EXPERIENCE

DIGITAL
INNOVATION
IN OMAN

Port of Sohar implements online routeplanner Navigate

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The Port of Rotterdam Authority launched ‘Navigate’ two years ago. This online route planner offers a total overview of the most efficient deep sea, short sea, rail and inland shipping routes via Rotterdam. Partly prompted by the success of this tool, a version for Sohar in Oman was introduced in mid-2019. Dimitri van Eekelen, Commercial Manager of the Port of Sohar, highlighted his experiences.

Ambitious digital agenda

It cannot be denied that the Sohar Port and Free zone is ambitious. Since its establishment in 2004, over 26 billion dollars has already been invested in the port, located just outside the Strait of Hormuz. And there’s much more in the proverbial pipeline. For instance, a start will soon be made to reclaim 200 hectares of additional land to strengthen the petrochemical cluster. There are also plans for the construction of 2 kilometres of quay for the logistics cluster. But investments are not only being made in physical infrastructure. The port also has an ambitious digital agenda. Part of this is the launch earlier this year of Navigate SOHAR. This is in line with the ambition to become a digital frontrunner in the region and therefore be able to operate more efficiently, reliably and competitively.

Dimitri van Eekelen, Commercial Manager of the Port of Sohar

The online route planner provides an overview of the container services to and from Sohar, supplemented with the most common inland destinations

India

SOHAR Navigate presents the optimal routes via the Oman port. Van Eekelen: ‘The online route planner provides an overview of the container services to and from Sohar, supplemented with the most common inland destinations. All agents are also available in Navigate, so that users can easily make contact with them. The system has been well received in the region and the site is particularly often visited from India.’

Direct bookings

‘Hutchison SOHAR, the container terminal, uses Navigate to promote the terminal’s connectivity among clients in China, India, the Middle-East and, of course, Oman’, continued Van Eekelen. ‘Clients can then make a good comparison with respect to transit time, CO2 emissions and ETA/ETD compared with other ports in the region. Together with Hutchison SOHAR, various events have been organised in India to promote Navigate SOHAR. The system meets the need for clients to make clear comparisons of the various options, without having to consult all kinds of different shipping company sites. Clients indicated that it would be good if direct bookings could also be made, as is common on Booking.com or Expedia.com.’

The system has been well received in the region

CMA-CGM

The expansion with a booking tool is currently being investigated. ‘The idea is to conduct a pilot with CMA-CGM Oman in early 2020. Via a module within their system, clients will be able to make direct bookings for so-called FAK (spot) rates. This module is almost available and, via a link, could also be visible in Navigate SOHAR. This would enable users to make direct bookings with CMA-CGM. Should this be successful, discussions will start with other shipping companies so that we can also add their booking modules.’

RoRo

Van Eekelen: ‘We are also investigating the possible advantages of adding roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) operators. These operators also run fixed scheduled services. The presentation of these various scheduled services in one overview would offer the same advantages as described above for container shipping lines. And discussions are already ongoing with leading RoRo operators to investigate the advantages users will actually have if this information can be offered in a consolidated way and which search criteria will be important for them.’

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