ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ports and shipping ministry said it will spend 929 million rupees to modernise information technology at Colombo port to make it a ‘smart port’ with many automated functions to improve efficiency.
Ports, Shipping and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said he expects the process of IT upgrades to streamline terminal management and cargo systems to be completed in 12-18 months.
"There are many technical aspects to this. For instance, the upgraded Terminal Management System will include gate automation, yard automation, (and) quay side automation.”
The initiative will include using satellite-based DGPS or Differential Global Positioning Systems which provide improved location accuracy to make best use of container handling equipment within port terminals and increase productivity.
It will also include business intelligence tools, web portals and simulation tools, Ratnayaka said in a statement.
‘Smart ports’ globally use IT and data analytics to make the best use of available terminal space, equipment and time to become more competitive and attractive to customers.
"In layman’s terms, this means Colombo Port will operate with greater efficiency and handle a greater volume of activities within a shorter period of time with the use of advanced IT and information systems," Ratnayaka explained.
"Transforming Colombo into a Smart Port is a timely need."
A full-scale IT infrastructure drive is currently underway to transform Colombo — Sri Lanka’s busiest port — into a ‘smart port’.
Ratnayaka said 929 million rupees has been allocated for the project, which has been included in the Asian Development Bank-supported master plan for Sri Lanka’s port development.
Colombo’s transformation into a Smart Port will ensure the development of a collaborative approach that will make the port ‘smart’ in terms of flow, situation or customer management, Ratnayaka said.
"This is a long-drawn process that will happen over time with rapidly advancing technology. But our Smart Port initiative will lay the groundwork for the longer-term transformation with the right IT and tech infrastructure.
"What we need to understand is that being smart is a mindset,” Ratnayaka said.
“Colombo must embrace the Smart Port concept with the right frame of mind. This is not about upgrading IT and information systems and forgetting everything else. Cleanliness of the port, the attitude of workers, its administration and welfare should also be geared towards the same transformation," he added.