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Analysis of the top priorities of the Port of Rotterdam

Analysis of the top priorities of the Port of Rotterdam


Port of Tangier is ranked 6th having an exponential evolution according to le point. The idea with our analysis is to set up a framework, for a benchmark on the port of Rotterdam, that will help us to identify the trends and analyze the potential top priorities that could drive the vision of an influential European Port.

The port nowadays will have a different perspective and evolve in the future. This change will be done by several drivers : Demographic, technological and sustainability according to The Global Port Trends 2030 by Deloitte. Besides these strategic axes, we can highlight the future forecasts for changes in trade routes, the competitive position of the ports, ecosystems, and the cargo distribution. These trends are impacting directly the port and highlights the importance of action in the present for the future competitiveness.

The challenge regarding these new trends is that the implementation of the actions requires an upstream structuring and vision. Thus, it is important to implement the right actions by using the right methods and understating the right trends for our port specifications.

In order to treat our analysis of the port we will in the first instance present the Port of Rotterdam to understand its uniqueness, and address the subject directly throughout, highlighting the priorities and explaining why they are important.

The Port of Rotterdam: Understanding its uniqueness

The uniqueness and competitiveness of the Port of Rotterdam come first from its strategic position in Europe. As it is directly located on the North Sea with a possible draught of 24 meters, this characteristic gives to the port the ability to be accessible to the important sizes of ships.

Historically, the Port of Rotterdam has been ranked first in the global ports ranking until into the 21st century where we had the appearance of the Chinese and APAC region competition where the ports in this region took a better ranking with Shanghai and Singapore for instance.

The management of the port is directed by the Rotterdam Port Authority which is a public limited company (70% municipality and 30% Dutch state) with: 1 200 employees and  710 million EURO of turnover in 2019.

Finally, the port has the culture of innovation and promotes the companies in its network and hinterland to innovate to increase the competitiveness of the port and the positioning of the partners.

Top priority 1: Optimization of the Supply Chain throughout digitalization

The digitalization today, it’s a necessity to survive for some actors and innovating on it will help to differentiate and be competitive. As it has transformed not only the economy but also the functioning of society and its consumption methods. As a matter of consequence, we have an economic context marked by: a movement towards a post-industrial society characterized by information ; a fundamental reorganization of the economy generated by new technologies; the need for adapting infrastructures; and new consumer expectations.

Here our idea is to increase the competitiveness of the Port throughout innovation in the digital economy, by profiting the entire business network of the port. The first step would be to set a framework with the port relationship with the port community, including : port assets, port operations and port call optimization. The shippers & Forwarders which the interaction with them requires: booking, tracking, predicting, orientation and planning. And finally its worldwide relationships with Rotterdam, Netherlands, Europe, and the ports.

Setting up the interactions will help us to understand our network and complex relationship to focus on the high priority actions in the context of digitalization of the Supply Chain. This will be possible throughout digital initiatives, encouraging for instance the incubation of startups having the purpose of enhancing the supply chain related to the Port of Rotterdam and will benefit the network of business.

We can summarize our analysis around three general axes and explaining why these actions are a high priority in our digitalization of the supply chain.

Enhance the products and services throughout digital innovation this will have a as a consequence the development of the User Experience (UX).

Develop new streams of revenues throughout the development of digital tools, for instance a digital platform that is showing all the optimized roots from origin to destination, but by using the port of Rotterdam and thus have new customers using the digital platform and potential users of our port.

Redefinition of the value stream chain in the supply chain by maximizing the digital offer and products as much as possible.

Thus, in this context the challenge is to optimize the ecosystem by the digitalization of the infrastructure and the extensive use of the new technology with the Artificial Intelligence, the IoT and the Blockchain. Finally, encourage the network of the port to follow and propose so that the competitiveness of the port is developing and with it its business network.

Top priority 2: Transition to a Green Port

Transition to a more social and responsible port is a necessity giving the current social and environmental challenges that we are facing now and the future consequences in the future not only for the port but for the entire society. Also, we have an awareness of the society about this issues and the international community is lacking to faster the transition to a greener economy. The port, having by definition an important part in providing the development and the well being of a society, has an important role to play in this transition and its competitiveness depends also in the role he is playing locally and internationally to benefit its environment.

For that, the Port Authority by having a strategic vision can implement actions and plans to benefit the environment and to be socially responsible. We can’t see a port as an only part of his own as the Port of Rotterdam is a multimodal port, collaborating with several stakeholders and using several means of transport: land, maritime, rail and train transport within the integrated ecosystem.

We can rank the emission of CO2, according to Fridell (2017) with the order from the most polluting to the least as follows: Truck, Ro-Ro, Barge. The solution internally, can be using hydrogen-powered trains and hydrogen-powered barges and encourage our ecosystem to use it.

We propose the extensive use of hydrogen to increase the transition of the port to more social and responsible port. The Port of Rotterdam could be a potential hydrogen hub and benefit not only nationally, but maintain its position and supply the world with this new tendency that is important for the survival of human being. Thus, be a key actor not only in the transition for its self but for the world.

This will be possible throughout the investment in infrastructure to adapt the hinterland connections to the demand and use an adapted corridor for this future supply and distribution of important hydrogen energy.

As we said the port is using means of transport, but has also Total and Engie on its business Network, collaborating with these companies in the energy and investing in the right project in the port will be a key success factor for the transition and the important role that will play the port in the green energy supply.

Top priority 3: Human capital

We can’t focus on the two high priority for leadership without having the right people to hold the vision and make the projects succeed.

A structured approach to attract the high profile skills should be a high priority for the port to maintain its leadership. This could be possible throughout two axes.

Training the human capital on the tools and projects required to succeed in these new challenges, priorities and objectives of our port. In addition to the mastering digital technology, it is necessary to develop new core competencies in order to perform well in this economic climate and to meet the challenges of digitalization.  

Creation of partnerships with top schools, to get the knowledge of the professors and searchers in one side, and attract the best junior profiles in another side.

A high priority project should have finally an important budget to follow in the high standard objectives.


Throughout our analysis we highlighted the current trends and where the worldwide economy is going, to deepen after the analysis on the specificities of our port. This allowed us to propose adequate high priorities which are the digitalization to optimize the supply chain, we proposed in the second plan a vision and an action plan for a greener port throughout hydrogen and we made finally the emphasis in the importance of the human capital to support the process and maintain and develop the leadership of the port of Rotterdam.

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