Port of Oulu is a pioneer in port digitalisation. With the support of its extensive network, the port is building a diverse digital infrastructure, benefitting customers and port operators alike. Lead partner Solita brings comprehensive customer understanding and technology expertise to different stages of the journey.
The northern port sets an example with bold digital development
The Finnish city of Oulu is the logistics centre of Northern Europe. The Port of Oulu is a junction for sea, rail and road traffic, enabling efficient transportation to all of northern Scandinavia and to Russia.
A so-called multi-operator environment poses a unique challenge for the port that handles three types of traffic: rail, sea and rubber tyres. Operators vary from stevedores, pilots and icebreakers to waste management and maintenance as well as the Finnish Customs and other authorities. They all need to work seamlessly together. That is why the Port of Oulu is investing in its digital infrastructure.
Lead partner Solita has helped the port in creating a roadmap to guide all digital development. Among other ventures, the partners are currently working on a mobile application that will become a daily tool for port operators along with a data platform to house data on port operations and real-time snapshots. These initiatives pay into the goal of making the port more reliable, safer and more efficient.
“We want to be the most valued logistics partner in Northern Europe, and digitalisation plays a significant role in that,” says Mira Juola who leads the Port of Oulu’s digitalisation project. “We do what’s best for the export and import industry in northern Finland. A functioning digital infrastructure serves our vast ecosystem as well as our existing and new customers.”
"We want to be the most valued logistics partner in Northern Europe, and digitalisation plays a significant role in that." Mira Juola, Port of Oulu's digitalisation project lead
From Post-it notes to vision for development
Three years ago, the Port of Oulu and Solita dived into the possibilities of the port’s digitalisation. Ideas were floated, but the overall objective was unclear.
“At first, we didn’t fully understand how big a challenge we were tackling. We knew we needed digital services. We reasoned we should have a smart way to collect and share information in a multi-operator environment. We knew that everything should play well together,” says Juola.
In workshops, small ideas landed under bigger headlines. Solita dived into the everyday life of a port customer, identifying critical points of contact that could be improved with digital development. The starting point became clear, and a vision and themes for digital development emerged.
The details have since evolved as the port’s digital ambition has grown. But the roadmap still guides the work – all development efforts support the port’s vision to be the most valued logistics partner in northern Europe.
“Together with our network, we’re building a port of the future. A port that uses modern agile tools, collects and shares information with the entire ecosystem, and bases decisions on data,” sums Juola.
"We’re building a port of the future."Mira Juola, Port of Oulu's digitalisation project lead
Mobile app and data platform to unite all port operators
Milestones have already been reached. Recently, the Port of Oulu was awarded for a novel 5G solution for a project in which the port develops, tests and makes use of the first 5G solutions for industry and logistics. A dynamic and interactive platform, a so-called digital twin, is also being developed for modelling and planning port operations.
Solita is currently developing a mobile application that will, for instance, give truck drivers clever instructions, tell the exact time for a vessel’s berthing, warn of potentially dangerous situations, and allow for easy reporting of security incidents. The app will come with many features, but its goal is clear: to make everyday life easier for the end user. The first port operators will get the app in their pockets in the autumn of 2020.
An extensive data platform project is also proceeding in the background with the support of Solita and other partners. The goal is to build a modern, agile and scalable platform that adapts to real-time snapshots, utilisation of historical data, plus simulation and forecasting.
“Real-time data improves the security of the port area and the situational awareness of operators. Historical data helps us forecast and plan our operations better,” Juola explains.
The benefits of digital development for the Port of Oulu
Security: Better visibility to vehicles and cargo in the port.
Efficiency: Fewer overlapping processes save time and resources.
Reliability: Deeper customer relationships through improved, targeted services.
All-in-one partner ushers the development
Three years ago, big challenges lay ahead. A template for a common operating model was missing. Owned IT infrastructure didn’t exist. But the virgin soil, in Juola’s experience, was ideal for digital development.
“We’ve hardly had to learn away from old systems or practices. We’ve been lucky to build everything with a clean slate. “
Juola is pleased with the technical competence and customer understanding Solita has brought to the project from the start. Work becomes easier when you get a diverse set of skills under one roof.
“Solita is a strong, long-term player in data processing and analytics. Around the same table, you have the skills for building APIs and cloud services. Solita also has a clear understanding of what’s best for the end user, or cargo owners. Together, we’re building an increasingly reliable, safer and more efficient port. “
Thanks to the bold approach to digital development, the Port of Oulu is also preparing to welcome autonomous modes of transport in the future.
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