Deutsche Telekom information technology (IT) business T-Systems South Africa launched a SmartHub Logistics (SHL) platform in February in Hamburg, Germany, to mitigate the constraints that logistics operators currently face.
Using an SHL platform, Germany’s Hamburg port currently manages a throughput of 40 000 trucks and 250 000 shipping containers a day, says T-Systems South Africa business solutions executive Martin Vergunst.
He notes that shipping ports, airports, warehouse dispatch centres, production sites and fleet company yards face similar logistics challenges, including limited opportunity for expansion, growing volumes of cargo and traffic, high costs associated with downtime and a constant drive to do more with less.
Vergunst notes that an intelligent SHL platform integrates information from various logistics functions within the yard and combines this data with external insight such as weather patterns or traffic congestion for the area. It also integrates disparate systems, telematics devices, traffic information and relevant data onto a single platform and creates clear communication channels among all stakeholders. This provides operations managers with real-time information to help them allocate resources and create schedules in the most optimal way.
A shipping port, for example, could combine real-time information from truck drivers, hauliers and parking-space operators, as well as port road management and vessel-tracking systems. This data could be used to schedule and stagger the flow of trucks entering the port and the loading and offloading of containers; it also facilitates these vehicles’ exiting the port.
This results in fewer traffic jams and ‘empty runs’ – trips that trucks or freight transporters make without any freight loaded – as well as shorter waiting times. For example, an airport could coordinate the arrivals schedule with the logistics of baggage-handling services, refuelling and disembarking equipment. “We implement the adage of making sure things are in the right place at the right time,” adds Vergunst.
SHL platforms draw on the significant leaps in three fields of IT – mobility, such as geofencing, geolocation, telematics and mobile apps; cloud computing, such as hosted information services, instantly made available to users regardless of their location; and big data, which is the advanced analytics software that transforms data into actionable insight.
The platforms also provide logistics hub managers with visibility over an entire value chain – giving them sight over all the interrelated components and players, and allowing them to prearrange resources according to current demand. Other role-players, such as fleet managers, port managers, truck drivers or baggage-handling crews, can be presented with information that is relevant to their roles in the broader ecosystem.
Hamburg Port Authority
Vergunst notes that Hamburg plays a key role in global shipping operations, as multiple routes pass through the north German port, connecting it to 179 countries worldwide. As the second-largest commercial harbour in Europe, it handles almost 140-million tons of goods a year.
An increase in global marine traffic is expected to more than double yearly container throughput in Hamburg by 2030, increasing its cargo capacity to 18-million twenty-foot equiva- lent units, he adds.
Further, the dock’s 72 km2 site offers limited scope for expansion, prompting the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) to find an alternative way of meeting rising demand. This has allowed for the usefulness of an SHL platform to be explored, as it streamlines the management of spiralling goods flows, improves truck throughput and prevents congestion, subsequently enhancing quality and efficiency along the entire logistics chain.
The facility’s operators leverage a private cloud solution from T-Systems, based on elements from the IT service provider’s connected car portfolio to deliver, access and integrate all relevant data in real time.
As a result, all stakeholders – from port and fleet managers to freight carriers, drivers, and gas station and rest stop operators – appreciate role-specific, up-to-the-minute visibility. Using in-memory, column-orientated, relational database management system SAP Hana – developed and marketed by German multinational software corporation SAP – HPA further enriches this information by adding details on road and bridge closures, construction sites and orders.
The SHL platform delivers facts and figures that support faster decision-making and rapid responses to dynamic changes in traffic and port infrastructure, saving time and money.
In 2013, the HPA commissioned T-Systems International, SAP and Deutsche Telekom in a joint venture to develop a solution that reduced traffic congestion and created a smart port solution. Together with SAP Hana, T-Systems’ TelematicOne platform was used to create the SHL solution.