Narcís Pavón

Narcís Pavón

Managing Director, APM Terminals
Guillermo Belcastro

Guillermo Belcastro

CEO, Hutchison Ports (BEST)
As times change, so must ports. While the Mediterranean Corridor will provide a way for Barcelona to prove its worth on the sea, port operators and logistics teams must upgrade facilities quickly to stay ahead of increasing e-commerce demand, along with import and export cargo flows.

In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge in Barcelona for the sector?
NARCÍS PAVÓN The greatest challenge we face is how to adapt to market needs. This is simultaneously a great challenge and a great achievement that sometimes requires considerable investment. We have invested USD47 million in equipment here, which represents 30% of our entire fleet. These efforts allow us to maintain our role as a benchmark in the sector. Regulations can also be challenge as it takes longer than we would prefer to adapt the laws and regulations to current industrial activities. Because we are working in a constantly evolving market, it makes it hard to adapt the legal framework. In terms of containers, the impact of factors such as Brexit will be relatively minor, as the Port of Barcelona is not widely connected directly with the UK; however, we are more worried about the commercial disputes between the US versus China and Europe, which could impact the world's handling throughput and consequently our terminal.

GUILLERMO BELCASTRO BEST is one of the most efficient terminals in the world, but efficiency alone is not enough. We need to create new services with added value to our customers and introduce new solutions, both inside and outside the terminal, which will allow us to bring more cargo to Barcelona. Another challenge is to enter the French market through the Mediterranean Corridor and thus expand the hinterland of the Port of Barcelona. We want to be a smarter terminal adapting to new technology, not only through data utilization but also through analytical prediction. However, technology is becoming more and more a commodity. What really makes us different is our people, and you need talented and motivated people to innovate on a daily basis. At the end of the day, it is innovation that distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

What are some strategies for growth in the future?
NP Our growth rate, standing at USD4.1 billion globally in 2018, depends to a large extent on increasing export and import activity. Spain is a mature market, so we are not expecting exponential growth, although we do hope to continue to improve and maintain our pole position within the sector. Ever since the start of our concession in Barcelona, we have always focused on technology and efficiency in our processes to create value for our customers. We recently invested heavily in new equipment at the Barcelona terminal to further raise service levels to offer our customers the best productivity in the Mediterranean terminals. As we want to adapt our facilities to market needs, we need to upgrade our facility, which has been in operation for 27 years now. We need to invest in equipment and upgrading to provide services to our customers, and the port community. We are also looking to diversify our business somewhat, handling not only ships, trains, and trucks, but working with our customers to find new, added-value services providing cost- and time-savings for them. The market is changing continuously. We need to adapt, not only to the market, but also to changing needs.

GB Apart from having the latest technology and a smart software in place, we ensure that our operations remain simple and efficient. We designed a semi-automatic terminal to ensure we had the best of both worlds, combining technology on one side and people efficiency on the other. Every week, we receive vessels with a capacity of 19,000 TEUs; thus, we are growing and improving our facilities. We have increased the height of our quay cranes by 5m to service the largest vessels and we are also increasing our container yard capacity by adding three more blocks this year to our terminal yard to increase our handling capacity. The increasing e-commerce demand must be analyzed by all supply-chain players so they can rapidly adapt their processes, especially custom procedures and regulations. Furthermore, we believe in the future of rail transport. We have invested in inland terminals of Pamplona and Zaragoza to link Barcelona. Another thing that will improve competitiveness will be the Mediterranean Corridor, the infrastructure of which is currently in place. But we need to improve the efficiency in aspects such as customs and better integration and coordination between countries.