Port of Rotterdam embarks on digital transformation programme with IBM
The Port of Rotterdam is to become the ‘smartest port in the world’ due to a digitalisation initiative with IBM that will utilise Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in the cloud.
The multi-year digitisation programme has begun, with sensors being installed across 42km of land and sea - spanning from the City of Rotterdam into the North Sea - along the Port’s quay walls, mooring posts and roads.
These sensors will gather multiple data streams including water (hydro) and weather (meteo) data about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility.
This will enable a new wave of safer and more efficient traffic management at the port.
Data will be analysed by IBM’s cloud-based IoT technologies and turned into information that the Port of Rotterdam can use to make decisions that reduce wait times, determine optimal times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable more ships into the available space.
For example, the Port of Rotterdam will now be able to predict the best time based on water level, to have a ship arrive and depart Rotterdam, ensuring that the maximum amount of cargo is loaded on board.
With the new initiative, Port of Rotterdam operators will also be able to view the operations of all the different parties at the same time, making that process more efficient. In fact, shipping companies and the port stand to save up to one hour in berthing time which can amount to about $80,000 in savings.
“Here in Rotterdam, we are taking action to become the smartest port in the world," says Paul Smits, chief financial officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
“Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information about infrastructure, water, air, etc., we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future.”
The initiative will also prepare the Port of Rotterdam’s site to host connected ships in the future.
In a blog post, Vincent Campfens, the port’s Business Consultant, Internet of Things, Smart Infrastructure, revealed that it is using IBM IoT to create a digital twin of the port – an exact digital replica its operations that will mirror all resources at the port of Rotterdam.
“This part of our digitisation initiative will help us test out scenarios and better understand how we can improve efficiencies across our operations, while maintaining strict safety standards,” he commented.
“We process more than 140,000 ships every year and coordinating the berthing of each vessel is a complex task that involves multiple parties and must be executed safely and securely. It can take many hours. With a new digital dashboard, we will be able to view the operations of all parties at the same time and increase volume and efficiency of shipped goods that pass through the port.
“In fact, shipping companies and the port stand to save up to one hour in berthing time, which can amount to about $80,000 in savings for ship operators and enables the port to dock more ships each day.”
Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry
Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.
Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off?
How Will Japan Pay For It?
Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving.
According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option.
What Do They Plan To Do?
Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’.
As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’.
Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.