Port Mastery

The port of the future is one that interlaces logistics needs, community expectations and shipping/cargo demands in addition to planning on terminal growth and change. As ports are modernizing, growing and changing, master planners are coming up with ways to creatively incorporate innovative ideas that wind together and present a user-, community- and business-friendly front.

*By Lori Musser*

The stars never completely align over a seaport, but some ports are getting really close to seeing that perfect alignment when it comes to the “mastery” of their ports’ potential.

Port directors concur that while timing and luck are important in reaching an obvious level of port mastery, it is mostly a matter of clever analysis and dogged determination. Identifying the right opportunity, looking challenges in the eye and finding the right folks to support a golden opportunity are what bring ports to a level of proficiency, supremacy or dominance.

When ports master something, it is typically a single cargo, project, facility, market, trade, functional activity or development. There are no examples of a perfect port. And when it comes to developing new port infrastructure, competing pressures from the community and various stakeholders can dampen enthusiasm for a project with even the brightest prospects.

Clear Vision for Gold

Aiming for gold starts with a clear vision. “A vision plan focuses port management on the path forward to achieve the goals and objectives established as part of the process,” said Mark Ittel, senior vice president of ports and maritime development for Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners. He said these are not just physical plans, but, more importantly, they are a guide for marketing initiatives, financial plans and new commercial investments that take into account the changing world in which we live and how it impacts the port over a period of time. Continuously monitoring and updating its vision allow a port to not only ensure its future value, but more importantly, generate economic and social impacts.

Ittel said no two ports are the same: “The approach for each must identify the opportunities and challenges that make the port what it is today, and what it will be into the future.”

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