MSC OSCAR at APM Terminals Rotterdam

With the roll-out of its digital shipping app, Pronto, Rotterdam is looking to streamline processes and get ports talking to one another.

The port has announced the formation of a new company, PortXchange, to make Pronto available to ports around the world over the “next few years”.

Via PortXchange, the port authority hopes to create strategic partnerships with other ports as well as shipping companies and terminals.

A source told The Loadstar one core benefit of the new software would be the removal of “antiquated” systems in which agents relay messages through multiple partners before the ports get the info.

“This will get the ports talking to one another, rather than having one agent sending confirmations to another agent who then informs the port,” said the source.

“Through Pronto the process will be streamlined and ports are communicating with one another, which is better for them, for processes and for the shipment.”

Pronto is a joint platform that can optimally plan, execute and monitor all activities during a vessel’s port call ,based on the exchange of standardised data. It enables just-in-time sailing, helping to reduce carbon emissions, a key aim of Port of Rotterdam Authority chief executive Allard Castelein.

“By making our application available to ports across the world we can optimise the potential of digital solutions,” he said.

“The more ports use smart solutions, the more valuable these become… the establishment of a separate company for Pronto’s global roll-out is an excellent example of this approach.”

According to Mr Castelein, the plan is to offer Pronto to ports across Europe and the US by the end of the year, with ambitions of a future worldwide roll-out.

One industry veteran welcomed the project, telling The Loadstarship operations needed to “come out of the dark ages” when embracing technology.

“There is so much waste, due to traditional port operation communications that have not adapted at the same pace as the liner industry,” said the source. “Let alone coping with the increased volatility caused by the sheer size of the ULCVs and the massive number of boxes that are exchanged in a call.

“Many of us still work from the port agent’s ‘little black book’ of contacts, that include the tug company, pilots and the duty manager at the next port. It’s a 24/7 business, but people have to sleep, so you are often relying on folk retrieving emails or voicemails for ETD and ETA information.”

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