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ASEAN: Technology Is Crucial in Port Operations of the Future

Technology will play a crucial role in port operations of the future, Niam Chang Meng, Chairman of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, said while addressing the present at the opening ceremony of the 44th ASEAN Ports Association meeting on November 27 in Singapore.

“We are already seeing extremely fast take up in technology use in other industries and our industry cannot be too far behind. Much of these will be driven by lower technological cost and exponential growth in technological developments whether it be battery technology, autonomous vessel technology, nanotechnology or Artificial Intelligence (AI),” Meng said.

The port and shipping sectors are undergoing a major transformation at the moment with the restructuring of mega-alliances which has increased competition among ports. Increase in vessel sizes and the need for faster handling of vessels is another challenge the industry faces.

“Technology is disrupting and transforming the way the port industry operates – we will see more port operations being automated and in the longer term, autonomous surface vessels; changes in the global operating environment with new regulatory requirements will also play a key role in determining our effectiveness. We must address these and other challenges if we want to be relevant and compete with the rest of the world,” Meng added.

Technology today has reached a critical turning point and it has become much more powerful, integrative and useful, he continued.

However, the proper way forward in embracing technology is through cooperation and collaboration, according to Meng.

“We need to strengthen our level of collaboration and cooperation. We cannot go it alone anymore. Not only will that be difficult to do because of insufficient resources but it will also not be wise as we need to be plugged into the global grid so that we are aware of what is happening quickly and can help solve problems or seize opportunities.

We must collectively address the changes and transformations that are occurring in the shipping and port sector today if we are to continue to grow in future. Third: We need to collaborate and share knowledge and information. Cannot do it alone.

  Let me end with a quote from our former Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam in 1967 which I think is still very much relevant today. He said: If we don’t hang together, we shall all hang separately.”

The nine member nations of the APA are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN is currently seventh largest economy, with an estimated GDP growth averaging 5.4% by 2030.


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