Modern seaports have a significant role in the
competitiveness of each country in terms of
globalization. It is worth mentioning that
globalization is a process of technological changes.
Technological changes have been taking place in the
international economy for many years. Newer and
newer port technologies have been introduced to the
market. As it is shown by the statistics, the reason of
their introduction is the rapidly developing
containerization. Ports have grown to play a very
important role in supply chains [62]. Furthermore, the
efficiency and safety of the cargo flows highly depend
on the related information flows [17]. Therefore, in
order to increase the profitability and importance of
the port in the global economy, it is necessary to
implement the latest IT systems. Modern technologies
provide the optimization, the management, and the
automation of the port operation and the logistics
processes, hence they create an effective advance
which strengthens the port's position among the
maritime communities. If it is not enough, they also
improve the integration of governing bodies to
standardize and harmonize the reporting formalities.
Ports have been especially challenged during the
COVID - 19 pandemic. The port enterprises, which
had dynamically introduced innovative solutions,
have maintained their position on the market. This
means that innovation is the only way to maintain a
high position in the international economy.
Analysis of Modern Port Technologies Based on
Literature Review
. Kosiek, A. Kaizer, A. Salomon & A. Sacharko
Gdynia Maritime University, Gdynia, Poland
ABSTRACT: Modern technologies provide the optimization, the management, and the automation of the port
operation and the logistics processes, hence they create an effective advance which strengthens the port's
position among the maritime communities. If it is not enough, they also improve the integration of governing
bodies to standardize and harmonize the reporting formalities. Ports have been especially challenged during the
COVID - 19 pandemic. The port enter
prises, which had dynamically introduced innovative solutions, have
maintained their position on the market. This means that innovation is the only way to maintain a high position
in the international economy. The aim of the study is to present a review of port technologies, which is based on
literature. The article was written in accordance with the method of literature analysis.
the International Journal
on Marine Navigation
and Safety of Sea Transportation
Volume 15
Number 3
September 2021
DOI: 10.12716/1001.15.03.22
The aim of the study is to present a review of port
technologies, which is based on literature. The article
was written in accordance with the method of
literature analysis.
In the introductory part of the paper, the
reasonableness and the purpose of applying modern
technologies are described. Also the necessity of
examining them with the use of literature analysis, is
explained there. Moreover, the introduction will help
readers to gain a general knowledge of the topic. The
second chapter, entitled "Methods and Models",
describes the method, which was used. In this part,
sixty-five scientific publications, concerning the issue,
were analyzed, and particular observations, based on
the research conducted by individual experts, were
presented. Furthermore, in this chapter the
technologies and their practical application, based on
case studies, were described. The innovative
solutions, characterized in this chapter, have been
grouped into two main parts: a) Internet of Things
(IoT), b) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data.
While IoT concerns devices that interact with the
Internet, AI makes devices learn from their data. Both
systems are considered to change the current port into
the smart port in the most quickly way. In each part,
the most popular and modern systems, which operate
in ports or which are currently being implemented,
have been selected. The final part of the article
"Results and Discussion" presents the effects of the
research, which were obtained from popular websites
and academic publications. What is more, also the
problems encountered during introduction of modern
solutions were discussed in the paper. The
aforementioned part confirms the reasonableness of
implementing innovative systems in seaports in order
to improve their functionality.
The research method used in the publication is the
method of literature analysis. According to Webster
and Watson, the full review concerns relevant
literature about analyzed subject and is not limited to
neither one research methodology, nor one set of
journals, nor one geographic area [69]. When creating
this article, the following databases were mainly used:
Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Research
Gate, IEEE Xplore, Science Direct, and information
obtained from the Croatian Standards Institute. The
above-mentioned research bases are the leading
research portals. They enable to identify the required
articles from various sources, e.g. publications in
indexed journals, academic conferences, publications
in international monographs, dissertations, opinions
of professional associations, etc. The literature has
been analyzed mainly in order to find keywords (or
combination of keywords): smart port, big data,
artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT),
port, smart port technologies in English. Ninety most
relevant scientific articles, mainly in English, have
been analyzed. Each of them was initially examined in
terms of: style, compliance with the topic of the paper
and attractiveness among the competing publications.
