How to make ports sustainable transport nodes

The trend of digitization, automation and electrification is creating great pressure on small and medium-sized ports. With limited resources, they must work together to make the transition from traditional ports modern transport nodes. This according to a new pre-study from Lighthouse made within the Swedish Transport Administration's industry program Sustainable Shipping.


“There is a desire among small and medium-sized ports to take a bigger grip and become transport nodes. But then, as a port, you need to think differently, change your business model and not only focus on the shipping side. You also need to secure that there to is a good flow to and from the port”, Sandra Haraldson, a researcher at RISE, says.

She, together with colleagues from RISE and the University of Gothenburg, took a closer look at the development of small and medium-sized ports to become an integral part of a sustainable transport system. There is a big pressure on them. You need not only relate to the development of technology, but on top of that also things like sustainability goals, transfer strategies and the increasingly high demands of transparency at all stages of the processing chain.

“Small and medium-sized ports are often local in the sense that they are limited by the conditions that exist in the region where they are situated. Usually they have no allocated resource working with this kind of development”

Sandra Haraldson continues:

“The five ports that participated in the study see a clear need to collaborate around these areas. They all have different solutions and by listening to each other they can learn a lot and create inspiration.”.

The pre-study identifies several areas for collaboration in digitalisation, automation and electrification. A major innovation project, also within the Swedish Transport Administration's industry program Sustainable Shipping, will focus on these areas.

“The project will be in two parts. One is based on the vision of the sustainable port as a node in the transport system - an approach that challenges the view of the traditional port. It is a visionary work that is carried out with all types of stakeholders in the industry. We then want to create a roadmap around how digitization, automation and electrification can help realize the vision.”

The second part of the innovation project focuses on the development of physical test arenas.

“The idea is that they will become a meeting point between suppliers and port operators. A place where it is possible to show, test and evaluate different technologies”, Sandra Haraldson says.