One of the world’s busiest seaports has committed to becoming the world’s most advanced – and they are relying on transformative digital infrastructure to make it happen.

PSA’s vision for the intelligent port of the future includes nearly doubling capacity using cutting-edge technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and more. Think of gate & yard operations, inter-terminal connections, shipside operations & a large fleet of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), and so on, all being turbocharged with live-video, advanced real-time telemetry, and more. This next generation port brings future-forward concepts like automated container handling, smart engineering, autonomous vehicles and more, to life.

Imagine a buzzing control center that can see tens-of-square-kilometers of its facility on a single dashboard and drill down anywhere and control anything, all with laser-like precision.

Inside the control center, the leadership team uses big data, analytics and AI for a variety of critical processes, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for clerical and repetitive processes.

That’s the vision, and it has become a reality. And we’re so proud to bring it all to life – all with near-100% uptime and an incredible amount of automation.

The leaders managing the port, while focused on the larger picture, are steadfast in their commitment to make the safety of the people who work there a number one priority; the security of the technology they rolled out and their ability to defend against physical as well as cyberthreats is no less important.

Their list of priorities, as broad as it might be, is the reason they’ve chosen to work with us. Cisco’s technology – from network to data center to security – all works together, each solution integrating with the other, communicating seamlessly to deliver a single pane of glass view across ‘everything everywhere’. Imagine an invisible fabric of technology that runs across the port, touching everything digital, powering everyone’s workflows. That’s us.

Think big, think outside the box, think without limitations

When Singapore and the executive leadership at PSA decided to build Tuas Port – an intelligent and sustainable port – they did not put any limitations on the reach of their imagination or vision. They did not think of technology within the bounds of what they had seen. They dared to dream big, and they believed they’ll find the technology and partners to make it happen.

Let’s take a simple example to demonstrate this.

A port’s campus and yard, often referred to as its “non-carpeted” area, often brings workplace safety into focus. It’s why anyone entering this zone is advised to wear a hard-hat and always watch their surroundings, especially as things around them are not stationary and significantly heavy equipment tend to move high above people on the ground constantly.

In the port of the future we’re helping to build, operators work remotely in the control center, and make informed decisions about container movements, with the help of live video feeds from a number of cameras mounted at different angles on each crane, and AI-powered software that helps make sense of it all.

With versatile and maneuverable electrified automated yard cranes, and AGVs used for the transport of containers between the yard and the wharf, port operations are managed remotely from the control center, freeing up resources while improving port productivity. At the same time, creating higher value and good jobs for the workforce who are now upskilled and reskilled.

There’s no doubt that the system itself in this case is marvelous – but behind the scenes, what really makes this work is a network that can support the high-quality video from the plethora of live cameras, the data center that can store and run analytics on those video feeds as well as tap into the telemetry of everything in the crane and container’s environment at any given moment, to help the system make those decisions.

That network is built to delivery near-100% uptime to ensure round-the-clock port operations.

Further, with so much being digitized, there’s a risk that the operational technology (OT) environment or IT infrastructure could be compromised, allowing cybercriminals to gain access to the control center or to any automated equipment – including cranes, putting operations at risk. That’s where end-to-end security across networks, the IoT environment, and extending to OT, comes into play.

Cisco’s solutions not only provide great connectivity, best-in-class data center solutions, and visibility & automation capabilities, but also delivers resilience in the face of a rapidly evolving threats landscape. That’s the foundation upon which to build the port of the future.

With our stack of solutions, Singapore’s port is able to dream big – beyond just the myriad of cranes it is transforming, further strengthening its position as a sustainable and future-ready global hub port that delivers service excellence on expectations, with precision, time and time again.

Why ports must focus on resilience, automation, and scalability

When a port goes all-in on digital, it removes a lot of the uncertainties associated with human-operated facilities. However, it does create new risks, and hence, there is a need to be prepared by investing in the right technology fabric and thinking ahead.

The heavy use of data – collecting information from hundreds of thousands of sensors to processing gigabytes of video data per second – means there’s an emphasis on resilience. The port needs a reliable network that can not only handle it all but also ensure that there’s zero downtime. Going offline means everything comes to a grinding halt.

The same goes for automation. Behind the scenes, there’s a number of technologies, solutions, and applications that work together to automate insight generation, decision making, and more. Maintenance and upkeep of the port automation systems have to be planned ahead, ensure upgrades and updates work seamlessly, and achieve operational agility, to ensure nothing falls apart when there’s an issue somewhere.

This might not be a cause for building redundancies but it’s definitely something to plan for. After all, as the old adage goes, “when you fail to plan, you simply plan to fail”.

Singapore’s next generation port is not going to be done as soon as it is built. There’s going to be a need to scale up in the near-term. And this is already in the plans.

Working with a partner like Cisco goes a long way to build resilience, automation, and scalability. Our experience working with enterprises across the world, in a variety of industries, in complex environments, gives us an edge in such projects, allowing us to bring great insights to mega projects – including developing the world’s largest fully automated port.

To see how we can help you bring your tech-driven vision to life, reach out to our team now.