The articles which did not meet the above
requirements were rejected. The aforementioned
criteria were fulfilled by sixty-five articles, which
were subsequently used during the analysis.
This chapter presents the results of literature research
concerning modern technologies used in seaports. The
current state of knowledge about particular
innovative port systems was examined, as well as
experts’ predictions of future innovative solutions
were indicated.
3.1 Smart solutions based on Internet Of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT), as defined by IEEE, is a
network of items, including sensors and embedded
systems, which are connected to the Internet and
enable physical objects to collect and exchange data
[26]. IoT is used in transport and logistics. It should be
highlighted, that development and improvement of
information technology throughout the entire logistics
process put pressure on port systems, requiring
continuous development and technological progress
at the appropriate level [32]. In this economic sector,
the novelty could optimize the cargo tracking and the
process of its delivery. During the ICIST'18
conference, one of the examples of the use of IoT, in
order to optimize the container service using RFID,
was presented [34]. Addo-Tenkorang and Helo define
IoT as "Big Data II", highlighting the fact, that IoT
schemas go a step further than Big Data applications,
enabling a powerful network which integrates
industrial facilities, as well as all kinds of products,
via sensors and actuators [1]. The Smart Port concept
has attracted the attention of the world's largest ports,
e.g. the Port of Hamburg, the Port of Amsterdam, Port
Le Havre, etc. since 2010 [36]. The largest seaports
have opted for IoT, including innovative technological
and digital solutions, to modernize their port
infrastructure [6, 59]. As IoT develops, sensors play a
key role in measuring the physical properties of
objects and converting them into numerical values.
Subsequently, the numerical values could be noted by
another device or by the user. The above could be
confirmed by future projects of various governments,
e.g. Industry 4.0 (Germany). In Smart Ports the main
role is played by intelligent sensors, wireless devices,
and data centers. To collect the necessary data, sensors
such as: inertial sensors, ultrasonic sensors, eddy
current sensors, radar, lidar, image sensors and
readers, RFID tags, etc., are needed [72]. A good
example of the use of IoT is the proposal to use the
positioning algorithm and the obstacle avoidance
algorithm for automated guided vehicles (AGV) in the
environment based on laser measurement systems
[52]. Another form of benefit from IoT is the
suggestion presented by Li and Xu. Li and Xu, in their
scientific publication, proposed an innovative
positioning project for land vehicles. This positioning
is based on a virtual sensor and on an integrated
inertial measurement unit [39]. The structure of an
automated container terminal is presented below.
Figure 1. The structure of an automated container terminal
Successful implementation of port processes based
on IoT requires strong connection and participation of
all stakeholders, as well as competitive companies
from supply chain, in order to jointly invest in IoT
infrastructure. Burazer claims that it is necessary to
invest in the M2M (Machine to Machine) and V2V
(Vehicle to Vehicle) models. In order to provide the
functioning of both models, the communication via
the Internet in one, common, intelligent IoT network,
is needed [11, 18]. Properly implemented IoT port
processes enable to [32]:
conduct a full automation of the port terminal;
reduce operating costs;
introduce the autonomous vehicles for
transporting containers;
carry out a GPS tracking and cargo management;
improve the protection of the assets of expensive
communicate with other vehicles in the supply
supervise the port / docks live on video;
take advantage of mobile applications for port
workers to increase productivity and improve
The key technologies in the IoT:
6. Sensors
Sensors, are described by Xisong & Gang &
Xiujiang & Yuantao & Yisheng as the essential link
to make automatic detection and automatic control
possible. They could detect, by catching an external
signal, physical conditions (such as light, heat,
humidity, pressure) or chemical composition (for
example smoke), and send them to the top layer of
the Internet of Things, using information and
communication technology. The sensor responsible
for collecting data in the Internet of Things is not
only the base for the perception of the real world,
but also for IoT services and applications [71].
According to the Heiling’s, Ruiz’s and VoB’s
article, a good example of exploitation of sensors is
the conversion of paper documents into digital
documents with the use of sensors [27].
7. Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID)
In accordance with Shi, Tao and VoB, RFID is a
technology which is growing rapidly as costs
decrease and benefits are recognized. The
fundamental advantage of RFID in a port /
terminal application is that this is the technology of
"automatic" data collection [61]. Kadir and other
authors of the publication described the purpose of
the RFID system. Its task is to shorten the waiting
queue of trucks, to reduce the number of operators
from eight to four, to improve containers security,
and to facilitate online container tracking [35].
Sensors play an important role in the automation
of each application. They estimate and process the
collected data in order to detect physical changes
8. Wireless Sensor Network (WSN)
The use of Wirless Sensor Network has been
widely presented in the scientific journal IEEE.
WSN, has been described as a wireless sensor
network in a form of a set of spatially dispersed,
autonomous sensors. They cooperate in order to
monitor the physical or environmental quantities
of the objects being of interest to them [2]. WSN is
used in maritime operations, e.g. container
monitoring. According to the researchers from the
University of Guilan, thanks to wireless sensor
networks, it is possible to monitor online
containers that transport more than 90 percent of
the world's non-bulk cargo, located at the ships
and seaport areas, [54].
9. Machine to Machine (M2M)
According to Chen and Li, Machine to Machine is
a new communication technology. In 2012, an
article on M2M was published, in which the
system was presented as a large number of "smart
devices", which can autonomously communicate
with each other, and make joint decisions without
direct human intervention [14]. Live data provided
by M2M applications, are increasingly considered
as a prerequisite for the digital port of the future.
10. Cyber-physical systems (CPS)
Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are used to
automate seaport equipment. These systems are
able to connect physical devices with the virtual
3.2 Smart solutions based on artificial intelligence and big
Big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are essential
elements of data-driven decision making process in
most industries [40]. Big Data and Artificial
Intelligence have gained considerable attention in
recent years, thanks to numerous scientific
publications [4]. According to Frank’s, Big Data means
large amounts of data. Scientists has been creating
newer and newer techniques for analyzing large data
sets [23]. According to scientists, the number of
researches on Big Data and AI use, has increased
significantly since 2012. Following this trend, new
business models has been developed [48]. Maritime
operations which have made use of large data sets and
artificial intelligence, could influence the economic
and environmental aspects of maritime activities [57].
Thanks to artificial intelligence and Big Data, the
maritime industry is transforming into a more
productive and optimal one [27]. In reference to
verified bibliography, AI and Big Data could be
divided into clusters: digitization, applications of big
data from AIS, and energy efficiency [49].
Cluster of digitization - it focuses on the use of
digital technologies in shipping. As a result, there is a
new digital business and hence newer methods of
generating income. During the literature analysis, it
could be noticed that there is a trend which indicates
that among the modern technological systems, the
Port Community System is the most popular.
Cluster of applications of big data from AIS - they
have been described mainly by literature reviews. The
pioneers in this studies are: Wang, Yang Sidibe, and
Shu [49]. Wang and others claim in their publication,
that proper visualization of maritime traffic could
improve the safety of maritime transport [22, 67].
Cluster of energy efficiency - it concentrates on
improving energy efficiency in maritime transport
using artificial intelligence and big data. Most of the
research in this cluster focus on optimizing ship
speed, according to Lee’s and Yan’s 2018 publication.
The others pay attention to route planning. Brouer,
Karsten, and Pisinger analyzed a new scenario for
optimizing the shipping network in 2017 [10].
The key technologies of artificial intelligence and
big data
1. Port Community System
In reliance on Srour, van Oosterhout, van Baalen,
and Zuidwijk statements, the Port Community
System could be defined as holistic, geographically
limited, information centers in global supply
chains, which primarily serve the interests of a
heterogeneous collective of companies related to
ports [63]. The exploitation and the purpose of this
system has been presented for example by Long.
Long in his publication claims that the
development and implementation of Port
Community Systems are important factors
contributing to effectiveness of cargo flow across
international borders [42].
2. Applications of big data from AIS
At the IEEE conference, scientists demonstrated
the use of big data from AIS. The AIS system was
originally created as a navigational safety system
to support vessel traffic in ports [44]. Currently,
according to Pallott, Vespe, and Bryan, AIS data
could also be used for route prediction [50].
