Smart ports, smarter operations: How shipping operators are transforming their operations with IoT

Smart ports, smarter operations: How shipping operators are transforming their operations with IoT

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February 27, 2024
Three Group Solutions

Shipping ports are vital to our modern lives and global trade. They are also at the cutting edge of technological innovation — powered by IoT (the Internet of Things).

Global shipping ports are incredibly complex operations to run, with hundreds of thousands of moving parts that absolutely must keep moving. Shipping ports need to meet strict service levels, which means it’s crucial that they accurately track and forecast container moves in real-time. To do that, they need seamless, ubiquitous, and resilient connectivity.

Every part of these large, complex campuses needs continuous network connectivity, and the connection must be robust, regardless of quayside obstacles. Port operators need to be able to seamlessly track and manage the activities of thousands of ships, suppliers, containers, vehicles, and people — all while knowing any mistakes can easily cost billions to the economies they underpin.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that ports operators rely so heavily on real-time asset control and data. IoT and industrial wireless networks have transformed the world of shipping and logistics. Containers can be moved by cranes remotely controlled by operators located in comfortable surroundings — a significant improvement on legacy operations that required operators to scale ladders to reach crane cabins. These real-time video feeds and live analytics of the entire operating environment means port operators are able to improve safety, while the better operating environment means a wider pool of people can become crane operators. Cranes and other assets can also be equipped with connected sensors that help to predict maintenance requirements and avoid costly downtime.

Having industrial-grade connectivity throughout the port is a central tenet to this high-tech innovation. 5G especially is perfect for these large, complex environments and use cases where minimal transmission latency, maximum data throughput, coverage, resiliency, and security are key. The low-latency of 5G and industrial wireless networks have enabled shipping ports to become early adopters of autonomous vehicles in the workplace. Now, many port operators are exploring the introduction and reliance on unmanned vehicles to transform the shipping sector — making it more efficient, safer, and less prone to costly delays.


Keen to explore how IoT could be used to give your business a data-fuelled boost?

We’re happy to talk. Get in touch with one of our experts or read through our collection of IoT e-guides and solutions if you’d prefer to explore the possibilities on your own first.

Want to read about more ways IoT is transforming industries? Have a look at the other articles in the series: How IoT is changing the world for businesses — and beyond.