Logistics chain is shaken pro tem

Ports are no more the maritime hubs for shipping activities only; they have been transmogrifying themselves into service centres to culminate into the logistics epicentres. Indrajit Singh, General Manager for Ports and Logistics, Envision Enterprise talks about challenges and the way forward.

CT Bureau

What are the present challenges in ports and terminals?
Ports have been advancing on mechanisation, digitisation and automation pathway. But given its huge scale of operations, multiple parties transacting with each other and asset intensiveness, ports today are facing the challenges of visibility, transparency and responsiveness. Visibility of not just the cargo and the services provided but also all the operations and logistics associated to it along with financials and responsiveness not just on landside activities of stockyards, gate, dock operations, flotilla and crane operations but also on seaside activities of vessel forecasting, berth planning and utilisations, harbour manoeuvres and safety of marine assets.

Moreover, some of the ports are still not fully computerised and hence dealing with papers. Adding the woes is the ongoing COVID-19; this medical emergency has squatted well on the ports industry diminishing the number of vessels and hence eating up the revenues. While the revenue from the liners remains the single largest source of making good the port costs, sails are not windward or leeward and hence leading to perilous times. When airports across the panorama have seen larger transformations with IATA guidelines, the seaports and maritime business are fragmented to some extent with not so effective Hague-Visby rules and Hamburg rules. The challenges remain but that is the single source of driving efficiency in ports and terminals.

What solutions are you offering to trade to deal with the current challenges?
We started with the pain-points industry is reeling under, innovated the software solution called iPortman of mechanisation, automation and digitisation for the seaports considering its market suitability, technical viability and user-friendliness. We have been offering a complete range of intelligent solutions of POS (port operating system), TOS (terminal operating system), CFS (container freight station) and PCS (port community system) solutions best suited for major to minor ports and large to small terminals for all cargo types, all through the flagship solution of iPortman. Our customers had the waves of digital revolution and realised the never-earned revenues with Envision solution of iPortman, they have become responsive and efficient simultaneously in meeting their challenges, their ability to manage and operate all the port assets have increased manifold with increased visibility, transparency and utilisation levels. Our port automation capability has enabled operators to monitor all operations in real time, track delays, address them and improve overall operating margins.

How do you see the post COVID-19 scenario? Do you expect the industry to be more organised?
We shall see the continued slump in the volumes at the ports for next half of the year. The recuperation won’t be speedy, the bleeding won’t stop suddenly and the losses would take years to heal. 40 per cent of the ports globally have seen an average slump of 15 per cent in volumes, few of them have seen over 25 per cent and blank sailings are record high.

Even though many ports are in trouble, post COVID-19 will be the times ports would realise the full-blown impact of the outbreak. However, the ports have learnt to survive the hard way, the inertia shaken has already made them more flexible, coerced them to find newer distribution channels and alternative ways of serving carriers and hence will keep their machineries fuelled.