“New challenges for the maritime-port sector: are we ready?” was the name of the seminar that gathered Chile’s key players of the port industry, who witnessed a diverse discussion on regulation, infrastructure, technological impact, supply chain and new vessels, all the aspects that are re-shaping today’s maritime-port industry in Chile and the world.
Organized by Chile’s Maritime and Port Chamber (CAMPORT A.G.), lead by Daniel Fernández, other speakers at the seminar were the minister of transport and telecommunications, Gloria Hutt and the international analyst Dinesh Sharma, Director of Drewry Maritime Advisors. Hosted by the Chilean Federation of Industry (SOFOFA), President Bernardo Larraín took the chance to express the importance of the country’s port sector and infrastructure development to ensure the needed flexibility and security for maximum productivity. “We require greater public-private coordination and also the lack of robust institutionality is putting us at risk of losing competitiveness,” said the executive.
Drewry’s analyst opened the discussion by focusing his presentation on the irruption of new technologies and technological applications and the impact of digitalization and automation of port operations and supply chain. “From an international perspective, the maritime sector has significant impact on the economy, therefore it is in the economy’s best interest to provide adequate support and infrastructure for optimal development. In this sense, it is important to keep in mind the challenges the industry 4.0 faces: dgitalization, automation and advanced technologies such as robots, drones, blockchain and hyperloop, all with the promise to save costs for companies,” said Sharma.
Digital integration at port terminals was the highlight of Sharma’s presentation, emphasizing on the need for ports to experiment with technologies that allow them to stay competitive by increasing efficiency and productivity. “Eventually, the entire supply chain will be digitally integrated,” the analyst added. Other technological applications, such as remote real-time monitoring, cloud computing and on-demand 3D printing for spare parts are novelties as of now, but will soon become necessities.
New competitivity parameters
CAMPORT President Fernández focused his presentation on the commercial aspects that are causing friction and subtracting competitivity appeal for Chilean ports. “We are facing great changes in international commerce, climate change and consumer habits which are redefining the supply chain lookout,” he highlighted. Reducing these ‘frictions’ is necessary for increasing competitiveness among ports in the Latin American region: port availability, service fees, port tariffs, maritime concessions lease; and also the lack of governance, port investment planning and use of floor type, among others.
“Reducing these frictions will increase efficiency in external commerce, and alog with it the country and its exports. The maritime-port sector requires an explicit public-private agenda to deal with these issues,” Fernández added.
Minister Hutt also commented on the matter of port logistics challenges, but from a ministry-political standpoint. “There’s a change in consumer trends with a large amount of products entering the country and distribution is becoming an issue. With smaller lots solutions like blockchain and paperless logistics are necessary, but there are still large gaps that don’t allow for a complete digitalization and automation of the supply chain,” said the minister.
Governance was another key issue discussed at the seminar, especially by attendees who questioned the authority on plans to develop a General Port Law during the current government. Minister Hutt commented on Chile’s extensive analysis and diagnostics history to determine what is needed and how to do it, but always lacking in the follow-up part of actually developing these analysis and diagnostics into real development plans: port capacity vision, connectivity, hinterland, information and coordination systems, sustainability, governance and harmonious coexistance between port and city. “Maritime-port development is crucial for the country and we do not want to pass on to future generations the cost of not taking action. Now is the time to do it.”
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