Technological Centre

Javier Sánchez: “The logistics-port sector is currently facing numerous challenges, including the technological revolution and the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies”.

Grupo Nogar is a Galician business group with a track record of more than 60 years. Thanks to its loyal commitment to its customers and its strong commitment to technology, R&D&I and positive environmental policies, it has managed to position itself as a benchmark in the maritime-port, logistics and commercial market. Today we talk to its Head of R&D&I Department, Javier Sánchez, who will give us an overview of the sector.

Javier Sánchez, R&D Manager Grupo Nogar.

  1. Grupo Nogar is a benchmark company in port logistics and maritime trade, which began its activity in 1957. How has it managed to position itself and improve in this market?

A track record of more than 60 years in the sector based on commitment, perseverance and hard work has enabled the Grupo Nogar to position itself as a benchmark in the maritime-port logistics and trade world.

To this we must add a strategic vision, successful planning and having had over the years a team of professionals who are experts in the sector, always focused and aligned towards the continuous improvement of the services offered to its customers, trying to ensure that they are always of the highest possible quality.

  1. What have been the main challenges faced by the port industry? And what are the current ones?

The maritime industry has historically been very traditional, and many of its processes are still very manual today.

The port-logistics sector faces many challenges today, including the technological revolution and the implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Some of the biggest challenges facing the maritime-port sector in the face of the technological revolution are increasing efficiency and reducing costs, ensuring data security and privacy, and improving sustainability. The implementation of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics can significantly improve ship loading and unloading processes, reducing waiting time and associated costs. However, as the industry digitises, the risks of cyber-attacks and the need to protect sensitive data increase.

The technological revolution presents numerous challenges such as those mentioned above for the maritime-port sector, but also offers great opportunities to improve the efficiency, sustainability and security of the industry.

Among the most important specific challenges facing the port logistics industry today, I would highlight the following:

1) The power of anticipation and flexibility of response to the growth in demand, the growing level of excellence and efficiency demanded by customers, in an increasingly competitive and digitalised ecosystem and environment.

2) The transformation of processes and business models associated with port logistics.

3) The digitalisation of operations and their monitoring in real time.

4) The coexistence of innovation with the operational part.

In addition to all this, we must not lose sight of other very important aspects, linked to European strategies and policies and to the SDGs of the United Nations in terms of sustainability, carbon footprint, CO2 emissions or energy consumption, which must be present among the strategic points of port companies.

  1. How do you think innovation and technology development can help to overcome these challenges?

Undoubtedly, technological development and innovation must be a fundamental pillar for the port ecosystem to overcome the different challenges and problems faced by the sector in the present and future context.

It is essential to create a culture of innovation within companies, to adequately manage the knowledge generated both internally and with potential collaborators involved and to implement collaborative models between the agents and actors involved in the business processes involved in order to achieve transparency and global visibility of the process for all members of the logistics chain.

In this sense, both the development of specific technology and the implementation of technologies can help to overcome the present and future challenges that may arise in the port logistics sector.

The use of Big Data, the creation of integrated and/or centralised data models, data analytics and visualisation, the development of machine learning or AI models, simulation and monitoring of processes in real time, including sensors and IoT devices at key points.

This is just a small example of the conglomerate of existing technologies that can be applied to port logistics operations and services and that are already contributing to the digital transformation of the sector, facilitating collaboration between the agents involved, accessing real-time information on processes that contributes to anticipation and flexibility of response or to making strategic decisions in an informed manner.

  1. In relation to technologies, Grupo Nogar has led the SMARTSTORE project, where 4.0 technologies have been developed to improve port logistics. Why do you see the need to invest in the optimisation of these processes?

In the case of the technologies developed in the context of this project, in many cases, these were processes that had been carried out in the traditional way for a long time. This resulted in manual procedures with a low level of automation, digitisation and standardisation, which made them a great consumer of time and resources and in some cases were associated with inefficiencies that were intended to be minimised or eliminated as far as possible.

In other cases, it was a question of developing technology to solve problems for which there was no commercial solution and for which the company was eager to find an answer to improve the quality of the services offered to customers, always seeking to provide added value and differentiate itself from the competition.

It was necessary to consider an evolution based on Industry 4.0 technologies to contribute to an overall improvement in efficiency and standardisation.

