Tero Hottinen is the Director of Emerging Digital Business at the central Digi team at Cargotec. He has a versatile background in digital business development, innovation management, strategy, start-up collaboration, and R&D. He is currently working to establish new digital business partnerships and ecosystems to help build a smarter and better cargo industry.
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and Cargotec?
Tero Hottinen: Cargotec, a Finland-based corporation, is a leading provider of cargo and load handling solutions with the goal of becoming the leader in intelligent cargo handling. We operate in more than 100 countries and have close to 13,000 employees nowadays.
My role revolves very much around digital maritime logistics and how to connect the dots that Cargotec has throughout the cargo flow chain, both on a strategic and operational level. This is something that requires being able to adapt and utilize modern, even disruptive, solutions and work together with a massive number of different types of stakeholders around different local ecosystems. Hence this fits me perfectly, as I’m passionate about new disruptive things and how to do higher good for the world together with others.
2. You have talked about inefficiencies in container logistics especially when it comes to ports, in what way can digitalisation help ports improve this situation?
Tero Hottinen: Oh, there are plenty of opportunities with digitalization for ports and the whole maritime and shipping industries in general. For example, when looking just what happens right before, during and after a port call at container terminals, there is an unbelievable amount of inefficiencies in place. There is a vast amount of manual but repetitive operations, often poorly coordinated communication between the several stakeholders needed to accomplish a port call, and dynamic reaction capabilities to changes – that always does happen – is very limited. Here digital solutions, be it just a digital communications layer as an example, could streamline the operations a lot. The problem tends to be that the ones trying to provide solutions are often focusing only on the main players, i.e. the carrier and the terminal operator, and forgetting the needs and importance of other stakeholders, or then they are trying to build too massive solve-it-all type of solutions instead of aiming to start with a minimal viable solution with crystal clear targeted value proposition solving some of the major pains in a lean manner.
Another rather low hanging fruit is terminal process automation. There is a significant amount of manual repetitive tasks and rule-based implementations in place, and these could be replaced with automated solutions and modern event-based algorithms. These are just two examples, not even yet talking about things like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the likes that could have significant value throughout the logistics chain.
3. Please tell us a little bit about your partnership with Rainmaking Trade & Transport Impact program and the progress it has been making and your plans for the second cycle in September.
Tero Hottinen: I was personally involved in the planning of the program from its early stages, and I’m really happy that Cargotec decided to become a partner. I have seen over the years; many different types of corporate start-up engagement programs and Trade & Transport Impact has been by far the best in really making something concrete happen. It is designed towards concrete collaboration and high-impact, and that’s exactly what it has been about so far. We have found several companies and joint use cases where we have been able to either accelerate our digital offering with spot-on external expertise, finding new high potential digital service adjacencies or even setting up strategic partnerships to build something new together.
We had a total of 8 different use cases in the collaboration pipeline from the first cycle, so our plate is quite full of good cases at the moment. Although it is a positive problem, it means at the same time that the plan for the second cycle is to focus on a significantly fewer number of cases. It makes it a bit difficult as the focus is then on the obvious cases only, and one needs to put aside highly potential wild cards that may not seem to be a spot-on fit before giving it a chance. It will be interesting to see where we end up with this time.
4. It has been highlighted that the shipping industry contributes to 2% of the CO2. With sustainability as one of the practices of your company, what is your vision for the shipping industry?
Tero Hottinen: Even though shipping is relatively the most eco-efficient way to transport goods, the contribution of the carbon emission to the environment is significant – and has been estimated to increase drastically. My vision is to cut the emission a big-time, by getting the highly fragmented shipping industry to truly collaborate with the end customer’s need in mind. This is very much about wiping out the inefficiencies mentioned earlier. It is not only about efficient collaboration and streamlined operations enabled by digitalization, but there are several other technological solutions that one can use to make a direct impact. It is not just about new propulsion methods, automated and partially autonomous operations, electrification and whatnot, there is a lot that every one of us can do in our daily lives and the business context.
5. You believe start-ups are the future of the shipping industry with their disruptive technological solutions. What sort of digital landscape do you expect to see to help empty container repositioning?
Tero Hottinen: Empty container repositioning is an interesting area where digitalization can improve a lot of things. Currently, there is an absurd amount of empties shipped back and forth, and the depot operations are often far from being optimized. As a concrete example, I see that smart containers can bring a change into this where one can truly follow specific containers and their voyage, and hence also more easily track and control which container should be where. Companies like Loginno and Traxens are showing a good example where the future of smart containers may be heading. Some other easy picks would be smart operations algorithms and AI-packed analytics for truly optimizing both the empty container flow and yard/depot operations.