Two Reasons You Should Expand Operations Like Europe’s Second-Largest Port

Shelly Dutton

Suppose your executive team handed down an order to double operational capacity within the next 15 years. Up for the challenge? Wait a minute – there’s one small caveat: You cannot physically grow your facilities. Ready to run?

This is the reality for Europe’s second-largest HamburgerHafenLuftbildport. Located in the middle of a German metropolitan area, the Port of Hamburg connects with 950 ports in 178 countries. Not only does the port service 40,000 trucks each day, but it also processes 9 million containers each year within a confined space of 7,200 hectares. And by 2030, that capacity will increase to 18 million containers without physically expanding.

To accomplish its goal, the Port of Hamburg knew that it had to find a way to optimize its space as much as possible. How did they do it? That’s where the magic of the Internet of Things shows its true power.

The Internet of Things: Bringing optimization without physical expansion

By 2020, there will by 50 billion devices connected to each other. At the same time, more than US$1.9 trillion will contribute to the growth of supply chain and logistics value over the next decade. When you consider that less than 1% of all business data is regularly used, isn’t it time that supply chains and logistics put this information to work and optimize existing resources?

In the recent Webcast “Innovate Through IoT and Achieve Quick ROI with SAP Networked Logistics Hub,” presented by the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG), Petra Diessner, solution owner of track and trace technology at SAP, stated, “The key is to optimize not only silo, but also across the entire ecosystem – with real-time transparency.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=awvlQOrbmPU%3Flist%3DPLl04Cpd8arAV2eiMwp7EQlH9bUpfZreOn

For the Port of Hamburg, that advice meant connecting everyone in the operation: the hub operator, parking space operator, terminal operator, logistics service providers, and ship and truck operators. A combination of telematics data, map visualizations, traffic information, and hub sensor data is powering real-time collaboration and communication with direct and indirect business partners.

By consolidating all infrastructure data and transmitting it in real time through a central private cloud, the port has a clear situational picture of traffic and more-effective cargo handling across the supply chain. Truck drivers no longer spend 70% of their time, waiting for a load to arrive and tackling traffic congestion. More important, the port is giving more customers greater access to goods. As Diessner noted, “The Port of Hamburg is support 2x more cargo handling for throughput of freight forwarders.”

Two lessons every business can learn from the Port of Hamburg

So what does the Port of Hamburg’s experience mean for you? Two things:

  1. The 99% of business data you aren’t using is a goldmine of optimization potential. Every business wants to grow. To do so, many executives readily assume that means investing in additional physical operations, such as buying or building a new plant, procuring a new subsidiary, or contracting a third-party warehouse. Instead, you should first analyze that unused information you’re collecting to gain insight into how you can better optimize existing resources while encouraging business growth.
  1. The Internet of Things is the ticket to doing more with what you have. Increasingly, businesses are digitizing processes in the name of automation and setting alerts. However, the Internet of Things also delivers the ability to drive quality improvement, lower costs, and, most of all, operational efficiency. By simplifying operations and reimagining the experience of your customers, suppliers, and contractors, new business models can power new ways to serve more customers, produce more goods, extend geographic reach, and generate more revenue – all without investing in more physical resources.

For more insight on how today’s evolving tech can lead to business breakthroughs, see Big Data, The Internet Of Things, And The Fourth V.