AWARD Joint Activity | Innovating Port Logistics Operations: An Interactive Symposium on Automation and Digitalization

On April 24th, the “Innovating Port Logistics Operations” symposium was successfully held, gathering leading European projects AWARDH2020, MultiRELOAD, and FOR-FREIGHT, each spearheading advancements in port operations through automation. This collaborative event was expertly moderated by Robert Rafael, General Manager of Pro Danube, who guided the discussions with precision and insight. This symposium is not the first collaboration between the three projects; in fact, they also collaborated at the Joint Standardisation Activity. This collaborative process has brought to light common standard practices and provided a platform to evaluate and discuss our march towards innovation and efficiency.

Project Presentations: Showcasing Achievements and Progress in AWARD, MultiRELOAD, and FOR-FREIGHT

The symposium kicked off with a series of project presentations, beginning with Loha Hashimy from Enide who detailed the AWARD project’s initiatives in automating port logistics. This was followed by Achim Klukas from Fraunhofer IML, who spoke on behalf of the MultiRELOAD project, and Dr. Orestis Manos from ICT Solutions, representing the FOR-FREIGHT project. Each presentation showcased significant progress and achievements in their respective areas, setting a high standard for the discussions that followed. 

Panel Discussion: The Future of Port Automation Technologies

After the presentations, the floor was opened for a panel discussion on “The Future of Port Automation Technologies.” Panelists included Mads Skovsgaard Rasmussen from DFDS, José Andrés Giménez Maldonado from TIC4.0, and Dr. Andreas Gavrielides from Imec. The panel discussion was particularly insightful, with questions from the audience prompting deeper exploration into the challenges and opportunities of implementing automation in port operations. The panelists discussed the technological, operational, and human factors that influence the adoption of these technologies, providing a comprehensive view of the current landscape and future prospects.

Opening question by Robert Rafael: “What is the most important take-away from the project work for your company and how do you plan to further use it in your business?” This foundational question set the tone for a deep dive into each project’s utility and future integration within business models.

Audience Questions: 

  1. “In terms of standardisation and interoperability, where do you see more activity? Is it in modeling, data, or other areas?” José responded by highlighting the current focus on developing data models that accurately reflect port operations processes, aiming to expand these models to other logistics scenarios. 
  2. “Is the data collected in your projects being used to simulate processes or activities in ports or terminals as part of a digital twin approach?” Andreas addressed this by discussing plans for a digital twin as part of the platform, emphasizing the multi-layered approach to digital twins and their potential to enhance process understanding and operational efficiency. 

Key Points from the Discussion:

  • Mads highlighted the practical applications of automation at DFDS, emphasizing the role of automated vehicles in enhancing operational efficiency and the importance of a systems approach to integrate both physical and digital infrastructure. 
  • Dr. Andreas spoke on behalf of Imec, discussing the dual role of the freight platform as both a sandbox and marketplace, which facilitates innovation and collaboration among various stakeholders. He stressed the importance of advancing automation in ports and how this tie into broader European sustainability and mobility goals. 
  • José focused on the importance of standardization and interoperability in the automation of port logistics, citing the efforts of TIC 4.0 in promoting operational and digital standards to reduce fragmentation in the global logistics chain. 

Live polls Insights

Throughout the event, several live polls were conducted to gauge audience interests and expectations, revealing a strong interest in learning about the integration of autonomous vehicles with existing infrastructure, the efficiencies these technologies can bring, and their potential impacts on safety and sustainability. 

The live poll results during the symposium highlighted a strong interest in integrating new technologies with existing systems, focusing on operational efficiency and cost reduction as the primary benefits of automation in port terminals. Attendees also expressed a keen desire for automation platforms that not only enhance efficiency but also ensure smooth integration, data transparency, and overcome regulatory barriers, underscoring the significance of safety and sustainability in automation strategies.


The symposium concluded on a high note, with Robert Rafael summarizing the discussions and emphasizing the importance of continuing these collaborative efforts to harness the benefits of automated technologies in port operations. The event not only provided valuable insights into the current state of port logistics automation but also highlighted the collaborative efforts needed to advance these technologies further. 

With over 45 attendees online and an impressive overall rating of 4.4 out of 5, based on feedback from the participants, the virtual symposium was a testament to the growing interest and ongoing efforts in transforming port logistics through innovative automation solutions. The discussions and outcomes from this event promise exciting developments for the future of port operations and underline the critical role of collaboration in achieving these advancements. 

The AWARD Final Conference is approaching: register now! We look forward to seeing you on 13 June in Brussels, for a day full of unmissable sessions and discussions.

You can download the presentations for free from the AWARD website: AWARD H2020 – Presentations ( 

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