For over 40 years, TOC Events has provided trusted forums for executives across the global ports, terminals, shipping and maritime logistics sector to network, learn and debate the big issues of the day. And over the past few years, there have been some very big issues to discuss. From dramatic shipping industry consolidation and vessel upsizing, to continued global economic, financial, political and trade volatility, the colossal Belt and Road initiative and the upswing in regulations around environmental protection, the maritime supply chain is being buffeted from many directions.
But potentially the greatest change of them all is the impact of new technology, both as an enabler and a disruptor, shaking up the status quo of international trade, supply chain, logistics, transport and port operations across the globe.
Technology is breaking down old walls, reshaping business roles and relationships and redefining consumer expectations at ever-increasing speed. E-commerce is now doubling in size every four years and cross-border e-commerce is leading the charge. This profound change to the last mile, along with other key developments like 3D-printing, will have a major knock-on impact for the middle and first mile of international logistics.
As Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO of PSA International and keynote speaker at TOC Asia 2018 observed, technology is remixing and reshaping the world and global supply chains need to play catch-up. While the focus so far has been largely on innovating physical transport solutions, often within specific nodes of the supply chain, logistics has now become a “three-dimensional flow problem” where the physical movement of goods overlaps with regulatory and financial activities.
Innovative approaches to fuse the digital and physical worlds are now needed to deliver the full operational and commercial benefits of new technology. In a world where everything is digitised, connected, shared, personalised and directly available to all, the ports and supply chains of the future will look very different. Digital platforms and eco-systems, robotics and autonomous vehicles, big data analytics, the Internet of Things, blockchain, AI and augmented reality are some of the smart and disruptive technologies explored at TOC in the last few years. That’s on top of automating business processes and handling systems in ports and terminals, which has been central to TOC technical debates for over a decade. In 2019, TOC will once again put automated and digital at the heart of our events. Figuring out what is really possible with all these new technologies, at what price, and how to adapt them into – or disrupt - existing processes is now critical.
As highlighted at recent TOCs, that includes the challenge of public and private sector collaboration to develop the standards, protocols and open interfaces that can support more automation and data sharing at a time of growing cyber security threats.