Port integration and

The digitalisation of complex processes creates transparency by integrating
IT systems and applications and by connecting all partners.

Current status

Ports are playing a pivotal role in directing global trade flows, as around 90% of all goods traded worldwide travel by ship at least once during their life cycle. The unloading of the cargo in particular is a very time- and cost-sensitive task that involves many stakeholders. This is precisely where one of the major challenges for container ports lies: the agreed conditions must satisfy all partners involved in the global logistics chain, as they depend on prompt fulfilment to make a profit. Thus, nobody likes to hear catchphrases such as “overcapacity”, “low cargo turnover” or “long demurrage time”, whether they are working for shipping companies, logistics providers or the terminal operator. Handling large cargo volumes quickly and in a time- and resource-saving way is not all, though. The level of digitalisation required of ports is also playing an increasingly important role in many other areas.
Freight forwarders, cargo handling companies, customs and numerous other service providers want to be informed and kept up to date with reliable data. Networking all players and systems in the port ecosystem is therefore essential, not only to plan more effectively and thus reduce costly demurrage, but also to offer additional value-added services and counter the competitive pressure between ports.

The challenge

Where to start? Which parameters can be fine-tuned? Container ports are now faced with a comparable level of complexity as other industries:

- the technical infrastructure forming a heterogeneous system landscape is outdated and often no longer maintained;

- there are many naturally grown individual processes and accordingly, a large number of mostly manual interfaces;

- the large organisation formed by the port community consists of numerous different players and stakeholders, both on land and at sea;

- external effects are increasing, such as requirements for connecting paperless logistics processes or electronic timetables.

As a result, adaptations take too long to implement and a great deal of effort is needed to examine unexpected side effects on the port ecosystem. An up-to-date view of the entire terminal process chain and all individual process steps is also missing. Obviously, this has a direct impact on goods handling and thus on times and costs.
The question is: How to address all these challenges in order to remain competitive and profitable and stay ahead of the strong competition?

Port automation

In this area, the aim is not to replace existing infrastructure, but to adapt it to the increased complexity, to establish connectivity between all port community members and to guarantee, by these means, the continued viability of the organisation. In other words, to become more agile, dynamic and analytical. This is achieved through 4 building blocks that can be implemented gradually.

Step-by-step digitalisation towards port automation:

1. Integration

Integration of data and processes from different IT systems with different data structures


Central platform
Smooth operational processes are essential in day-to-day business. This requires the use of all available data to refine them into key information for analysis and decision making. To make it happen, all essential systems, such as the TCS/PCS and TOS, as well as all interfaces for controlling cranes, container gantry cranes, AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and other machinery and equipment – in fact, the entire terminal process chain – will be retrofitted and integrated at one central platform.
Efficiency improvement
All on-premise activities as well as the coordination of activities at the loading dock become transparent, waiting times are minimised and the yard and dock management can be used more effectively.

2. Automation

Automation of processes and daily routines.


Easy data capture
The good thing is: the physical environment at container ports is highly structured and most routine procedures are quite straightforward and repetitive. Thus, it’s easy to capture, process and make sense of these large volumes of collected data to become more efficient. Many manual – and therefore error-prone – operations even can be eliminated through automation.
The number of incidents caused by manual labour is significantly reduced, performance becomes more predictable and port operations run more smoothly and without downtimes.

3. Connectivity

Networking of all players and IT systems of the port ecosystem:


Quick data exchange
The secure, reliable and fast transfer and exchange of information, documents and data (EDI: electronic data interchange) is crucial for one’s ability to act in a more agile manner on the market and requires the integration of all stakeholders. The connection of the “old” analogue world with the “new” world of IoT by means of sensor technology creates smarter data, increases transparency and makes day-to-day processes run more smoothly. This is the only reliable way to future-proof communication and interaction.
Enhanced service
Interaction and collaboration are optimised, creating improved services and thus added value for the entire port community.

4. Transparency

Transparency across the global process and at each process step:


A central dashboard not only creates real-time transparency and proactive control over your own applications and operations, it also makes information visible and traceable for all involved partners. As a result, not only the port itself, but its entire ecosystem can be optimised.
Tortuous queries are no longer necessary and predictable planning becomes standard.


The compacer B2B gateway – the simple solution

click to enlarge
Background image ©HHLA / Thies Rätzke

edbic, our smart platform for data and process integration tasks, supports the concepts of enterprise service architecture and event processing. The platform combines any number of endpoints, data sources, applications, services, interfaces and workflows in order to create a single, continuous, orchestrated process.

That much is clear: You can connect almost any system, device or thing – from any manufacturer or production year. The status of machines, installations, devices and processes is monitored by the platform without interfering with the existing automation and infrastructure.

