.

Economist and writer Jeremy Rifkin pleads for the port of Rotterdam to become what he calls ‘the logistics internet’, because this will manage the logistics network in the future. By connecting distribution centres and manage flows of goods. A great dream I share with him. But first thing’s first: making 2014 the year we added a fifth mode of transport.

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Would you like to know more about this subject? Please contact:

Communications & External Affairs
+31 (0)10 252 1010
Marjolein Boer
Manager Innovation

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