3. Multi-agent systems (MAS)
MAS, was created to improve cooperation between
terminal managers, customers and carriers through
information connections [41]. Itmi and others in
their publication described the use of MAS in
terms of solving allocation problems, for example
with transport of containers from the quay to the
yard [31]. The MAS architecture offered the
integration of heterogeneous information from
multiple operations in a terminal configuration to
create a centralized and structured dispatch system
4. Artificial neural network
Already in 1999, the automatic character
recognition system (CRS) was tested. This system
aimed to identify container numbers on the basis
of various distortions [38]. In 2012, in the academic
article published by Shetty and other, the character
recognition system was detailed in the context of
the supply chain [60].
5. AGV
The AGV (automated guided vehicle) system was
described in detail in 2013 by Fazlollahtabar and
Saidi-Mehrabad. The authors present the use of
automated guided carts in reloading systems, such
as container terminals [20]. According to Gotting,
the use of AGVs will benefit in environments with
recurring transport patterns. The examples of such
environments are: distribution, transshipment and
transportation systems [25].
6. Autonomous Robots
According to Stavrou et al., automation could
improve efficiency of logistics. The authors are
developing a method for assigning containers to
robots. They use mixed integers for linear
programming [64]. Bouge described in his
publication the use of an autonomous underwater
vehicle the AUV type. This vehicle is designed to
inspect hulls of ships and underwater
infrastructure to monitor port security [7, 8]. A
model of autonomous ships for moving containers
from a ship to a shipyard, was presented in the
article by Yuan et al., published in 2010 [73].
7. Algorithms
In 2009, Salido et al. described in their publication
an intelligent model for containers stacking [56].
Park et al. in 2010 described how to re-select
containers by practicing a dynamic genetic
algorithm, and also proposed a sequencing
parameter to take into consideration that there
could be multiple tiers or stacks of containers
stored at the yard [51]. In 2007, Preston and Kozan
investigated mathematical modeling and
optimization using a genetic algorithm in order to
transfer export containers from warehouse to
moored ships. Their implementation of the model
and optimization algorithms is able to cope with
big problems which arise from operations on the
quayside [37].
8. Smart grid
Smart grid is an intelligent energy grid. This
network in ports is designed to power terminals
and warehouses by means of wind turbines or
photovoltaics. Çağatay Iris et al. described smart
grid in their publication. According to them, this is
the mathematical analysis aiming to configure and
design an intelligent network, what is the
advantageous research direction [30].
The problems encountered during the implementation
of modern port technologies were discussed, in
reference to bibliography and on the example of case
studies. The discussion covers also the legitimacy of
implementing innovative systems in seaports [53], in
order to improve their functionality. In accordance
with a detailed review of sixty-five publications, the
article identifies the most popular port technologies
from the last few years.
Cerulli et al. described the advantages of using
sensors and laser scanners in seaports. The new
Qianwan Container Terminal (QQCTN) in China uses
laser scanners, sensors and various positioning gauges
to handle containers in the port. Their implementation
has reduced the number of workers needed to reload
one ship in the port from 60 to 9. Terminal operating
costs have decreased by 70%. Efficiency has been
improved by 30% [13]. Wireless sensors "Waspmote"
were created by the company "Liblium" for use in
logistics management in ports and shipping. The
effects of their application were presented by
Rezapour and other authors, in the publication on the
use of WSN in seaports. In their opinion, the WSN
system enables to increase the safety of employees
and goods [9]. Another advantage is smart container
management [54].
At the seaport of Hamburg, the largest seaport in
Germany, the HPA links the seaport with the
technological port. They base their activities on three
pillars: infrastructure, traffic and trade [55]. According
to Cullinane & Song & Ji & Wang, the Internet of
Things has helped to develop a system in which trade
and traffic flow improved significantly and allowed
the port of Hamburg to become one of the strongest
ports in the world [15]. In a publication from 2020,
Moros-Daza and other authors presented the concept
of the Port Community System development from
1982 until the present moment - to the so-called
"fourth wave". The German PCS system is called
DAKOSY and, as the authors claim, it has
strengthened the position of the port among the
competitors [47]. However, Tsamboulas and Ballis
notice problems with the implementation of the PCS
system. They consider the system to be very
expensive, requiring dedication of time and effort to
be skillfully implemented. Another issue is to find
solutions to the needs of all stakeholders, who operate
in the port [66]. Not only Germany has this system.
