Impacts of technology and ship sizes on ports

By Katrina Dodd, Global Practice Lead, Ports and Marine

How will technology and ever-increasing ship sizes change design and management of our ports?

These were two of the hot topics at the Coast and Marine Structures 2017 conference held in Brisbane, Australia recently. The gathering of port authorities, users, planners, designers and suppliers of new and evolving technology considered these and other current industry challenges.

Technology and the potential for “Uber-like” disruption is a common thread in all industries at the moment and the ports and terminals industry is no different. While we still don’t know exactly what the “Uber” of our industry may be, there are some great advances occurring in the use of technology for smart port maintenance planning, using real-time, historic and comparative data to significantly reduce operating costs and increase the life of the structures. New technology is also being developed to inspect and measure pile corrosion. I expect to continue to see both these applications develop as the way we gather, interpret and use data around the operation and management of port facilities increases.

Significant forecast increases in container transport and growth in the passenger cruising market globally are also driving the need for port owners and users to plan for increased traffic, significantly larger vessels and in some cases changing uses of their ports over coming years. Determining the most cost effective and sustainable approach for managing port facilities’ traffic capacity and berth sizes, plus the related infrastructure around the ports (particularly for passenger ships) is a challenge for our industry.

One of the common themes in the sessions was the importance of master planning. The significant changes ahead and the level of investment that will be required to embrace the opportunities they will bring reinforce the need for a future-focussed master plan that is sustainable, agile and comprehensive. Take into account community, government, owners and port users’ expectations as well as the design, develop, operation and maintenance requirements and one size certainly does not fit all.

At Ausenco we use a variety of tools to help our clients consider all known and potential requirements for their master plans, including scenario planning, computer simulations, data analysis and the latest thinking in bulk handling solutions. We’re excited by the possibilities and working with our clients to take advantage of the opportunities the ‘hot topic’ changes in our industry are delivering. For more on our services, click here.