I2PANEMA - The future of connecting international port stakeholders


Globalisation is one of the most important topics of the 21st century and continues to affect international trade. The Port of Hamburg, Europe’s third-largest container port, has therefore been involved in the I2PANEMA research project since the start of the project at the end of 2019. In cooperation with international partners from research and industry, the HPA is working on innovative IoT solutions to improve connectivity with trading partners and increase process efficiency in daily port operations.

To learn more about this exciting research project and gain insights into the current state of research, we spoke with Julia Wernecke, the project manager for I2PANEMA at the HPA. In the following interview, you can read about the topics that are currently in focus, what the name stands for and what problems the project has to deal with.

homePORT: Julia, can you first explain what the project is about and what the abbreviation I2PANEMA actually stands for?

J: The main motivation for our project is to strengthen cooperation between European ports. So far, processes in sea and inland ports are often still handled in an analogue way and digitalisation in the industry has progressed comparatively slowly in the past – this naturally makes modern cooperation more difficult. IT systems that have already been implemented are mostly singular solutions from individual ports and the data collected is therefore very heterogeneous. This makes it difficult to integrate them into a comprehensive control system and makes broad, digital cooperation almost impossible. In addition, the fear of IT security gaps is growing in ports. This is exactly the problem we want to address in the project. The acronym I2PANEMA results from the project title “Intelligent IoT-based Port Artefacts Communication and Maintenance”. Essentially, it stands for our goal of promoting the spread of secure plug-and-play IoT technologies in the port environment in order to optimise the efficiency and sustainability of port-associated processes. Specifically, we are running a requirements analysis based on various example use cases and – building on this – developing an IoT reference architecture that allows for a high degree of interoperability. This should make it possible to introduce secure IT and IoT solutions in a standardised form in a wide variety of ports and also ensure simplified cooperation between ports and port stakeholders. It is precisely this cooperation that will be increasingly in demand in the future in order to digitally map supply chains and to be able to quickly identify and eliminate vulnerabilities.

homePORT: As can be seen on the HPA’s partner page, this is not a project that is being carried out by the HPA alone. Who are the project partners and what role does the HPA play?

J: In addition to the HPA, 16 other partners from Germany, Spain and Turkey are involved. These are also ports or actors from research and industry. Like the other participating ports, the HPA is a use case donor in the project, so to speak. We define which specific use cases are to be demonstrated here in Hamburg and coordinate the implementation. For our Hamburg use cases, we work closely with the Fraunhofer IML, the Fraunhofer CML as well as with the start-up NautilusLog and the security experts from NXP.

homePORT: Why is the project relevant and forward-looking for international ports?

J: Our project is intended to provide valuable impulses for the standardisation of IoT solutions and thus promote the widespread use of digital technologies in European sea and inland ports. Such a standardised development framework has the potential to strengthen the cooperation between ports and thereby reinforce the competitiveness of European ports.

homePORT: Can you give us an insight into the current status of the project and explain further milestones? When should the project be completed?

J: In Hamburg, we are currently working on three use cases: In one, the current energy demand of container ships is to be determined via an intelligent logbook and shared with the HPA together with further information on the planned port call. From this, we would like to create a power forecast for the layover in the port of Hamburg that is as accurate as possible. This prototypical process should help to ensure that the ships register their power consumption in good time during later regular operation and can thus be supplied with the cheapest possible energy at the planned shore power facilities. Another use case also concerns the standardised exchange of data via a logbook. In this case, the data is to be used for a simplified registration of environmentally related port use discounts. In both cases, we are already looking at the necessary data for the definition of a standardised interface. In the third use case, we are working closely with the operator of the local ferry service, HADAG Seetouristik und Fährdienst AG. Together with our partner from research and industry, we want to develop real-time passenger information for them so that passengers can see via smartphone at any time whether their ferry is running on time as usual and what the current passenger volume is. To this end, we have already laid the foundations for digital operational control and will next venture into the technical equipment of the first ships. The corresponding software will then be developed and tested in an agile manner. Our goal is to be able to demonstrate the first results by the ITS World Congress in 2021. Overall, the project will run until the end of May 2022.

homePORT: What are the biggest challenges or problems at the moment?

J: Actually, the time between the submission of the project application and the final approval by the project sponsor was very long. Due to the constantly changing project environment, our actually planned use case was no longer quite up to date at the time of approval, so we had to look for alternatives at short notice. This caused us some delay, which we are currently trying to catch up on. Due to the pandemic and the associated restrictions, this is not exactly easy. Although the international nature of the project meant that digital cooperation was already a high priority, on-site visits often make it easier to understand what needs to be done or to tackle the practical testing of hardware, for example, together. Nevertheless, we are on the right track and are confident that we will be able to achieve our goals.

homePORT: homePORT has already opened its doors virtually and will also set up a physical campus in the port this spring. The focus will also be on future technologies such as drones, sensors and IoT applications. What opportunities do you think there are to use homePORT for your project?

J: homePORT offers a wonderful platform for exchange and networking. I would like us to present I2PANEMA to other stakeholders as part of homePORT and generate new impulses for optimising the applications through their feedback. In the same way, we would also like to share our experiences with others so that they can perhaps learn from us and also directly use our IoT reference architecture for their applications.

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