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Revisiting the debate over standards

TOC Europe kicks off in Rotterdam next week with a session on defining standards to help the industry transition to industry 4.0.

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Executives from the container terminal industry and the wider container supply chain will gather in Rotterdam next week for TOC Europe, the leading conference and trade fair for anyone involved in the business of lifting, moving and monitoring containers.


The TECH TOC stream of the conference focuses on container terminal operations, and is free to attend. It will be my pleasure to open this event by moderating a session on the TIC 4.0 initiative and defining standards for Industry 4.0.


“TIC” stands for the Terminal Industry Committee, a body formed last year by members from FEPORT (the Federation of European Private Port Companies and Terminals) and members from PEMA (the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association). TIC 4.0 is a bold attempt to bring suppliers and terminal operators together to develop definitions and terminology around the process of handling containers, with a view to defining standards, formats and protocols for connecting systems.


Standards might not sound as exciting as AI, big data and autonomous vehicles, but the lack of standards is identified time and time again as one of the main issues implementing new technology, including automation, in container terminals. Despite what some vendors claim nothing is “plug and play” in container handling equipment and systems, and there are no standards around interfaces and protocols for connecting software and systems today.


The result is that terminals implementing automation systems have to define their own protocols and interfaces, which adds time, complexity and cost to these projects. Equipment suppliers have expressed frustration at having to reinvent the wheel for different customers trying to implement a selection of technology from different suppliers.


For the past 12 months TIC 4.0 has been tackling the issue of how to develop a standards framework that benefits both terminal operators and suppliers, while at the same time facilitating competition and choice in the market. Three speakers from TIC: Luisa Kempf, Site Director Technical Services Hamburg at Eurogate, Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid the Secretary General of FEPORT and Frank Kho, Senior Advisor at Kho Management, will discuss how TIC is tackling the problem, and outline its progress so far, including results from pilot projects.


TIC has received good support from terminal operators and equipment OEMs, but the push for standards will be more effective if more terminal operators get onboard and start to demand it.


Come along to TOC Europe at 10.30am on Tuesday, 18 June to find out more.

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