In the face of rapid global change, many organisations are diving headfirst into the vast landscape of digital transformation. The international port industry is no exception as it strives to meet increasing international trade demands by embracing smart technologies and data management.  

As one of Australia's busiest ports, the Port of Melbourne has crafted a long-term strategy to future-proof its operations towards 2050. A key element in realising this strategic vision is the asset visualisation transformation. The Port of Melbourne has partnered with Beca to set out a strategy for success and create a solid foundation for future digital solutions. Beca's Digital and Innovation Leader, Luke Carvell, offers insight into our approach:

"It’s normal to want to think about digital transformation as only software or products. That approach can be like a hammer looking for a nail: a solution not grounded against a problem or a use case. Our approach with the Port of Melbourne is problem orientated placing the focus on long-term strategy instead of individual tools”.

Port of Melbourne’s 2050 Port Development Strategy 

The Port of Melbourne’s 2050 Port Development Strategy aims to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the port over the next 30 years. Ten core projects at the Port underpin Victoria's growing needs. At its core lies a planning framework that will adapt and evolve over time, enabling flexibility and a future-proof asset visualisation strategy.

As demands on international freight grow and globalisation continues, the significance of highly efficient port operations becomes clear. So too does the data and information regarding the port and its operations.

With a substantial capital investment plan constituting a vital part of the Port Development Strategy, it’s essential to establish a robust and reliable foundation in asset data. The industry often faces challenges stemming from the historical nature of port assets, with documentation sometimes consisting of segregated or hand-drawn records. Thus, digitisation plays an indispensable role in securing the port's infrastructure and paving the way for its future success.

Building a strong foundation for an incredible future

By analysing current systems and exploring future digital possibilities, Beca has helped the Port of Melbourne define their current position and chart the course for their digital transformation journey ahead with an Asset Visualisation Strategy. The resulting roadmap considers the ever-evolving nature of technology, helping all future asset visualisation investments to align with the port's long-term strategic vision.

Two core aspects make our collaboration stand out:

1. On-the-ground perspective: Partnering with an organisation like Beca, which has extensive experience with port infrastructure, enables a level of corporate empathy beyond what a purely consultative relationship can offer. These nurtures trust within the partnership, provides unique insights into the Port of Melbourne's operational processes, and supports realistic solutions.

2. Demonstration of possibility: The Port of Melbourne benefits from Beca's advisory capability and proven track record in delivering best-practice digital strategy solutions across numerous industries. This expertise exposes the port to an array of sophisticated, smart, and sustainable possibilities.

Together, these approaches lay the groundwork for asset visualisation transformation, paving the way for future-proofing. As Beca’s Ports and Maritime Asset Management Lead Senior Associate Deven Sumputh explains:

"Digital transformation is limitless. Once you have a robust system in place, you can continuously add to it and enjoy the cross-functional benefits. That's why getting the foundations right is absolutely vital."

What can other Australian ports learn from this collaboration?

1. Let real-world problems inform real-world questions: As co-designers and partners for the Port of Melbourne's asset visualisation future, Beca focused on identifying and documenting pain points and long-range outcomes. This approach informed the framework that sets the stage for all future digital decisions. Deven explains, "Flipping the approach means understanding what you need, how to use it, who will use the data, and what needs to be captured. Then, working backward by asking the right questions."

2. Focus on the fundamentals: Partnering with an organisation like Beca helped the Port of Melbourne understand the vast impact of transformation on all aspects of the organisation and the opportunity to genuinely address operational and industry complexities.

3. Avoid adopting technology for the sake of technology: While other ports have pursued cutting-edge technology with varying levels of success, it's essential to maintain a holistic and whole-of-life perspective. Driving the transformation from the client side, with the end goal in mind, makes sure everything is captured, preventing potential failure due to a narrow focus on specific solutions or asset classes.

Beca's partnership with the Port of Melbourne, supporting their 2050 Port Development Strategy, establishes a benchmark for other Australian ports. By adopting a collaborative, long-term approach with the right partner, the Port of Melbourne is leading the Australian ports industry and securing its place on the global stage.

About the Author
Luke Carvell

Digital Innovation Leader - T&I Australia

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