Open Innovation Solution for Container Ship Challenges

Published Dec-31-18

A new tool to better predict the estimated time of arrival of container ships.

Antwerp Port Authority, Belgium

The Story:

Open Innovation Solution for Container Ship Challenges A big cause of concern for the container shipping industry is there is no accurate way to predict the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of container ships. Among the reasons why are ETAs not being updated and their deviating widely large from reality. This makes it extremely difficult for stakeholders to plan activities such as transporting products to their intended destinations. And if ships are late they can cost ports and companies a lot of money.

To bring some fresh and radical thinking to bear on this problem and others the ports of Antwerp and Los Angles turned to open innovation and invited innovators to take part in the chainPORT hackathon in October 2018.

“We want to be prepared for the future, with a port where smart technologies are deployed so that operations at sea and on land can be carried in a smarter, smoother and more efficient manner,” said Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Antwerp Port Authority.

“We are continuously working toward that goal ourselves but also call on partners as much as possible the capitalize on their insight and know-how. This hackathon, which is open to anyone who wanted to think along with us, is a concrete case in point.”

Addressing Challenges

More than 400 people divided into teams and worked on their creative solutions for three days and two nights. Among the challenges they looked at were:

• Addressing mobility challenges around the port area.
• Improving safety and security, especially with regards to one of the biggest
challenges faced by the port of Antwerp - cocaine smuggling.
• Improving the exchange of data between ports all over the world.

Winning Solution

The overall winning team, from a company called Rombit developed a solution for the optimization of the specified estimated time of arrival. They picked up a check for €5,000 (approx. $USD 5,000). Few details were available about what their solution entailed but the Antwerp Port Authority commentated that while many have tried to tackle ETA inaccuracies in the past, Rombit approached the problem in a unique way.

Among the benefits of more accurate ETA predictions are better planning of barge, truck and train schedules, better planning at ports (such as allocating berthing space) and less idle times for ships in port owing to optimization in container terminal operations.
The port of Antwerp is now going to be working with the winning team to develop their innovative tool.

Erwin Verstraelen added: “Many creative and innovative ideas were presented today, but this one clearly stood out for us. Their solution for the optimization of the specified ETA can make a concrete contribution to a future-proof port.

“We will get down to work together with them to develop their idea further and put it into practice.”

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