Smarter Ports for a Sustainable Future


Siemens’ report ‘Smart Ports; Competitive Cities’ highlights how digital and advanced technologies can help ports become more efficient at the same time as reducing emissions and other negative impacts.


Ports and Cities

With a quadrupling of seabourne trade since the late 1960s, shipping plays a major role in our global economy and is responsible for transporting around 90% of world trade.

Any city that is home to a port often owes its success to it in terms of local industry and job creation.

Ports are essential to the functioning of any city that has one, and while the communities surrounding the ports are reliant on the industry they provide, those managing the ports have the responsibility of balancing the demand to improve the quality of life for the city residents as well as meeting the economic demands of the port.

Siemens has produced this report to highlight how digital and advanced technologies can help meet these demands.


Physical Challenges Facing Ports

The report identifies several key challenges facing ports, most of which impact the quality of life for port city residents and the environment more widely. 

The shipping industry is a main contributor to the world’s air pollution, responsible for 15% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and 6% of global sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions – which can be transported very long distances by wind, also Particulate Matter, PM10 and PM2.5  from diesel engines used on ships and landslide trucks – which is the deadliest form of air pollution

Another health risk is noise pollution, which can have a detrimental affect on both human and aquatic life.

Whether it is tidal dependence or insufficient planning, vessel congestion is also a challenge as is urban congestion once goods have reached dry land. Controlling congestion is essential to port logistics, since traffic jams can be enough to bring operations to a complete standstill.


Economic Challenges Facing Ports

Over capacity has put pressure on terminal operators and authorities to reduce shipping costs and environmental regulation is tightening with governments asking the industry to reduce emissions and other negative impacts.


The Digital Leap

Over the years ports have embraced new technologies but in order to meet the goals of improved efficiency and reducing emissions the solution is digitalisation. A key step towards this is electrification and Siemens states that the “port of the future” will be 100% electric delivered via a centralised energy system. Shore-side power is key to this initiative and Siemens reports that air quality could dramatically improve with the use of on-shore power supply for docking ships.


For more information on how digitalisation and advanced technologies can help ports compete, click here to request the full report.


External Sources

Siemens’ full report ‘Smart Ports; Competitive Cities’