Port of Ipswich trials IoT system to digitise operations

BT and ABP deploy intelligent asset platform across East Anglian maritime commercial hub to help its voyage towards smart port status

Associated British Ports (ABP) is teaming up with BT to trial next-generation internet-of-things (IoT) and sensor technology at the Port of Ipswich to speed up the movement and processing of cargo goods and digitise logistics and operations processes.

Situated at the head of the River Orwell, 12 miles (19km) from the open sea, the Port of Ipswich is the UK’s leading grain export port and handles a range of other products, such as fertiliser, cement and aggregates, dealing with two million tonnes of cargo a year.

In the deployment, ABP and BT have installed IoT devices on cranes and transport equipment, which are used for the safe and efficient collection and transportation of cargoes across the port. The data generated by BT’s IoT system are being captured, analysed and visualised on its Intelligent Asset platform to make the unloading and transportation of cargoes more efficient in near-real time.

The system interprets the data from a wide range of port equipment, providing a record of time, travel distance, routes taken, and weight of goods unloaded. The information is then automatically sent to port management, allowing them to track the progress of the ship-to-shore operations.

This is designed to allow the Port of Ipswich operational team to make rapid, data-driven management decisions, and facilitate more collaborative decision-making with customers, making the best use of resources and assets to meet customer demand.

As well as tracking the movement of assets, the data collected from BT’s IoT system also monitors periods of inactivity, underutilisation, and maintenance requirements. For instance, the data is intended to provide better understanding of the resourcing of crane drivers and uses that analysis to reduce costs and greenhouse gases.

Cranes are used more when downtime is assessed accurately, and resources can be flexibly deployed to reduce periods of inactivity. The technology also gathers insights such as how often the equipment is being used, and how much distance it has covered. This, said BT, will provides an accurate view of maintenance requirements for plant equipment and machinery.

“The trial with BT is an exciting step in the Port of Ipswich’s journey to becoming a smart port,” said Andrew Harston, region director, Wales and short sea ports, Associated British Ports. “The data generated by the internet of things solution gives the team in Ipswich the power to manage our resources and assets more effectively, improving our productivity and reducing our costs. Ultimately, this trial will help us to provide even better customer service.”

Dean Terry, managing director, corporate and public sector of BT’s Enterprise unit, added: “It’s fantastic to see the early success of our partnership with ABP as we support their ambitions for the Port of Ipswich to become a leading smart port. In deploying our IoT solution, we’re able to help produce intelligent, actionable insights to support the teams on the ground to monitor equipment in real time, and make instant, autonomous decisions to speed up the supply chain.

“This is made possible by combining our award-winning 4G EE network with our deep expertise in sensor technology, network infrastructure and supply chains.”

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