Digitization top of mind at global ports conference

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

Port Metro Vancouver is playing host to the International Association of Ports and Harbours conference this week.

More than 400 port and maritime professionals are at the conference, which is the first meeting of the group since 2019. This year’s event is focusing on digitizing communications and processes between ship and shore.

Robin Silvester

Robin Silvester, president and CEO of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and vice-president, North American region at IAPH, welcomed delegates. “It’s great to welcome port leaders to Vancouver for our first in-person World Ports Conference since 2019, to discuss how we can work together to build our resiliency as global ports,” he said.

In a welcome address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about how global supply chains are experiencing unprecedented disruptions. He mentioned the national supply chain summit last January, which brought together Canadian stakeholders to discuss how to make the country’s connections more secure and efficient.

Patrick Verhoeven, IAPH’s managing director, said IAPH held eight regional workshops ahead of the conference. Port users in 35 different countries agreed that digitization is a possible solution to improve efficiency and connectivity at ports in the short and medium term and reduce carbon emissions and improve ports’ resilience in the long run.

“However, the overwhelming concern is that this requires a coalition of the willing between public and private stakeholders to share data, to structure data exchange globally in a uniform way, and ensure good governance with the support and involvement of governing bodies in the whole process,” he said

On Monday, at the event, the IAPH released the first issue of its new World Ports Tracker report. Data for tracker will come from ports and be exclusively for ports to use. It includes key information on warehousing capacity, call volumes and hinterland connectivity that will be combined with passenger and cargo throughput expectations.

The new World Ports Tracker’s introduction will also include data from S&P Global Port Performance reports, focusing on four container port metrics, vessel calls, the evolution of call and vessel size, and moves per hour, aggregated per region, from 2017 to 2021.

The report’s co-author, Thanos Pallis, said having both new and historical data is critical not only to a timely overview. “With careful interpretation, it can give us clues as to what will happen next, also regionally – this is what ports will obtain from our global ports tracker to react accordingly,” said Pallis.

The IAPH is an alliance of 161 port authorities and 126 port-related businesses, in 87 countries. Its members handle approximately one-third of the world’s sea trade and over 60 percent of global container traffic.