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Looking for a smart port in a storm

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Modern ports are transforming and digitalising, but high-speed connectivity remains the backbone of any attempt to create a genuinely smart port, writes VINO GOVENDER DFA, Executive: Product Innovation and Marketing.

As digitisation drives a wave of technological innovation and integration, so an increasing number of industries and businesses are seeking to transform themselves into enterprises that are more data and insights driven. The port industry is no exception.

A modern port no longer only undertakes the traditional load and discharge, storage, and transfer functions, but is now becoming the catalyst for the development of the surrounding region’s economy, trade, and finance. Furthermore, the port has now become a key node of the modern logistics chain and thus has transformed into a focal point for the flow of commodities, capital, technology, and information.

Being part of both the larger transport and logistics supply chains and, in itself, being a cluster of companies and businesses active in these sectors, the modern port is in a unique position to fully leverage the efficiencies generated by digital technologies.

Ports can apply technology to address specific challenges in the areas of asset management and utilisation as well as operations uptime. Technology can also enable more effective levels of collaboration between port management, suppliers, and customers, which can lead to improved efficiencies in capacity planning and service delivery.

The critical areas of security can also be improved through IP-based security devices and access-control systems, which are integrated via security platforms to the broader security ecosystem, including border control, private security, and the police services. The use of high-definition camera monitoring and biometric-based identity- and access-management systems provides tighter control and visibility on access and movement patterns within the port.  In addition to this, the implementations of wireless networks that can be backhauled by fibre are extremely useful in respect of asset tracking and vehicle monitoring.

Of course, the most critical requirement for any port seeking to transform itself from merely a node in the goods journey to one that serves as an integrated logistics supplier is a backbone of high-speed broadband connectivity.

High-speed connectivity is the essential foundation for the transmission of any and all information related to port operations. It is necessary for stakeholders who need access to systems as it enables access to common cloud-based business applications for port administration. There is no doubt that a strategic shift is taking place in respect of these facilities, where size is no longer the primary focus, but rather efficiency and effectiveness of operations. In the near future, it will no longer be the largest port that gets all the business, but rather the smartest one.

The advantages of a backbone of high speed connectivity, backed by the relevant IT systems, are multiple. Such an implementation can enable these new ‘digital ports’ to:

·         Improve cargo handling efficiency, as well as collection and distribution capabilities

·         Support the kind of reliable and uninterrupted IT services required for 24/7 operations

·         Play a vital role in connecting the port to the rest of the region it supports, enabling it to truly integrate its logistics chain

·         Provide a massive boost to the operation management system, thereby assisting with increasing load and discharge and yarding efficiency, improving overall port performance, and reducing operating costs

·         Deliver the backbone for a high-definition, real-time CCTV monitoring system that significantly boosts the safety and security of the port, helping to protect it against both criminal and terrorist intent

·         Deliver business collaboration services for terminal, shipper, consignee, forwarder, shipping line, customs, and other shipping stakeholders, boost the overall performance of the maritime logistics chain, and assist the port in providing more efficient and quality services to its customers and suppliers.

With a high-speed connectivity backbone in place, ports will also be positioned to undertake the next phase of digitalization, where new services either replace or augment traditional port operations. The most notable of these will be the connection of everything of relevance within the port to the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT technologies are already being applied in diverse settings – from last-mile transport optimisation to warehouse- and transport-management systems. The IoT is equally useful in terms of the logistics value chain, assisting management to understand more clearly not only what has been delivered and to where but also when it left and when it arrives at its destination.

The combination of IoT, smart data solutions and high-speed connectivity will enable ports of the future to identify and take advantage of new business models within the larger ecosystem. It will also create opportunities for new, non-traditional parties – such as technology companies and developers – to create applications and solutions for stakeholders targeted at improving performance or enhancing the business of the port itself.

Looking at this, there is no doubt that a backbone of high speed connectivity, allied to a vision that fully capitalises on the application of digital technologies, including the IoT, data- and insights-driven processes and business applications and IP-based communications and collaboration services, will be the driving force that creates the world’s first true smart ports.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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