PTI spoke to:
Dr. Eva Savelsberg, SVP, INFORM
INFORM has proven that they are not shy to explore the future and what it might hold for our industry. From their original 2038: A Smart Port Story through to insightful presentations at both our CTAC and SDP events over the past years, they are always pushing the boundaries of today. In this exclusive interview with Port Technology International, Eva Savelsberg, SVP, INFORM talks about the economic trends that will come to shape our industry over the coming decades, why diversity and data are at the heart of INFORM’s strategy moving forward, and the role of humans in the automation equation.
PART 1: OUR INDUSTRY
What do you see as the large economic trends that the maritime industry needs to be focusing on over the coming decade?
The first trend is our focus on sustainability. As a society, we see we probably have to do a lot more to address sustainability in all its different facets. To be successful in the future. To hand over a functioning Earth to our kids and grandchildren. To tap into the potential of diversity.
A further trend is also the shift of the global center of economic gravity, which will shift to the East over the next decades, and this will also bring decisive changes to us. Today, we are a very well-educated, affluent society, and I believe, especially within the EU, our voice has a value. Perhaps this value might shrink over the next decades. I’m not convinced we are prepared for this situation. It addition, how the Unites States positions itself globally will also impact us.
Finally, the African youth bulge will play a part in shaping our industry. While many European and Asian societies are, or will shrink, 60% of the African society is under 25 and will grow over the next decades. From an economic point of view, today trading routes are strong between China and Europe, China and the U.S. But, having all the young people in Africa, those routes will change undoubtedly in the future. Are we prepared for that? How do we want to participate in this shift of trade?
You noted that sustainability is more than just climate sustainability. INFORM has embraced the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Why?
INFORM is already quite a mature company. We are 50 years old. Early on, the spirit of the company grew to base their strategies on sustainability. Sustainability in terms of customer relationships, in terms of cooperation with the employees, and giving them a healthy and satisfying working environment. The move to adopt the UN’s SDGs wasn’t a big step as it is in our genes. At a management level, we’ve formulated our thinking that it’s not only about profit, but it’s as well about people and planet – three “Ps” instead of just the one.
If the world is changing around us, many would argue that means that we need to be more innovative in our industry. What’s your view on innovation?
I think the industry has some challenges with innovation. The margins are not so great, we have very long asset cycles, and profit has to split between different parties. As such it’s not easy to bring on innovations and to take the risks. I think perhaps, for the time being, it’s not so much about what’s the next huge innovation we haven’t thought of. I think there is a big challenge in adapting all those innovations, which are already out there.
Take, for example, autonomous vessels or the smart port and the smart city concepts. How do we implement these ideas and make them actually work? How do we introduce cyber-physical-human systems into the port business? Connected to that, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Digital Twins. These are a big step forward in digitalization. We’ve already thought about them, so it’s not “innovation” per se. The real question is how do we implement these ideas to have them working smoothly while also taking care of the cybersecurity issues coming with increased digitization?
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