Australia’s Ports would Gain an Edge with 3D Mapping Technology
Australia’s ports must adopt cutting-edge spatial technology to navigate a global downturn in shipping and a looming lull in the local mining boom, according to an international transport specialist.
Terry Bills is the GIS in Transportation expert with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology giant Esri, which recently integrated the operational systems of the world’s largest port, the Port of Rotterdam, into a comprehensive 3D mapping system.
Now Mr Bills has been invited to address engineers, planners, scientists and researchers at an industry conference in Sydney on how the technology can help ensure Australia’s ports weather adverse economic conditions.
His visit comes as Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services reports enormous industry overcapacity and depressed global trading conditions are causing a shipping downturn internationally.
Mr Bills said now is the time for port operators to make a strategic investment in technology to address bottlenecks and build productivity in preparation for a recovery.
“China’s slowing economic growth has led to falling demand for the resources that typically drive Australia’s shipping industry,” Mr Bills said.
“Australia’s ports need to turn this challenge into an opportunity and address productivity issues.
“GIS technology can raise efficiency by pooling multiple operational systems – such as asset management, security, executive management and natural environment systems – into one overarching solution that can be controlled centrally.
“With employees, assets and activities to manage across large areas, the need for a single system that visually represents what is occurring across a port is crucial to being able to identify bottlenecks and monitor risk and safety issues.
“Using GIS technology to develop this comprehensive operational view of the entire port facility enables senior management to keep on top of how every division is performing and address inefficiencies at the source.”
Mr Bills said globally, the ports currently rising above the economic challenges facing the industry all have one thing in common.
“They have all used GIS technology to develop a geographic view of their operations, by integrating their various sources of business data into the type of single, interactive mapping solution used by Port of Rotterdam,” Mr Bills said.
“For example, Port of Tampa in Florida use GIS technology to monitor all surrounding land uses and water sampling so they can gauge the impact of the port’s operations on sea grasses and the bay.
“Portugal’s Port of Sines is now successfully competing with much larger ports after implementing GIS technology across their operations to control costs and boost productivity.”
Esri Australia GIS in Ports specialist Tom Farrow said Mr Bills’ extensive international experience enabled him to provide a valuable insight to those Australian ports which may not yet realise GIS technology’s full potential.
“By providing a geographic view of a port’s data, operators can instantly visualise what is happening across the port via desktop and web-based interfaces,” Mr Farrow said.
“The most up-to-date data is constantly being fed into the system from various departments and from out in the field so users have all the information they need at their fingertips to make more informed decisions.
“This platform provides port operators with a ‘single point of truth’ that reduces the need to access or request data from multiple, competing technologies or specialised systems.”
Mr Bills will be available for interviews and image opportunities today at the Coasts & Ports 2013 conference, the leading forum for coasts and ports professionals, at Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific.