The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) has launched a pilot project called “virtual depot” after a successful test phase in 2015. The project is basically a platform for optimising empty containers by synchronising availability among packing companies. Once a shipping company has released a container, the packing companies can contact each other via the IT system. The project is a result of co-operation between the Trade Association of Container Packing Companies and IBM.
Cheaper, empty container logistics
Christian Schultze-Wolters, Division Manager North & East at IBM, said: “The cloud based system allows packing companies to find other companies’ empty containers that can be returned to a depot and to reserve a direct swop.” This transparent exchange of data between participants in the project will not only reduce unnecessary empty container transport, but will ease traffic on roads in the port and will lead to cheaper empty container logistics.”
11 shipping companies taking part
The HPA estimates that empty container logistics account for over 1 million annual truck transports in Hamburg port alone. The virtual depot will help avoid unnecessary, empty container transports. Frank Horch, Senator for Economics, said: “That makes economic sense and is good for the environment also.” At present, over half of all members of the Trade Association of Container Packing Companies and eleven shipping companies are taking part in the project.