Many seaports such as Rotterdam, Amsterdam,
Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Wilhelmshaven, Bremerhaven,
and others have implemented PCS [65]. In 2018, an
article by Meyer-Larsen and Müller was published. It
focused on the problems arising during the adoption
of this system. Scientists suggest that effective cyber
attacks against this system could lead to enormous
problems in the functioning of the ports [19, 28],
significant delays in the transport and, in extreme
cases, even stoppage [43].
According to Gordon et al., these are the IoT
system and innovations that make the port of
Singapore a world-class transshipment center [24].
In 2011, Siror, Huanye, and Dong explained in
their research the importance of the RFID system
using the example of the port of Kilindini, which is
one of the world's busiest logistics hubs [21]. On the
example of Mombasa, this system provides automatic
acquisition and tracking of containers, transport
vehicles and goods under supervision of
synchronized data exchange between the port,
shipyards, warehouses, customs authorities, and
freight forwarders [70].
Scientists, in their latest studies, have predicted
that in a few years' time around 200 ports in the world
will be automated [3]. Orive and co-authors of the
publication released in 2020, emphasize the
importance of automated ports all over the world.
They prepared the list which presents the largest ports
in the world which are fully or partly automated.
These ports mainly use as cargo handling equipment:
ARMG, C-ARMG, ASC, ARTG, AGV [12]. These are
inter alia:
ECT Europa Container TerminalRotterdam.
Euromax terminal
ECT Europa Container Terminal Rotterdam.
Delta Terminal
DP WorldAmberes Antwerp Gateway
Global Container Terminal—New York/New
Jersey. Global Terminals
Xiamen International Port CorpXiamen. Halcang
+ Fuijang
Shanghai International Port GroupShanghai.
According to UNCTAD reviews, containerization
is constantly growing. UNCTAD expects that this
growth will continue in the coming years. In reference
to those reviews, the introduction of automation of
operations and equipment in subsequent ports is
inevitable [74]. Douaioui et al. affirm that the
automated equipment of the port reduces the energy
costs of automated vehicles and optimizes routes. As a
result, the number of energy-intensive vehicles used
in the port terminal is optimized [16]. Automation is
associated with the risk of a cyber attack. According to
Wang and co-authors, it can lead to remote control of
computer systems. Cyber risk management is essential
[68]. In 2019, an article was published in which the
author gives the example of the Kenya Ports
Authority (KPA), which had automated processes
such as time management and payroll functions [46].
Scientists from the University of Rijeka emphasize the
importance of digitization in ports, pointing out the
joint forces of shipowners Maersk and IBM as an
example. These were them, who developed a solution
called "Tradelens". It aims to digitize global trade [33].
After a careful literature analysis, it could be
concluded that the next generation ports will use
automation, electrification and smart energy
management systems [30]. The Internet of Things
technology provides smart solutions to storage and
monitoring of data at the port. Modern remote
sensing technologies, such as RFID for identification
and location, cameras and built-in computer vision
algorithms, could contribute to safer and shorter
handling time in comparison to classic container
terminals. However, despite the significant
advantages of innovative solutions, there are also
difficulties. One of them is the expensiveness of this
facilities. Furthermore, the noticeable drawback is its
vulnerability to cyber attacks, which may occur more
frequently in case of digitization. The example of this
is the Maersk shipowner, therefore it is so important
to remember about proper security of systems.
According to many marine accident investigations,
the vast majority of maritime casualties are due to or
related to human error [29]. Hence it is necessary to
introduce modern port technologies to port systems.
Kaizer, Modzelewska and Borowski believe
information technologies in logistics allow us to
optimize the flow of goods and if a port wants to stay
ahead of the competition, it must invest in
information technology [45].
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