Port Management: Supply Chain Integration for Port Competitiveness

By Capt Gajanan Karanjikar
Multi-modal Transport expert, Independent Port Consultant

“When we talk about 'smart transportation,' it is more than moving cargo from A to B. Digitization within transport and logistics means seamless service to our customers, visibility in the supply chain, and driving a more efficient business.” – Soren Skou

When we talk about port strategy and supply chain strategy, they are two sides of same coin. In the last article we saw, how the terminals and their management, though crucial for port competitiveness, do not represent the only element in development of port policy.

The cargo evacuation becomes a another crucial and most important operations which extends the port operations to it connectivity. Although widely dependant on hinterland connectivity etc, the thoughtful planning and the other aspects of supply chain do become a part of the efficiency process. The supply chain of smart transportation would certainly add value to this, and more technological usage will make things happen for betterment.

As the quote above says- digitization and seamlessness becomes a key focus for such operations which are more than merely the extension of the port operations. A new ‘thought-changing’ technology has been developed which aims to make the coordination of container movements more efficient in the supply chain. Port efficiency is important for trade facilitation because ports are the main entry and exit points for international trade.

Port efficiency impacts organizations throughout the supply chain—suppliers, manufacturers, logistics service providers (LSPs), freight forwarders, cargo shipping lines and others. Everyone can benefit from greater insight into how ports work. We’ll explore some of the problems with the current port system and discuss possible solutions to help streamline port and downstream supply chain operations.

All seaports are described as elements in SCs that should increasingly align their business along shippers’ requirements. There is something called as shipper driven logistics strategy. . Transport and logistics operators as well as port actors were forced to adapt accordingly, integrating vertically and horizontally, increasing the range of services provided as well as its geographic coverage of conditions of higher service quality and lower prices per unit along the entire SC.


 Therefore seaports represent critical nodes in maritime SCs. The reasons include, for example, their role as interfaces between sea and land-based transport modes, the multitude of logistics services provided or the trade function for the port region. For shippers, seaports therefore provide opportunities to ‘tune’ their SC operations. However, they potentially can also pose threats to shippers’ SCs when for example SC disruptions occur, such as the 2002 US West coast port lockout

The streamlining of supply chains through customization and standardization using advances in data analytics and visibility leads to concepts such as “plug-and-play supply chains”. These are finely-tuned, agile supply chains consisting of core standardized, easily replicable solutions, augmented by standardized, proven processes tailored to unique segment or market needs. These supply chains need to be supported by digitalization involving intelligent, data-driven decision support systems around customers, markets, and profitability.

The port and logistics research community discovered the topic ‘ports in transport and Supply Chains’ at the beginning of the 21st century. Research in the port SCM domain included work on the integration potential of port operators in car manufacturing SCs , new approaches to port performance measurement integrating SC indicators, insights on terminal SC integration as well as the development of port-centric logistics concepts.

(Courtesy: Marex Media)

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