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Accenture and Huawei Turbocharge an Intelligent Port of Shanghai

By Woolf Huang, Managing Director, Accenture Greater China

Digital Economy and Innovation

The digital world is being fused with the physical one, and digital elements are permeating every aspect of our daily life. Powered by this fusion, consumer enthusiasm for digital technology is ever on the rise. Enterprises and organizations worldwide are stepping up efforts to expedite digital transformation, while communication technologies are making cities more intelligent and efficient.

China is embracing this trend. The digital economy has brought dramatic changes to the country. According to the Accenture study titled Intelligent Ports Fuel Future Trades, by 2020 the digital economy is estimated to contribute 19 percent to China’s GDP.

In this rapidly changing landscape, innovation is the name of the game.

Building an Intelligent Port Drives Innovation

The current digital tide is invigorating many sectors of China’s economy, including seaports. As the majority of foreign trade takes place by sea, ports play an important role in the country’s Belt and Road Initiative. The ports are vital transportation and logistics hubs. In 2017, China’s import/export volume grew by 14.2 percent, hitting a 6-year high and returning China to the top position in world trade. However, these opportunities for ports come with critical challenges. As economic slowdown became the ‘new normal’ globally, the competition among ports intensified. Port operators realized the imperative for innovation.

The most effective way for traditional sectors to embrace innovation is to bring in external innovative engines. Leveraging new digital technologies to foster an open, intelligent, collaborative, and data-fueled ecosystem is the emerging into the mainstream.

In this context, the technology behind Smart City offers a golden opportunity for seaports — intelligent ports. The intelligent port concept is not about simply deploying smart applications. It calls for a reconception of business models and the leveraging of high-value innovation based on resources.

Shanghai International Port (Group) Co., Ltd. (SIPG) has set a great example for this wave of transformation. SIPG operates the Port of Shanghai with a complete logistics chain spanning services such as ship loading and unloading, warehousing, and both marine and land transportation. SIPG has tackled challenges ranging from service process integration and organization optimization to overall OPEX control in a bid to build a world-leading port.

At the same time, a string of changes are taking place in China, such as the transfer of manufacturing to the country’s central and western regions, multi-modal transport integration in cities along rivers and coasts, and the increased operation of the Eurasian railway. These changes require ports to provide more cost-effective online services.

The transformation cannot be achieved overnight, but the steps to move forward are clear. First, refine the port through intelligent operation. Second, based on the intelligent logistics in inland areas, build an interconnected information platform to integrate port services, and provide all logistics stakeholders with a one-stop supermarket for logistics and applications. Third, work hand in hand with Smart Cities. To this end, a wide spectrum of solutions can be adopted: using tidal energy; building efficient, secure roads around ports; reducing emissions; and building innovative infrastructures.

SIPG is keenly aware of the need to guarantee excellent operation through digital automation. The company sees that it is vital to coordinate effectively with goods owners, freight agencies, transportation companies, shipping companies, and other ports.

To achieve more efficient information exchange and improve port capacity, the top priority is to break down information silos and thereby improve information transparency. In practice, the rapid development of port services has driven SIPG to create many independent internal information systems. As a result, the company found it difficult to see the big picture of operations in each service unit or to share data. This limitation prevented SIPG from tapping into the benefits of supply chain integration. Meanwhile, the excessive number of systems dragged down service efficiency.

Accenture and Huawei Get SIPG on Track Toward Transformation

Working for three decades in Greater China, Accenture has been a pivotal force in helping the government and enterprises harness digital power, just as Huawei strives to build a better-connected world through customer-centric innovation. Based on their shared mission to enable business success for customers within China and around the globe, Huawei and Accenture established a strategic alliance in 2014. In December 2017, the two companies signed an additional strategic agreement for deeper collaboration and joint innovation.

In this collaboration, Huawei contributes expertise in ICT infrastructure design and industry solutions. Accenture brings best practices and know-how in strategy, consultancy, digital technologies, and operation. Together, our companies develop a wide range of digital transformation solutions for industry customers.

In May 2017, Accenture won the bid for SIPG’s management information platform integration service and adopted Oracle software on Huawei’s FusionCloud. This enterprise private cloud solution would clearly be able to help SIPG embark on intelligent operation. Cloud-based, service-oriented IT is the foundation for digital transformation.

With a legacy of complex, dispersed port services, SIPG required a centralized service management solution. The solution was an ERP platform based on a Huawei private cloud. Virtual resource pools form a cloud management platform that allocates resources in a unified and flexible way. Application systems are built, deployed, and configured centrally. Software and hardware that were once scattered are now integrated for unified O&M. This integration has enabled SIPG to reduce costs and carbon footprint while improving resource utilization.

Within the Huawei/Accenture strategic framework, Huawei integrates infrastructure including servers, software-defined storage, and the network on a hyper-converged infrastructure (FusionCube), an open cloud operating system called FusionSphere, and a distributed storage resource pool based on FusionStorage. In addition, Accenture and Huawei are delivering systems to cover areas such as engineering, human resources, and data management. A Business Intelligence (BI) system empowers SIPG with an agile and efficient information management platform.

The approach is to deploy systems separately and yet have unified management. Huawei’s FusionCloud offers resource pooling and full-stack cloud service capabilities so that an enterprise such as SIPG can take advantage of converged resource pools as well as hybrid cloud capabilities at any time. These elements fundamentally reinvent the cloud infrastructure for accelerated digitalization.

Huawei’s FusionCube supports the hyper-convergence of computing, storage, network, virtualization, physical machine, management, and cloud. Unlocking high performance with linear capacity expansion, FusionCube helps implement data centers in the form of blocks to reap superior performance, enhanced reliability, ease of management, and tight integration.

FusionStorage is a fully distributed cloud storage product capable of large-scale horizontal expansion (scale-out), which supports diversified enterprise-level features. With FusionStorage, a system can expand to several thousand nodes with capacities of exabytes. The Huawei FusionStorage service platform features reliability, efficiency, and on-demand allocation to realize large-scale agile data access in the cloud environment.

Today we see that digital technologies such as cloud computing are fueling SIPG’s business, transforming the company’s operation into an Intelligent Port. This expansive technology innovation is positioning SIPG to grow into a more competitive port. It is a privilege for Accenture and Huawei to be part of this process.

The original article is in Chinese and compiled into English by the editorial team of Huawei.

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Intelligent IT World (10/2018)

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