We start with a journey back in time. It all began on a relatively small scale when a local company in Dubai built its first maritime facility, Port Rashid, in 1972. The UAE was only a year old, and Rashid was then Dubai’s first trading port, with only two gantry cranes and a capacity of less than 100,000 TEU. Since then, a lot has happened: DP World has over 150 ports and terminals, more than 55,000 employees and a capacity of around 95 million TEU, making it one of the largest port operators in the world today.
The Arab group has set up its production and distribution centres in strategic locations around the globe close to sea, air, road and rail connections – and has further expanded its network in recent years by acquiring additional terminals, shipping companies and freight forwarders and creating inland terminals. DP World still generates more than half of its turnover in container handling but also invests significantly in digital innovation, builds intelligent logistics centres and develops free trade zones.
Multimodal Supply Chain
The focus is primarily on operations in promising developing and emerging countries. A large industrial zone in Indonesia and a ‘Free Economic Industrial Zone’ in Namibia feature in its plans. “The dynamics of world trade have evolved, and the need for focused zones with developed infrastructure and direct access to international shipping has increased”, explains H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO at DP World. “Manufacturers around the world are looking for these locations and for ways to get closer to their customers, improving their logistics and expanding into new markets”.
This is why today, DP World no longer simply operates ports and terminals but also participates actively along the entire supply chain. “Our multimodal supply chain approach has increased freight volumes for our customers and shortened transit times for their products”, says Sultan Bin Sulayem. The aim for DP World is evident: the port operator wants to become the world’s leading end-to-end supply chain provider and thus decisively shape global world trade.
Traditional freight forwarders are increasingly struggling to meet their customers’ expectations. Supply chains are becoming more complex and global, new technologies are more widely available, regulations are constantly changing – and patterns of demand are evolving accordingly. “Disruptive trends and new technologies such as the cloud, industry 4.0, blockchain, big data, AI and robotics are changing the character of global trade logistics. At the same time, the industry is evolving slowly and remains inefficient in many areas. Much still depends on complex and strict formalities and physical interactions between individuals”, says Sultan Bin Sulayem.
DP World wants to change this and is investing heavily in digital logistics. Recently, for example, the pilot phase of the intelligent container yard system Boxbay was launched, a joint venture with the German SMS Group at Jebel Ali Port. Instead of stacking containers directly on top of each other, as has been common practice all over the world for decades, the system places each container in an individually adapted rack, up to eleven floors high. Through this proprietary system, each container is individually accessible without having to move another one, allowing Boxbay to offer more than three times the capacity of a conventional shipyard and reducing the space requirements of terminals by up to 70 per cent.
Blockchain and hyperloop
This year, DP World also joined the Maersk and IBM blockchain platform TradeLens, which aggregates data from the entire global supply chain ecosystem, including shippers, port operators and shipping companies. “This makes the container flows across several forwarders visible to us at an earlier stage and improves yard planning at the ports. At the same time, we want to use the platform to modernise manual and paper-based documents and replace them with blockchain-enabled digital solutions”, says CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem.
Another significant innovation is DP World Cargospeed, a Hyperloop-based cargo system under development in cooperation with the US company Virgin Hyperloop One. The system aims to transport palletised goods and highly urgent freight via hyperloop. “We do not intend to build a hyperloop across the ocean. Instead, we want to use our system to increase freight transport capacity by connecting to existing road, rail, port and air transport networks, enhancing the links to production parks, economic zones and distribution in regional urban centres”, says Sultan Bin Sulayem.
DP World wants nothing less than to revolutionise global trade logistics by embracing innovation and technology. For this reason, the company has become the Global Lead Partner of Hypermotion Frankfurt and Hypermotion Dubai. “Hypermotion brings together innovative minds and ideas to transform the mobility and logistics industry”, says Sultan Bin Sulayem. “From integrated logistics concepts to disruptive ideas and digital networks, Hypermotion allows us to work with industry experts to build a world of smarter trade and more intelligent logistics”.
DP World and Virgin Hyperloop at Hypermotion
H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO at DP World will hold a keynote at Hypermotion as well as Bruce Kemp, Global Director for Safety Certification and Regulatory Compliance at Virgin Hyperloop. He will hold a keynote on „Virgin Hyperloop: Translating vision to reality“.
You can find the whole conference programme here:
- Transport & Logistics