by Jan-Philipp Horstmann
What makes my port „smart“?


Do things right and talk about it. Share gained information with others and benefit from it together. Save time and money by a trustful use of data and working together. Smart Port Logistics stands for all this.

We show you the potential of automation and smart port processes and offer insight into our leogistics Port solution for mapping maritime processes in SAP. 


The formation of networks and alliances with the aim of exchanging information makes logistical processes more comparable. In a digitalized and globally networked logistics system, benchmarking is facilitated, and the competition has figures available on dispatch and handling times. New logistic alternatives are emerging, such as the new Silk Road for landside traffic. Competitive pressure is increasing. 

The degree of process automation can be a unique selling point in order to save costs, time and increase process reliability. 


Digitize your processes to have relevant data available for automation measures.

The easiest way to ensure real-time information about loading and discharging operations, inventory changes and the availability of specific freight units for further processes is to use mobile devices. This also includes information for cost-revenue analysis, which can be transferred promptly to a billing module. Finally, real-time information on cargo movements allows the measurement of service level agreements and progress in cargo handling. 


A large variety of information can be recorded during cargo handling in the port: 

  • Where was a unit picked up and dropped off?
  • Who carried out the activity and when?
  • Which equipment was used? 

If the data from process execution and billing are recorded in detail, interesting conclusions can be drawn for you: 

  • Transferred to an artificial intelligence, ideal contract designs can be derived from the data.
  • You can create heatmaps to identify bottlenecks during loading and unloading operations. Is there an increase in traffic at certain points? Where exactly are delays occurring between the point of check-in and check-out?

Heatmaps are an excellent reporting tool for identifying areas of high intensity or frequency.


As the heart of the port logistics processes, we first want to examine the loading and unloading processes with regard to their automation potential.

LINKING OF PROCESSES  If information from tracking devices or telematics units is accessible, provisioning processes can be automated and preparatory work measures triggered. 
THE LIFTING PROCESS During lifting operations, a container can be weighed to check whether the gross weight stated in the Bill of Lading is correct. A statement can be made as to whether the box contains the specified goods. Condition checks can also be automated using technical enhancements. 
TRACKING OF CARGO UNITS The greatest potential for optimising cargo movements lies in unit tracking. In order to automate as much as possible the process from receipt to storage to loading, a suitable device for electronic readability must be attached to the cargo unit at an early stage. 


In addition to the handling of ships, the handling of trucks also offers opportunities to save costs and above all time through automation. Two factors can negatively influence the processing speed of trucks: Complex check-in processes due to security checks and loss of time when calling up from waiting places to the loading or unloading zone.  

How to deal with these problems?

  • The check-in process can be standardized as far as possible and carried out as a continuous process on a tablet. Predefined questions form the basis of the verification and signatures are executed directly on the device. 
  • Use the check-in and check-out timestamps to calculate the current truck processing time and share it in a portal. Your network partners are always thus informed how much time they need to plan for the next visit to your terminal. 
  • Self-check-in terminals, where the driver registers with a turn-in, turn-out or order number sent in advance, shorten the check-in time, especially at peak times, as several entries can be made at the same time.
  • Video gates can inspect containers for damage during check-in and check-out, and store photos to counteract claims for recourse (has the damage occurred in the terminal?) regarding correct handling afterwards. Using OCR technology, cameras can recognize license plates and container numbers and thus further automate the process in order to come one step closer to the goal of the "smart" port


Similar to truck handling, port railway processes can be improved through partial automation, especially at arrival and departure. In addition to electronic track occupancy overviews and electronically available shunting orders as well as mobile feedback of railcar movements, the following checks should be mentioned:

  • Automated camera recording of railcar numbers
  • Train sequence check by measurement of centre distances
  • Mobile comparison of railcar conditions with electronic damage list


Automation and the conversion to "smart" processes require the right IT infrastructure. For this reason, we would like to introduce our port logistics solution, leogistics Port.

Our SAP-based solution for terminal and port logistics includes functionalities for the planning of maritime logistics processes, the management of ship arrivals, the handling of discharging and loading processes, inventory management and the billing of warehousing and other services. leogistics Port is rounded off by further components of leogistics d.s.c for the areas of truck yard control, port railway and reporting.


With a document flow across all hierarchy levels, you have the necessary information for planning, execution, reporting, and settlement in one place.

The basis for mapping logistical processes in leogistics Port is the individually defined order concept, which can map processes and information at various hierarchy levels. 


In order to become aware of possible bottlenecks in voyage planning or with required equipment at an early stage, it makes sense to combine ship arrivals, schedules and available resources in one planning Gantt chart. 

Berth planning in the Gantt chart makes it possible to identify bottlenecks at an early stage and to recognize negative effects early on and allow for adjustments to be made ahead of time. If corresponding contract information is stored in the system, estimated demurrage costs can be shown in the berth planning.


The overview of booked and free berths in a portal increases transparency.


Where are the goods to be loaded? How many trucks are currently on the terminal? Is my berth available?

Like exact coordinates for cargo units, the visualization of means of transport can also increase transparency in the port. AIS information for tracking ship positions, sensors on jetty’s and tracking devices on trucks enable exact locations and thus automation of processes to the greatest possible extent. Demurrage and idle times can be avoided if the individual movements are clocked and orchestrated by IoT-controlled process management.


An overview shows free and occupied berths with live data.

It is advisable to track the progress of ship handling in detail in order to check one's own performance, but also to demonstrate it to customers. Detect planned/actual deviations at an early stage and initiate countermeasures.  


The greatest complexity in the billing of logistics and maritime services in the port environment lies in the often complex and historical contracts between the logistics service provider and the customer. As a rule, the payroll bases are not very standardized and have individual features that need to be considered when preparing the payroll run. The continuous document flow with leogistics Port already shown makes it possible to get a grip on the variety of possible billable services and to automate the process as far as possible. 


Current market changes as a result of the formation of networks and alliances as well as new technical possibilities (such as IoT, Blockchain and KI) have a strong impact on current and future IT projects in the maritime environment. 

The switch to Industry 4.0 represents a major challenge for port and terminal operators: Adaptation measures to new ship sizes require an enormous amount of time and capacity, which are then lacking for necessary digitization projects. For terminal and port operators, there are a number of possible measures, most of which have to be located in adjustments to the current IT infrastructure. We are happy to review your existing processes and IT systems in your logistics, and with you derive concrete steps to make your processes "smart".

If you have any questions about this or other topics on the blog, please contact

Jan-Philipp Horstmann 
Michel Templin 
Consultants SAP Logistics 

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