The deadly spread of COVID-19, and the economic and trade disruption the pandemic has caused, is prompting port managers to examine new ways to improve risk management and digital processes, according to the latest biennial global ports survey conducted by Remy InfoSource.
The 2020 iSpec Ports Industry Survey was undertaken during the height of worldwide economic lockdowns in the second quarter of 2020 by Remy InfoSource, the lifecycle contract management specialist behind iSpec, the world’s leading web and mobile-based software procurement solution for buyers of capital intensive outsourced projects such as ports.
It revealed that more than half (51%) of port executive respondents now identify risk management as the key area they would like to improve on in the future, up from 32% in the previous iteration of the iSpec Ports Industry Survey in 2018.
In 2018 the top two areas for improvements noted by ports and terminal executives were ‘shorter lead times’ and ‘more standardisation’.
‘Risk management’ was also the leading reason pinpointed by respondents when asked to identify the most problematic issues they encounter when managing complex outsourced projects (see chart).
In the 2018 iSpec Ports Industry Survey ‘tracking project compliance and delivery’ was the most problematic area identified by respondents.
“I think it’s no surprise that in such an uncertain world the importance of risk management has increased dramatically,” said Pieter Boshoff, CEO of Remy InfoSource.
“Disruption to supply chains has increased across the globe causing operational and investment uncertainty and, with social distancing rules, also changing the way we all conduct our business.
“Managing that risk has become a major challenge at ports, particularly when it comes to managing outsourced equipment tender and procurement projects that are often complex in nature and frequently involve multiple vendors.”
71% of the respondents to the 2020 iSpec Ports Industry Survey were port operators, up from 58% in 2018, with over two thirds of respondents responsible for the procurement of quay cranes, reach stackers and trailers.
Asked how the COVID-19 lockdown had affected the way ports were conducting business, 41% of global respondents said the pandemic had required a shift to more digital collaboration, 49% said more projects were now on hold, while 62% said they were now working from home more often.
The 2020 iSpec Ports Industry Survey also found that ‘quality’ has become the leading reason for customer/supplier disputes. In the 2018 iSpec Ports Industry Survey ‘delays’ was cited most often as the cause of customer/supplier disputes.
“No matter what the business, the spread of coronavirus has forced executives to find new ways of conducting business and for the most part this means turning to digital solutions,” said Mr Boshoff.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this is a trend that will accelerate in the future. It is becoming abundantly clear that for many businesses there are benefits and efficiencies in the new online and outsourced methods they have developed during the pandemic. I think many of the work processes adopted during lockdowns, particularly around communication, will outlast the coronavirus crisis and become part of our normal way of working.”