Digitisation and data sharing are becoming more important for Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam by the day. The data that comes together at our deepsea terminals helps to improve both our own service provision and the logistics of customers, suppliers and partners. ECT therefore considers data to be an asset that holds concrete value, explain CEO Leo Ruijs and Product Manager Digital Services Bart van Riessen*. Sharing is self-evident, but only under well-defined conditions.
For many years already, discharging and loading the container ships of deepsea shipping lines has been at the heart of ECT. However, our focus extends beyond that as well. As ECT, we aim to create a better customer experience and thus more strongly distinguish ourselves through the provision of additional services. Said services are aimed at the primary shipping line customer as well as at other customer groups. Until recently, we had no direct commercial relationship with carriers (as visitors to the terminals) and forwarders and shippers (as cargo stakeholders). The introduction of new services is gradually changing this. One example that was already initiated ten years ago is the high-frequency European rail and inland waterway transport that we organise for all parties via European Gateway Services (EGS). A more recent example is the provision of fixed windows for barges at the deepsea terminals.
Digitisation and data sharing belong in this same list of additional services.Just like cranes of AGVs, for example, ECT considers the data generated within the won company to be a concrete asset. We use this information for the provision of digital services and share data for use in third-party services. In both situations, the data holds value. This is why we make the information available in various ways. In return for financial payment, for example, or in exchange for data which allows us to operate more efficiently at ECT and thus offer better services.
In this respect, security is always a key focal point. We always make data available to a specific party on the condition that they only use the data for the purpose stipulated. Any other kind of use always requires permission. Partially for this reason, market initiatives for reliable authorisation (iShare, Secure Logistics, Portbase) can count on our active input.
A current example of digital service provision introduced by ECT itself in 2019 is MyTerminal. This subscription-based service gives logistics service providers and shippers real-time insight into the moment their containers are discharged from a deepsea ship. As a result, these parties are able to precisely plan the time of collection at our terminals. This is valuable information, particularly for time-sensitive containers carrying perishable cargo, for example. There is a great degree of interest among companies for this. For more information visit myterminal.ect.nl
Similarly, third parties are also able to offer digital services to the market using ECT data. The Port of Rotterdam Authority for example does this via BoxInsider. Shippers and logistics service providers use this service to track containers in real time. We are one of the parties that supply data to BoxInsider. The Port Authority application thus constitutes an additional outlet for data for us. And there are more services (such as OnTrack by the Port of Rotterdam Authority) and parties (such as Portbase) that are already incorporating our data.
An example of a different approach is Pronto. This application by the Port of Rotterdam Authority offers all parties involved in a port call a platform for the mutual exchange of information. All participants are consequently able to optimally plan, execute and monitor their activities surrounding a ship visit. A ship’s dwell time in the port is considerably shortened. Through Pronto, we supply shipping lines and nautical service providers with real-time data about the planning and progress of their ship operations at our terminals. In return, they provide us with data pertaining to their planned activities. All parties are able to operate more efficiently.
Based on data, we can develop focused products to organise container flows better and more smartly
The number of applications through which we make data available to the market, either as ECT or through third parties, is growing steadily. Digitisation in the logistics chain may still be in its infancy, but it is rapidly increasing. Just as it is normal for consumers to track their packages 24/7 and receive customised offers, container logistics will also move in that direction. Digitisation makes further product differentiation possible for ECT in the (near) future. Based on data, we can develop focused products to better and more smartly organise container flows. For example for prioritising truck handling at the terminals or for creating fast lanes for the collection of fresh cargo.
Many logistical processes can be improved by thinking differently and converting data into needs. Not only for visitors to our terminals, but also further down the logistics chain. For example, shippers desire increasingly more insight into and control over their logistics process. Through the sharing of data, ECT is one the parties that can help create added value for all parties involved.
Whatever new initiatives we may develop at ECT: in our capacity as a terminal operator, the deepsea shipping lines are and will continue to be our primary customers. Discharging and loading the container ships at the own deepsea terminals will always be paramount. Way before the current trend, digitisation has already been a daily occurrence between ECT and the shipping lines for about two decades. For many years, we have been providing them with a great number of different e-services. Entirely in line with the current zeitgeist, we will soon make these accessible via one contemporary MyTerminal information portal.
* As of the 1st of February, Bart van Riessen has been working at ‘Poort8’, which he founded together with three partners. Gate 8 focuses on secure and controlled data sharing in logistics and works together with ECT on information services aimed at further improving container logistics.