Data in Latin America

Port directors throughout the region talk about how they use metrics for performance improvement and strategic planning.

By Sarah Sain

When it comes to data, access to real-time statistics and metrics are important – no matter where in the world a port is located. The information allows port directors to monitor performance, improve output and discover trends. However, how that data is gathered and what information is available can sometimes vary greatly depending on the country.

Seaports asked four Latin American port directors about how they use data and key performance indicators in their decision-making and when setting short- and long-term goals for the port. Below is what they had to say.

Cd. Hugo Antonio Borelli
Consorcio de Gestión del Puerto de Bahía Blanca

Data, metrics and indicators are used as resources for different tools at Bahía Blanca, primarily updating our Strategic Plan, setting benchmarks, assessing commercial competition and evaluating infrastructure and its availability.

Applying data is necessary and indispensable in order to really know what’s going on with different processes so that we can make correct management decisions. Without these measurements we could not evaluate, plan, design, foresee, correct and innovate accurately or systematically.

It is important to keep in mind that ports shouldn’t gather data just to have more data. Instead, it should be used wherever appropriate in the decision-making process.

At Bahía Blanca, the availability of real-time data helps us improve and reach our goals and helps us forecast for the short and long term. It also allows us to act proactively in order to anticipate the market’s demands.

One of the port’s biggest challenge recently was obtaining a $60 million dollar (U.S.) loan from the Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF – Development Bank of Latin America) in order to deepen our berths and navigation channel to 50 feet. With the data we had available, we were able to demonstrate the Port of Bahía Blanca’s financial standing and stability for the long term.

In the future, the use of data and metrics will become even more widespread, and very few decisions will be made without them.

Raul Torre Gamboa
Administración Portuaria Integral de Progreso S.A. de C.V.

Data, statistics and indicators are used to indicate benchmarks and goals for the port, which are reflected in Progreso’s Annual Operations Plan. This plan is based on the Master Plan for Port Development, a document that contains the short-, medium- and long-term plans for the port and is based largely on current and trending data. This plan clearly establishes the strategic goals for the port and the courses of action we will take in the future.

Unlike some ports, we don’t have a lot of access to real-time data, and the lack of this information affects us primarily in our tons per crane hour performance. However, we use the data we do have to lead us down the path toward success.

For example, in the case of a 25,000 ton shipment of sugar for export, we weren’t seeing an improvement in terms of performance, and we have used and are using data to establish strategies in order to minimize possible negative impacts on port operations and better our performance in years to come.

We will continue to use data as a key tool to plan and develop strategies that will serve as a guide for us when making decisions, including analyzing our infrastructure needs.

Marcos A. Nicocia
Administración Portuaria Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn uses data and metrics to monitor cargo movement and ship traffic and keep an eye on how the maritime industry is progressing. When the time comes to make decisions at our port, data is one of the variables we consider in order to make the best decision possible.

We have been able to improve port performance because of the data we have access to in real time. The world has changed so that decisions are now made instantly, and it is necessary that data be “from today” and not “from a few years back.”

This also enables us to communicate internally to our personnel and externally to provincial officials and others in the industry results and changes right away.

Ports, including Puerto Madryn, will absolutely, positively continue to use data to bring about improvements in port services and investments – both public and private – contributing to the sustained growth of the maritime industry.

Mauricio Suárez
Sociedad Portuaria de Santa Marta S.A.

At Santa Marta, we have developed the Virtual Port tool thanks to information technologies. This means that we have moved from using physical paperwork to carrying out all these processes virtually, which produces important savings in costs and time.

While looking for ways to make all of these procedures more efficient, we recently installed an IT platform that consists of 30 tablets with IP 67 protection in order to virtually input and index the necessary data on dock and in the yard for the reception and delivery of cargo, the arrival and departure of vessels and the beginning and end of operations. This platform produces key data that will allow us to become even more efficient in our day-to-day operations and find opportunities for improvement.

In operational matters related to Virtual Port, it has been a big challenge switching and adapting all of the supply chain users to the virtual format, but we have achieved good results up until now.

We have become much more efficient in the flow of freight vehicles entering and dispatching goods at the port’s entrance. This has allowed us, in short, to reduce the turn times of cargo at terminal yards, resulting in the possibility to carry out permanent tracking and monitoring of loads.

When it comes to data, making decisions will be reinforced even more so in the future by secure information technologies tracking cargo that enter and leave terminals, giving the opportunity to monitor and notice whatever abnormality that could arise in the transport of goods and taking the necessary corrective measures in advance.