C4NGP leads new global alliance to develop universal PortML and standards for Smart Port Digital Twins

Common standards will accelerate digitalisation and unify operations of global maritime and port industries

The Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP) under NUS Engineering is collaborating with 12 international partners to form an alliance, with the aim of creating a set of programming guidelines to accelerate digitalisation and unify the operations of global maritime and port industries.

The new global alliance brings together researchers, solution developers, governments, port operators, information technology (IT) systems developers and other players in the port and maritime industries to collaborate, create and adopt a set of computer and software application descriptive language standards, known as PortML (Port Mark-up Languages). When completed, PortML will be the first-ever universal descriptive language standards for the port and maritime community.

Using PortML, port modelling, designs, configurations and information could be developed in formats that are compatible across all stakeholders in the industry. For example, the adoption of a common descriptive language can better support and augment the development of innovative digital twin capabilities and solutions. This can bring about labour efficiencies, optimised operational costs, and port efficiencies.

This new initiative was unveiled by Professor Chew Ek Peng, Director of C4NGP, during his presentation at the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) Forum which was held virtually today.

“Since the C4NGP was established in 2018, the Centre has been making positive contributions to the port community in Singapore and beyond. Our latest initiative of setting up the global PortML alliance combines the strengths of our partners in the global port and maritime industries, and harnesses C4NGP’s expertise in modelling, simulation and optimisation, to create a common machine language and standards for the design, building, and operation of next-generation smart ports and associated maritime systems. Adopting unified standards will promote innovation and harmonise port operations,” said Prof Chew.

International collaboration to co-create universal standards

Twelve global industry and research partners have inked Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with C4NGP for this new alliance. They are:

  1. Akquinet Port Consulting GmbH, Germany
  2. Dalian Maritime University, China
  3. China Waterborne Transport Research Institute of the Research Centre for Modern Logistics, China
  4. Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
  5. Japan Association of Cargo-Handling Machinery Systems, Japan
  6. Korea Maritime Institute, Korea
  7. Overseas Coastal Area Development Institute of Japan, Japan
  8. Port and Airport Research Institute, National Institute of Maritime, Port and Aviation Technology, Japan
  9. Pusan National University, Korea
  10. Shanghai Maritime University, China
  11. The University of Sydney, Australia
  12. Wuhan University of Technology, China

Professor Aaron Thean, Dean of the NUS Faculty of Engineering, said, “This is an exciting initiative with translational outcomes for ports in Singapore and around the world. Through this new alliance, C4NGP is well-positioned as an innovation hub that brings together major players across the globe to work on PortML standards. This will advance digitalisation technologies which will, in turn, enhance port design, operations, and management in the near future. In doing so, we showcase the important contribution of multi-disciplinary systems engineering and strong international technology partnerships.”

The C4NGP Governing Board is chaired by Professor Yoon Soon Fatt, Director (Industry Engagement and Partnerships) at the NUS Office of the Deputy President (Research & Technology), and comprises members from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, SMI and other industry partners.

“As Singapore continues to advance its position as a global premier hub port, the drive to establish a universal set of PortML standards is timely and critical to support innovations and unify operations both locally and in the international port arena. The establishment of the global alliance and universal standards is an important milestone for C4NGP, demonstrating the Centre’s full commitment in working with our strategic partners to deliver impactful outcomes for the international port and maritime community,” shared Prof Yoon, who is also Vice-Dean (Industry) of the NUS Faculty of Engineering.

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