In many of the pilots developed during the project, the digitalisation and automation of the process has also led to the integration of data, so that these processes can now be monitored almost in real time and remotely, allowing the information to be used by the different departments involved.

 

«Collaborating with a benchmark multi-sectoral Technological Centre such as CETIM facilitates progress in the projects and accelerates the conception and execution of the ideas put forward»

 

  1. The project has been developed in collaboration with several companies and our Technological Centre. What are the benefits for Grupo Nogar of being part of this type of collaboration?

A project in collaboration with other companies in our sector and a Technological Centre such as CETIM, has had very important advantages for us.

For example, there is a continuous process of learning, acquisition and sharing of new technological knowledge and experiences between the different entities that have collaborated in the project.

In addition, despite being a development phase, new possibilities for improvement on the initially proposed objectives or new applications and processes within the company are identified in which it is possible to implement some of the revised technologies to solve the initially proposed problems.

In this sense, collaborating with a benchmark multi-sectoral Technological Centre such as CETIM facilitates progress in the projects and accelerates the conception and execution of the ideas put forward in the projects.

We believe that participating in projects of this type acts as a driving mechanism for the implementation of a culture of innovation and continuous improvement within the participating companies, which ends up being beneficial both for them and for the entire ecosystem that surrounds them, and ultimately translating into an overall benefit for the sector.

  1. In addition to the faithful commitment to your customers, you also invest in positive environmental policies, what is the position of the Grupo Nogar in terms of sustainability and respect for the environment?

Grupo Nogar is fully aware of and aligned with the United Nations SDGs and one of its strategic pillars of action has always been the improvement in the sustainability of the business and the implementation of measures that contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the operations carried out and the services offered.

Grupo Nogar’s company Galigrain SAU has already received support from European ERDF funds in the past for the implementation of an ecological port hopper and a conveyor belt system that significantly reduces dust emissions during the unloading of bulk goods from ships.

This installation allows a significant reduction in the number of trucks needed in the logistics circuit to transport the unloaded goods from the ship to the warehouses, decarbonising the process, minimising emissions derived from fossil fuels and considerably improving the overall sustainability of the unloading and transport of goods to the warehouses.

Currently, another of the Grupo Nogar  companies, Internacional de Comercio y Servicios S.L., which has also been a beneficiary of the SMARTSTORE project, has submitted its application to the Circular Economy in Business PERTE, with an ambitious project whose main objectives are to reduce the consumption of virgin raw materials, the reuse of waste generated in the production process and investments related to the improvement in the transport systems of raw materials and finished products, which allow decarbonising and improving the sustainability of the manufacturing process of ingredients for animal nutrition.

  1. How do you see the future in your field of activity?

From my perspective, I see it with great enthusiasm and at the same time with a lot of respect. I think that there are very nice challenges, but also very complex and large challenges to be solved or improved in the field of port logistics.

Many possibilities are identified for improvement, innovation and development or application of technology for different problems, but the solution is often not as obvious as it may be in other industrial sectors.

The port logistics sector in Spain has significant room for improvement in terms of its levels of automation and digitalisation, especially in the unloading, handling and storage of bulk goods.

In this sense, we see interesting specific initiatives to help the implementation of existing technologies or the development of new technologies by public institutions, such as the annual Ports 4.0 call for ideas and commercial projects or the inclusion of a specific allocation for improving the digitalisation, automation and increased security of port logistics activities within the Support Programme for Sustainable and Digital Transport, in the context of the PERTE from the Next Generation Funds.

I believe that initiatives such as these should be extended and expanded, as they will be of great help to modernise and bring about a real technological revolution within port logistics companies.

IN DETAIL

Grupo Nogar is a Galician business group, based in Marín, which started its business activity in 1942. With a national and international presence, they have managed to position themselves in the maritime sector, improving port logistics and trade. Grupo Nogar is a reference in the maritime-port, logistics and commercial world. The professional experts in maritime trade that compose it, place it in a privileged position in its services of Logistics Services, Port Logistics, Ship Consignee, Storage of Goods, Goods Transport, Forwarding, Rail Logistics, Integral Cold Logistics, Maritime Chartering, and Customs Agent.