The smartPORT logistics team, incorporating specialists from Hamburg Port Authority, SAP, and Deutsche Telekom, is collaborating with new partners to integrate a constantly growing volume of third-party data into its cloud application. Because, in a nutshell, more data means more efficient port-side and land-side freight movement.
Covering an area of 7,200 hectares, the Port of Hamburg handles an average of around 10,000 ships and 9 million cargo containers every year. It is a major employer in the region, directly and indirectly providing about 156,000 jobs — at trucking companies; tea, coffee, and carpet traders; ocean carriers; and many more. As such, its economic impact is significant and extends well beyond the local area.
Container volume set to increase 150% by 2025
According to economic forecasts, the Port of Hamburg is expected to develop significantly in the coming years. In fact, Sascha Westermann, who is head of intermodal operational traffic management at Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), anticipates that the port will be handling 25 million cargo containers by 2025, a whopping increase of 16 million on today’s figure. Compared with its northern European competitors, the Port of Hamburg currently ranks second (with Antwerp) in terms of annual cargo turnover – behind Rotterdam (12 million containers) and ahead of Bremerhaven (6 million). Hamburg’s current cargo turnover of nine million containers is double the figure recorded in 2000.
The main challenge facing the port in the coming years will be compensating for a lack of space to expand. “We can’t increase the port’s surface area at all, so we need to look at ways to become more efficient in the space that we have available,” explains Westermann.
This was the idea behind the Aquarius Initiative, which was launched in 2011. Working with container trucking company Stapelfeldt, logistics specialist and parking lot operator Hoyer, the ADAC motoring association, implementation partner T-Systems, and software partner SAP, HPA began developing a system that would optimize the port-side traffic flow and thus allow HPA to grow its revenues and cargo turnover rates despite being unable to expand its surface area.
Parking information direct from SAP HANA Cloud Platform to Samsung tablets
The initiative, now known as “smartPORT logistics”, leverages SAP HANA Cloud Platform. Early on in the project, T-Systems and SAP fed data provided by trucking companies and parking-lot operators into an in-memory database from SAP so that, for example, truck drivers can now log onto their Samsung tablets to receive direct information about the current parking situation at the port. As a result, waiting times are shorter, trucking companies can plan their routes more effectively, and communication is easier — particularly for the truck drivers.
The next step in the project is to extend the current circle of data sources and participants to include slot information about the location of cargo ships and containers, additional trucking companies and port operating firms, initial container terminal operators, and so on.
The more information that the cloud solution from SAP can process per second, the easier it is for HPA to manage and optimize cargo handling in the port.
Port traffic strategist Sascha Westermann wants an accurate picture of the traffic situation at all times, so that he and his colleagues can answer vital questions quickly: When do we need to close bridges to allow cargo ships to pass through? What’s the best way to divert traffic to avoid jams? Where are free parking spots available? How can we minimize disruptions caused by construction work? Which slots are available at short notice at the container terminals?
“Faster goods turnover is our goal”
HPA, whose responsibilities include ensuring that rail, road, and sea traffic flows as smoothly as possible in and around the port, is primarily looking to increase goods turnover, says Westermann. He believes that there is still enormous potential for development within the Port of Hamburg. “I’m confident that there are plenty of port stakeholders whose services would benefit from running on the SAP HANA platform,” he says.
Currently, the Smart Logistics initiative is looking for additional pilot partners in and around ecosystems like the Port of Hamburg. The smartPORT logistics team, comprising specialist personnel from HPA, logistics IT service provider DAKOSY, Deutsche Telekom, and SAP, is busy preparing to increase the number of users working with HPA’s cloud application. The plan is for more truck drivers and “mobile units” to access the system. Interlinking their current position and destination with third-party data will make yet more valuable traffic-related information available. And, the more data is available, the easier it will be to efficiently manage and control the traffic situation and flow in the port area.
The unique advantage of cloud technology for software “rookie” HPA is that it can access additional applications quickly and easily through a Web interface to the smartPORT logistics solutions. And, because its users access services directly from the cloud, HPA does not need to concern itself with the effort of setting up or running its own server farm.
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