In practice, this means: All data, independently of their format or origin, converge within edbic and sustainably improve business processes through sensible automation. The dashboard of our monitoring solution edpem brings more transparency into your entire supply chain – no matter at which point! We can also integrate early warning functions to bring monitoring to the next level.

The application is extremely versatile: edbic reads and stores production data and key figures from controlling systems, connected sensors and other sources. Real-time analyses allow you to visualise the condition and performance of machines and equipment and other key information on the dashboard. These data are also available to the entire networked port community at all times.

This not only enables you to distil relevant information on a wide range of issues for a wide range of stakeholders from the data, it also enables an intelligent controlling of the entire production environment across all assets.

This is the perfect foundation for further steps towards future viability and “Port Integration 4.0”.


Our solution will improve the quality and informational content of your data, speed up your business processes through automation and turbocharge your transmission speed. All of this contributes to improved process transparency and better communication with shipping companies, customs authorities, freight forwarders and other partners, ultimately reducing costs.

At a glance:
+ minimize downtimes in operations
+ make the best use of existing port capacities
+ reduce operating costs
+ increase the productivity of port processes
+ automate booking procedures and other manual processes
+ reduce costly demurrage
+ manage data flexibly and react to changes by customers
+ create transparency for the entire port ecosystem
+ improve your service by providing real-time information to partners
+ plan ahead thanks to transparency across the entire terminal process chain
+ be one step ahead of the competition in terms of future viability and innovation

The approach

Using our unique project method, your migration project will be completed in five quick and simple steps. While clean data and efficient processes are two key elements to guarantee success, a systematic step-by-step integration with the highest possible degree of automation is another.
In most cases, we will begin your project with a proof of concept (POC) so that you can experience the high degree of automation of our tool-supported integration.

We make sure that business process transactions are migrated and re-established without disrupting operation and that all connections are working by the defined deadline.

We connect you with your business partners and take care of process consulting, implementation and optimisation. You can rely on our expertise and our skilful roll-out management! You will benefit from our end-to-end service portfolio and the associated all-round carefree package from the first contact to the final recipient.

We will accompany you right up to roll-out and stay at your side until the project has been completed.

We have standardised the design, implementation and go-live of digitalisation projects. In this way, we ensure that your ongoing operations are not impeded. Nothing stands in the way of your technology refresh and the merging of systems!


Read here how other ports are mastering automation and working on Port Automation 4.0.

Digital Transformation at Antwerp Euroterminal NV

HPC and compacer implement IT integration for automated customs clearance for Cuxport

Outlook Port Integration 4.0 – Living IoT

Automating the port with edbic lays the foundation for further steps towards future viability and Port Integration 4.0. So, what does IoT 4.0 actually mean in the context of port integration and automation?

edbic allows you to visualise and evaluate the data from all connected systems on a clear dashboard, but the platform additionally collects, processes and analyses all kinds of sensor data from cranes, containers, ships, quay walls and other sources.
By implementing condition monitoring, you can thus access all the information from systems, machines and devices via various parameters in a continuous and detailed manner. Service crews can make repairs even before a system fails, and you can monitor KPIs and automatically trigger repairs on defective containers. The platform can even use sensor data to determine whether a given container or machine is defective. IoT 4.0 grants direct insights into the condition and use of moorings and berths as well as other areas in order to flexibly and efficiently readjust the terminal’s process chain.

If you want to go one step further, you can use predictive maintenance to make even more effective and detailed use of the newly available wealth of information. For this purpose, the existing data is used in statistical analyses and patterns are recognised by machine learning algorithms, creating tangible benefits from artificial intelligence (AI). The technology enables reliable forecasts on the service life and possible future damage to machines and installations by detecting wear patterns and anomalies, which in turn allows the port to carry out preventive maintenance. This visibly increases the availability of critical port equipment such as STS and RTG cranes.

Thus, by implementing IoT, ports are transformed into highly reliable and flexible logistics hubs. This enables them to easily manage predictable physical flows, leverage advanced analytics and dynamic planning to reroute containers, and use automatic routing and speed optimisations to buffer the many variables in logistics processes. The proactive management of the entire terminal process chain thus extends the radius of action of the port ecosystem and all of its stakeholders – terminal operators, freight forwarders, railway companies, shippers, logistics companies or customs authorities – are benefiting from considerable added value.

Port Integration Days

Get in touch

Annually, we host our Port Integration Days in cooperation with HPC Hamburg Port Consulting.
Here is a teaser video of what to expect on these special days.

Registrations are possible again in 2022.


Questions or interested?