What if development in the cargo handling industry were driven by collaboration with others and the sector became less protectionist and insular and more open to sharing ideas?  Kalmar showcased this cooperative approach at TOC Europe, held 12-13 June in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, where terminal operators, solution providers and development partners invested their best thinking in a joint, digitalised future.

This is the vision behind Kalmar's launch of Co-Create, a concept of creative challenge that was prominent at TOC Europe. "Our sector sees digitalisation as the way of the future for solving the many issues the industry struggles with today," says Lasse Eriksson, Kalmar's Vice President of New Service Business Concepts.

"Yet, the traditional, older mindset that persists is stunting our progress. If we are to move this sector towards digitalisation and the opportunities it creates, it must be done through collaboration. Kalmar believes the single player mode currently dominating the industry cannot solve the problems we’re grappling with today. It is why we promote openness head on with Kalmar Co-Create.”

"If we are to move this sector towards digitalisation and the opportunities it creates, it must be done through collaboration."

A new mindset

Breaking out of the traditional, fairly narrow and restricted mindset, TOC Europe was the perfect venue to launch Co-Create, where Kalmar also wanted to attract participants from outside the industry. Eriksson says, “There’s a risk of reinventing the same ideas over and over. The three participating teams consist of professionals that rethink for a living. Each team comes at the problems from a different angle, but they’re all systematic in the way they gain an in-depth understanding of the core points before jumping to potential solutions. Being an outsider is their biggest asset.”

Exhausting, exhilarating, inspiring

Getting down to work, the teams drew from a comprehensive list of challenges from which they could freely choose their focus and adapt and refigure their thinking as they went along. Cybercom dug into container flows, Gofore wrapped their heads around terminal safety, and Futurice concentrated on improving maintenance at automated terminals. It was an exhausting, but thoroughly exhilarating and inspiring two days for all involved.

"Kalmar isn't following the well-trodden path in finding solutions," says Futurice team member Lina Yassin, whose presentation drew a highly engaged audience. “Instead, the company first facilitates the change in mindset direly needed in the industry. At Futurice, we don’t rush into solutions, even if at the end of the day, most solutions are similar. What counts is to channel one’s energy into identifying the right problem. Diving into maintenance at automated terminals as a team, we soon realised the problem doesn’t lie with maintenance itself as much as it does with the cascades of errors that occur when equipment isn’t repaired immediately when first noticed. That’s the underlying problem that is worth solving! With Co-Create, Kalmar is doing a great job helping others learn this way of thinking.”

Kalmar Co-Create teams from Cybercom, GoFore and Futurice and their Kalmar mentors at TOC Europe 2018.

The journey eclipses outcome

Hannu Karp, Senior Manager, Digital Services at Kalmar, whose role as a mentor is to provide context and help team members connect with relevant stakeholders, says that the journey is more important than the outcome. “Although I hope the event will produce groundbreaking insights, Co-Create showcases how eagerly Kalmar explores new ways of thinking. At this stage, I don’t want to underestimate the importance of this message and obsess over the outcome.”

Kalmar Co-Create is only the start of a movement that will shape the industry into a more collaborative ecosystem. Concluding the event, Co-Create advisory board member Pekka Ranta, Senior Manager, Container Terminal Technology and Operations optimization, Moffatt & Nichol, looks at what lies ahead. “It’s astonishing to see how the teams are dealing with some of the most nerve-racking challenges our industry faces, especially considering the pressure they were under. The enormity of input they were provided compared against the ideas they presented is simply impressive. I can only imagine what would happen if we gave them a full week!”