In the ever-evolving landscape of global trade and transportation, digitalisation and automation offer transformative solutions to enhance the efficiency, sustainability, and resilience of port operations. The recent joint event, titled "Innovating Port Logistics Operations: An Interactive Symposium on Automation and Digitalisation," powered by the EU-funded projects AWARD, MultiRELOAD, and FOR FREIGHT, served as an insightful platform to engage into discussions covering the future-oriented solutions proposed by these groundbreaking projects.

Setting the Stage

Róbert Rafael, General Manager of Pro Danube, representing MultiRELOAD, assumed the role of moderator, guiding the audience through a multifaceted exploration of automation and digitalisation in port logistics. The event opened with an exploration of the benefits, challenges, and opportunities presented by these technological advancements. Foremost among the benefits are cost reduction and a diminished environmental footprint, underscoring the need of integrating innovative solutions into port operations.

Project Presentations: Showcasing Achievements and Progress in AWARD, MultiRELOAD, and FOR FREIGHT

The symposium kick-offed with project presentations highlighting the achievements and progress of AWARD, MultiRELOAD, and FOR FREIGHT. Loha Hashimy of Enide discussed the AWARD project's focus on automating port logistics. Achim Klukas from Fraunhofer IML followed, presenting the MultiRELOAD project and its demonstrator aiming to optimise loading and unloading processes in inland port terminals by addressing the challenge of accurate input data, specifically the position of loading units on rail wagons. By utilising sensors, camera technology, and European GNSS, the system aims to precisely determine the position of loading units. Machine learning processes will then optimize the loading sequence based on this data, improving the routes of handling equipment and reducing effort per handling operation. The overall goal is to enhance efficiency and reduce operational costs in inland port terminals. Dr. Orestis Manos of ICT Solutions represented the FOR FREIGHT project, highlighting the project's core objective: to maximise the utilisation of freight transport capacity, achieve competitive sustainability with higher levels of efficiency, and reduce the average cost of freight transport through the development of novel solutions and their integration with legacy logistics systems. Each presentation emphasised substantial advancements within their domains, laying a strong foundation for subsequent discussions.

Panel Discussion: Charting the Course Forward

The panel discussion set the scene to evaluate the practical implications of the proposed solutions for the industry. Emphasising the key role of digitalisation as a precursor to automation, participants underscored the need for standardised data and streamlined processes to unlock the full potential of these transformative technologies. Presentations and the recorded event are available for download here.