INFORM believes that it is now time to rethink the paradigm
of infrastructure and IT as being separate projects.
“Most terminals or ports are focused on infrastructure
projects, such as replacing diesel equipment or implementing onshore power.
These are both great examples of projects with strong sustainability outcomes.
However, these traditional investments in concrete and steel are relatively
slow projects to realise, especially when compared to investments in IT and
software,” Alex Van Winckel, Senior Consultant, INFORM, told PTI.
“The reality is optimisation solutions can deliver immediate
benefits in a comparatively short timeframe. Our deployment schedules are
measured in months, with no costly retraining of staff typically required. They
are also very easy to implement within an organisation’s culture. The result is
a quick win as terminals and ports work towards their sustainability goals.
Furthermore, the benefits actually enrich the types of infrastructure projects
that they are already targeting,” he said.
Alex Van Winckel will be speaking at Port Technology’s
GreenTech for Ports & Terminals on 22 and 23 September 2021. Register now!
He noted, “For example, if a terminal operator is looking to
replace diesel-powered equipment with electric, there are two sustainability
problems to still consider. First and foremost, just because the equipment
isn’t burning diesel fuel in the terminal doesn’t mean that the overall CO2
reductions are realised.
“Most electricity around the globe still comes from burning
fossil fuels. The problem has simply been shifted upstream while also creating
a second issue of electrical grid sustainability.
“Building on the first is optimisation effort number two.
Replacing a diesel fleet with an electric fleet isn’t likely to reduce the
total CO2 emissions. In this example, our Vehicle Optimizer is proven to allow
operators to reduce their fleet sizes by as much as 40% on a sustained level.
Not only does this reduce a significant amount of CO2 production (both onsite
and upstream), but it also significantly reduces the quantity of equipment
needed and the invoice for said equipment. The ROI potential here is massive.”
INFORM as a company has strongly embraced the UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals.
“This starts in how we operate as a company and carries
through to the products and solutions we provide in the market,” Van Winckel
Independent assessment platform EcoVadis recently presented
INFORM with the Silver Medal award, confirming the company’s growing
“When it comes to our product, we’ve known for some time
that our solutions help our maritime and intermodal terminal operators reduce
their CO2 footprints,” Van Winckel explained.
“Over the past two years, we’ve been actively working to
understand how. At the beginning of 2021, we published a paper with Port
Technology titled ‘Sustainability in Maritime’, where we looked at the impacts
of our optimisation software.”
“The results were pretty telling. For instance, by
leveraging our Vehicle Optimizer or Yard Optimizer, terminal operators can
reduce a terminal’s CO2 footprint by as much as 16,200 tons and 1,580 tons,
respectively. Of course, these numbers will vary from terminal to terminal,
depending on their specific operating characteristics.
“Are these the largest numbers? Perhaps not, but these are
benefits in addition to the cost reductions that drive strong ROI when using
optimisation solutions from INFORM. Our Vehicle Optimizer can save operators as
much as €5.2 million ($6.15 million), and our Yard Optimizer can reduce
operational costs by as much as €7.5 million ($8.87 million). The financial and
green benefits of optimisation combined are clear and powerful incentives to
improve one’s operations,” he said.
It is clear that solutions like artificial intelligence,
machine learning, and automation can provide a clear route towards green,
However, Van Winckel said what is often overlooked when
discussing sustainability is emerging technologies’ impact on people.
“Our solutions are proven to assist in implementing
automation projects more successfully, and these projects, when done well,
reduce dispatcher and equipment-handler stress levels. Crane operators working
with our Crane Optimization solution routinely report significantly decreased
stress levels when working with the optimisation’s next-best-move
recommendations, as an example. Data also shows that the Crane Optimizer will
reduce CO2 by as much as 1,570 tons for RTG operations.”
INFORM has already worked with a number of leading brands in
the supply chain in order to optimise their business processes for over two
“This includes HHLA. We first delivered our optimisation
capabilities into the maritime industry and have been refining and enhancing
them for the past two decades,” Van Winckel said.
“In the long-term, we are also increasingly active in
monitoring the industry for ways in which we can positively impact it,” he
INFORM is set to continue to invest in initiatives and
product solutions: from its promoting diversity through their Millennials in
Maritime and Women in Maritime drives; to developing and launching new product
solutions such as its TLO aerodynamic train load planning algorithm; or the
company’s Machine Learning module that moves the industry forward.