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Best practices for digitalizing Ship-Shore Processes. Terminal Use Case.

This article is part of the Newsletter Streamlining the Ship-Shore by Smartflow Digital ISGOTT.

Table of contents

  1. Part 1. The digitalization of ship-shore processes

  2. Part 2. Best practices 

  3. Part 3. Terminal use case

  4. Final thoughts

Stay tuned

This edition zooms into three parts: 

  1. Digitalization of Ship-Shore processes. A trend or a norm? 
  2. Five best practices when digitalizing ship-shore processes 
  3. Use Case. Transforming terminal operations 

Part 1. The Digitalization of ship-shore processes. A trend or a norm?

The wind of technological change is moving industries ahead, and the tank storage sector has long ago embarked on this transformative journey. But many terminals worldwide are still slow to explore the impact of digitalization as they are too tangled in the old ways of working. 

We’ve witnessed the risks of traditionally relying on manual checklists and paperwork for so long, and despite the popularity of advanced technologies such as AI, IoT, data analytics, or automation, the shores of digitalization are still too difficult to reach for some. 

But the digital compass guides many terminals towards a future of streamlined terminal operations, and the digitalization of ship-shore processes has become a norm for some. With the increased adoption of digital technologies, the sector is reshaping traditional practices in an effort to improve efficiency and add a new layer of safety and environmental consciousness. 

Sustainability is a global imperative, and digitalization plays a strategic role in enhancing the sector’s efforts towards that. 

Through real-time monitoring and data-driven decision-making, digital ship-shore processes enable more precise fuel consumption, route optimization, and emissions management, reducing the industry's carbon footprint.

Tank storage professionals have pledged to secure more responsible operations to align with global initiatives to mitigate environmental impact. 

Part 2. Five best practices when digitalizing ship-shore processes 

These are some of the best practices you can follow for ensured success. 

1. Tailor your checklists for efficiency

Terminals differ to such an extent that global companies with an extensive terminal portfolio have more challenges in creating and implementing standardized processes. This doesn’t have to complicate the digitalization of ship-shore processes because each terminal should have the flexibility to customize their checklists to suit the terminal’s unique operations. 

The Smartflow Digital ISGOTT Solution allows you to configure checklists to ensure compliance with specific vessel types, cargo handling procedures, or regulatory requirements. With this layer of tailored approach, terminals optimize efficiency and never miss any critical steps in the processes. 

‘Accelerating Digitalization: Critical Actions to Strengthen the Resilience of the Maritime Supply Chain describes how collaborative use of digital technology can help streamline all aspects of maritime transport, from cross-border processes and documentation to communications between ship and shore, with a special focus on ports.’ WorldBank 

Understanding standardization at a large scale is key in implementing a solution that uses specific frameworks that enables terminals to benefit from standardized processes. Moreover, provides them with the flexibility to comply with local regulations and needs. 


2. Promote cross-functional collaboration

Seamless collaboration among various departments, shore-to-ship, and across the organization adds up to effective terminal operations. When it comes to ensuring that terminal managers, operators, and operations chiefs are aligned, having real-time updates and notifications is the simplest add-on. Coordinated terminal professionals ensure the highest level of efficiency. When everyone works in sync, they reduce delays, speed up processes and reduce costs. 

Although in 2019, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) made it mandatory for all its member countries to exchange key data electronically (the FAL convention), a 2021 IAPH survey reveals that only a third of over 100 responding ports comply with that requirement. The main barriers to digitalize cited by the ports were the legal framework in their countries or regions and persuading the multiple private-public stakeholders to collaborate, not the technology. 

Just over 34% of the ports responding to the survey have an electronic data exchange system in place that meets the IMO FAL new mandatory requirement.

Just under 35% of the ports answering the survey are at design or implementation stage of setting up such systems split roughly half and half. 

Finally, just above 30% of the respondents indicate that no concrete action has been taken yet to establish the required electronic data exchange systems.

3. Increase all-around safety with digital records

Safety is non-negotiable in terminal operations. Digitalizing ship-shore processes allow terminals to maintain comprehensive records of safety procedures and compliance activities. 

By accessing digital records anytime, anywhere, you unlock full transparency into the history of actions taken. In case of any accidents, they can facilitate investigations and minimize potential liabilities. 

