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Port of Hamburg Sets Sail for the Future with IoT Platform

Feature Article | May 14, 2015 by Andreas Schmitz

After the Hamburg Port Authority, SAP, T-Systems, and DAKOSY spent three and a half years perfecting the technology and testing the pilot, in November 2014, the services offered on the smartPORT logistics Internet of Things (IoT) platform were finally opened up to participants in the Port of Hamburg’s transport chain.

The Port of Hamburg handles gargantuan volumes of cargo. As many as 8,000 trucks pass through the port every day to deliver and pick up containers. The faster the turnover, the better for everyone involved. Not least the Port of Hamburg, which needs to shape up for some tough challenges ahead.

By 2025, the Hamburg Port Authority expects to be handling over 18 million cargo containers every year, which is double the figure recorded for 2014. Consequently, there will be an even greater number of trucks maneuvering their way around the port’s already congested road network in the future. And with no space to expand the current surface area of approximately 7,200 hectares, there is only one way forward.

“We need to make sure that we use the infrastructure we have as efficiently and intelligently as possible,” says Sascha Westermann, IT traffic strategist at the Port of Hamburg and head of intermodal traffic management at Hamburg Port Authority, as he formulates his mission for the coming years.

On the technical side, this will be achieved with a solution called smartPORT logistics (SPL), which is a co-production between SAP, which supplies real-time technology via SAP HANA Cloud Platform, Deutsche Telekom, which is responsible for the telematics systems, and logistics specialist DAKOSY.

“Fleet management” is one of the services that were opened up to participants in the Port of Hamburg’s transport chain last November. Forwarding agents pay a monthly fee based on the services they use in return for information about when their trucks arrive at and leave the container terminal, while truck drivers log onto their tablets for information about the best routes to take to avoid traffic jams and keep waiting times to a minimum.

Truck drivers log onto their tablets for information about the best routes to take to avoid traffic jams and keep waiting times to a minimum. There will be four new releases of the software every year. "The latest version of the software, which is due to ship at the end of May, will give us access to an even broader audience," explains HPA's Westermann, who hopes to expand the existing customer base for the product. Graphic: T-Systems

Truck drivers log onto their tablets for information about the best routes to take to avoid traffic jams and keep waiting times to a minimum. There will be four new releases of the software every year.

There will be four new releases of the software every year.

“The latest version of the software, which is due to ship at the end of May, will give us access to an even broader audience,” explains Westermann, who hopes to expand the existing customer base for the product.

SPL tracks data about truck positions, vacant parking spots, congestion at the cargo terminals, traffic jams, raised bridges, and accidents – giving the Hamburg Port Authority’s port road manager a bird’s eye view of the traffic situation right across the port premises. Freight planners, parking-lot operators, and forwarding agents are given role-based access to the platform and therefore only receive information that is relevant to them.

So, for instance, when a truck driver passes a geo-fence, the information displayed on his or her tablet refers specifically to that particular zone of the port and specifically to truck drivers. Similarly, freight planners can check their screens to pinpoint the location of each truck in the fleet and, thanks to the SAP Fiori user interface, see only the information that is relevant to their role. It’s a win-win situation for everyone concerned — for the truck drivers, who save perhaps five or 10 minutes on each trip; for their managers; for the freight planners, who get more cargo turned over; and ‒ last but not least – for the port road manager, who can analyze the traffic situation in the port faster than ever before with the help of SAP HANA in-memory technology.

From EU project to viable business case

“The business benefits of SPL are now patently clear,” says Westermann, who can still recall the early days of the project nearly four years ago. Stakeholders were identified for the project soon after it kicked off in 2011, and the finished product is now attracting interest from all over the world.

But Westermann’s top priority is still the Port of Hamburg, not least because Hamburg will be playing host to the World Ports Conference, a major podium for innovations in the port industry, in June of this year. Forwarding agents and parking-lot operators were involved in the project from the get-go. Various container terminal operators have come on board in the meantime, and negotiations are currently underway with companies who specialize in chassis and empty container storage rental.

One thing is clear, the more parties who use the system actively, the easier it will be to fully exploit the potential of SPL, reduce waiting times for trucks, and avoid traffic jams in and around the Port of Hamburg.

Top image: Shutterstock

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