TOC Day 2: Electrification and equipment replacement – the toughest nuts to crack

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TOC Europe Day 2 sessions focused on the challenges and opportunities the energy transition and digitalisation bring to the market.

The second day of TOC Europe 2024 was bustling with activity, featuring sessions that delved into the energy transition in the maritime industry, digitalisation, and the increasing importance of AI and automation solutions in port and terminal operations.

Energy transition

Today’s discussions put a spotlight on the urgent need for the sector to adopt sustainable practices holistically. The primary drivers of decarbonisation in both the shipping and port sectors are regulatory pressures, customer demands, and pushes from charterers and financiers. However, numerous challenges remain, the primary ones being cost and return on investment.

Speaking at today’s session A Holistic Approach to Energy Transition, Leticia Astudillo of Drewry Maritime Advisors highlighted the essential role that terminals play in reporting emissions. She pointed out that while many global sustainability initiatives focus on ports or the portfolios of global terminal operators, they often overlook critical terminal-specific analysis.

As explained, quantitative analysis and reporting are minimal in Global Container Terminal Operator (GCTO) sustainability reports, where lack of clarity prevents effective comparison and tracking of progress.

Astudillo also underscored the importance of Just in Time (JIT) arrivals as a vital decarbonisation measure for ports and terminals. This strategy aims to optimise vessel arrival times, reducing idle periods and minimising fuel consumption, thereby contributing significantly to emission reductions. By improving scheduling and coordination, JIT can enhance operational efficiency and support broader energy transition goals.

The industry has made significant progress over the past couple of years when it comes to decarbonisation, according to Sahar Rashidbeigi of APM Terminals.

“The conversations have matured significantly over the past three years, moving from discussions about HVO and energy optimisation levers to electrification and equipment replacement, which remains the toughest nut to crack,” Rashidbeigi noted. She added that there has been an exponential advancement in battery technology outside the industry that the OEMs don’t seem to be leveraging, keeping price premiums very high.

This is where ZEPA (Zero Emission Port Alliance) comes in, one of its main goals being to make the untethered battery/electric container handling terminal affordable and accessible by 2030.

Digitalisation and the Role of AI

Digitalisation and the integration of AI were also major themes of the day. Today’s Digitalising Maritime Trade session explored how digital technologies are transforming port and terminal operations, with AI and automation solutions increasingly adopted to boost operational efficiency, cut costs, and improve safety. These technologies enable precise data analysis, predictive maintenance, and streamlined processes, fostering a smarter, more responsive logistics chain.

The session also pointed out the findings of a recent survey showing the current state of readiness for digitalisation and information submission across maritime supply chains, with 40% of respondents being unaware of this IMO resolution, 64% still using paper and 80% stating they do not have a suitable IT application on board that enables automatic – or semi-automatic – information flows between the parties.

During the session, Laura Bercan, Digital Portfolio Owner Visibility Products, APM Terminals announced the launch of APMT’s Value Chain Innovators Program (VIP), intended for the existing or future APMT’s Shipping Line Dashboard users.

Shipping Line Dashboard is a digital tool providing real-time visibility of berth operations 24/7, containing detailed information right down to moves per hour for individual cranes. VIP, an omni-channel visibility solution for shipping lines, is available as of today.

Lifting operations safety

This demo session featured how implementing RFID technology can enhance safety across the terminal, followed by a discussion exploring the milestones and pitfalls throughout this process.

Stephan Trauth, General Manager, Mi-Jack Europe, said that the proof of concept for the Eurogate terminal has been delayed and is soon to be finalised. It will have a centralised solution through a server, with crane data and GPS as the key technologies.

According to Trauth, the main challenge during the process was the limitation of the radio frequency with only 24 channels available, but this was solved by implementing the rules on the priorities.

Trauth noted that, although competing in the market, terminals cooperate in exchanging experiences on technologies.

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