4.0 technologies are the key factor enabling container port operators to accomplish an improvement of operation performance, an increase in safety and security, environmental protection and prevention, and sustainability development. Source: 4.0 Technology for Port Digitalization and Automation

4. Look for scalability and flexibility 

Terminals grow, regulations change, operations scale, and so should the digital solution you’re using. When deciding to digitalize ship-shore processes, make sure you keep in mind the scalability of your overall operations and how the digital solution accommodates your evolving needs. Always keep in mind that a flexible platform can incorporate new features, adapt to changing regulations, and can integrate with other systems.

Terminals need to assess every operation and identify digital leaps for achieving specific business objectives. They also need to align their digital strategy with their overall business strategy and vision to assess scalability. 

Read the article: Future-proof your terminal. Digital ship-shore safety checklists for unparalleled efficiency and compliance in tank storage operations. 

5. Foster data-driven decision making 

Act strategically to determine the success and resilience of your ship-shore operations. The whole energy sector is defined by its complexity and volatility, which makes it even riskier to rely on traditional or outdated practices.

If terminals are to harness the power of information flowing within their operations, acting data-driven is paramount. Every vessel movement, cargo transaction, and operational process generates invaluable data points. When analyzed comprehensively, data reveals patterns, inefficiencies, and opportunities that might otherwise remain invisible.  

It’s a natural evolution towards proactive and predictive operations. It enables terminal professionals to anticipate trends, optimize routes, predict maintenance needs, and enhance safety protocols. 

The current environmental status emphasizes sustainability. Data-driven insights guide the sector to reduce emissions, optimize energy consumption, and contribute to a greener industry ecosystem. 

Part 3. Use Case. Transforming terminal operations 

One of our mid-sized terminal customers in Europe has decided to customize their ship-shore checklists to make sure they precisely address the specific needs of different vessels and cargoes arriving at their terminal. Their main goal has been to reduce errors and enhance collaboration between the terminal and the vessel way before the vessels arrive at the terminal. 

One of the requirements expressed in our onboarding sessions was for the operations manager to remotely monitor checklist progress so they can ensure compliance even when on the move. 

The use of the Digital Ship-Shore Checklist 

When the ship has arrived at the terminal, the terminal representative at the berth receives all the information on their ATEX tablet to continue the process. The terminal representative reaches out to the ship’s master to jointly complete the Ship Shore Safety Checklist (SSSCL) before the cargo loading or unloading starts. This includes checks after mooring and the pre-transfer conference, pre-transfer checks, and pre-transfer agreements. 

The digital checklist automatically shows the relevant parts based on the product to be transferred and has designated areas if crude oil washing is planned or checks before tank cleaning or gas freeing are applicable.  

At the end of this process, all checklists need to be checked and initialed by the tanker personnel and the terminal personnel in the relevant boxes on the declaration form. Once these have been completed, the tanker and terminal representatives agree on the following repetitive checks, which also need to be added to the declaration.  

Both the tanker and terminal will receive a digital copy of the pre-arrival checks and the SSSCL to be displayed at all the relevant control stations. Once both parties sign this declaration, the status changes to Repetitive checks.

Digital repetitive checks 

The tanker and terminal receive a reminder at an agreed time interval to perform the repetitive checks. The information entered can be viewed by all parties involved all the time. This, for example, makes it very easy to perform shift handovers since all relevant information is digitally recorded and available.

After the tanker has left the terminal, the final documentation is prepared and shared with the parties involved. The desired format is used for this so that the information is recognizable and complete for everyone.

Other important documents are also included in the digitalized ship-shore process flow to ensure full advantage of the possibilities, such as operational arrangements, pre-berthing questionnaires, and pollution prevention checklists, among many others. This differs per terminal, and our customer gives all terminals the freedom to design their own digital ship-shore documentation.

Final thoughts

Terminals driven by data insights and continuous analysis of operational data are able to identify loading bottlenecks and optimize workflows, enhancing overall efficiency.

This use case demonstrates how implementing best practices through digitalization can transform terminal operations, creating an ecosystem of synchronized efforts, data-driven decisions, and enhanced safety measures. 

Transform your Ship-Shore Operations 

Next steps

>>> Contact us for a free demo session

>>> Talk to a consultant about your specific needs 

>>> Visit the Smartflow Digital ISGOTT page if you are interested in digitizing the ship-shore process at your tank storage terminal 

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Tank storage operator holding a rugged tablet with the smartflow inspection app open on it