Ports warned they will fail to meet vital IMO digital deadline

Some of the world’s major ports are failing to put in place the necessary steps to be ready to implement the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Maritime Single Window (MSW) mandate, which becomes compulsory worldwide from 1 January 2024.

Kale Logistics Solutions (Kale) has published the results of its readiness survey of 200 ports which revealed 30 percent or ports are not prepared to adopt the mandate.

It has prompted Kale to issue an urgent call for the industry to speed up its digital transformation as the survey cited high implementation costs, long timelines, and varying levels of digital readiness as leading factors hindering regulatory compliance.

The study involved ports located throughout the Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, and emphasised that Port Community Systems embedded with an MSW are integral to achieving the true potential of a port.

“The purpose of this study was to identify the tangible benefits the maritime industry can achieve with technology intervention, and the results showed potential savings of up to $50 billion annually by using MSW platforms,” said Vineet Malhotra, co-founder and director, Kale.

“However, these benefits are subject to 100 percent adoption of the MSW, and our report reveals that ports are encountering a number of barriers that hinder this digitalisation,” he added. “The MSW concept has the potential to revolutionise the international shipping industry.”

MSW platforms bring major sustainability benefits by digitising documentation, streamlining processes, and improving information exchange, resulting in reduced paper usage and more efficient vessel management, ultimately lowering emissions and environmental impact.

On average 12 agencies collaborate on one ship-shore operation, and the MSW simplifies documentary procedures between all actors involved and ensures information only needs to be inputted once.

“International shipping transports more than 90 per cent of global trade to people and communities worldwide,” the report stated. “The global cargo shipping market was valued at $2.2 trillion in 2021 and is projected to reach $4.2 trillion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 7 per cent  from 2022 to 2031.”

It continued: “In the maritime industry, one of the marked impacts of the pandemic is how the regard  for technology has changed. There is now greater appetite and acceptance of digital  solutions across the industry. Digital technologies and solutions are used to increase  competitiveness and enhance operational efficiency. They are also being implemented  to shoot the industry along the decarbonisation path to realise zero emissions from international shipping. Data streams from sensors and other sources of information can be used for decision-making and enhanced monitoring, control, quality assurance, and verification.”

It warned: “Not many ports have taken the regulation seriously for various reasons.”

“The need to standardise data to solve global supply chain issues has been a consistent  theme for all international bodies,” it added. “With more than 40 stakeholders in the value chain, as  information passes hands, it loses accuracy. Even with the single window systems,

there is a lack of communication between stakeholders. Harmonising all data information systems is crucial to solve supply chain challenges and drive future economic  growth.

The myopic view of many ports fails to see the harmonisation of vessel reporting obligations possible with it and the customs process solutions. We can link the governments involved in direct trade electronically for the first time, providing tangible cost  savings for businesses and the government. For governments, it is easier to check and eliminate corruption by improving methods to counter dishonest practices and reducing discretionary decisions by simply automating them.”

“The importance of this study will sow the seed for a digital revolution in the maritime industry worldwide, demonstrating how digitisation can not only bring order to the ongoing chaotic operations in the industry but also achieve significant sustainability goals in the long run,” added Malhotra.