During every natural disaster or setback I’ve seen during my time in Houston, the number one thing I have noticed and valued is how this maritime community bands together. No one struggles alone. We may all be working remotely, but our response is cohesive and strong. I also appreciate how many in the industry have reached out just to make sure we’re doing okay. It’s been tremendous.
Like most of you, we have been working remotely, and I am proud of the staff’s ability to quickly adapt. They have seamlessly continued providing all our member services, particularly timely vessel movement data. We have also received considerable inquiries ranging from how to address the safety of workers on the docks to what is happening at the state and federal levels. To help get the needed answers to members, we immediately began work on several products, such as a members-only Morning Update that offers a daily cross-industry, cross-agency snapshot of the port region. Along with informational projects and reporting, we also uploaded COVID-19 resources to our newly designed website to offer everyone quick access to a wider knowledge base.
Coinciding with the need to efficiently and productively work from home is the upcoming trial of PortXchange, currently in use at the Port of Rotterdam. Formerly known as “Pronto”, PortXchange is a data-sharing platform for vessel and terminal scheduling. The Houston trial, generously underwritten by Shell, is designed to increase the efficiency of chemical tanker visits to Houston and Texas City. PortXchange has opened their web-based software to the global port community free through the end of the summer. This is a unique opportunity for companies to see how remote scheduling can benefit the efficiency of their operations and their bottom line.
What else is on the schedule at the Port Bureau? Like everyone, we have had to make sudden and significant changes to the way we do business. While we are still playing some things by ear, we remain focused on our mission-centric goals of bringing industry together for cooperation and collaboration as well as providing the best information to benefit the port region. Read through the special Q & A feature by clicking here to get the full details on how we are answering questions, providing data, and connecting members to navigate these uncertain waters.
As I close, I want to take a moment to thank our critical infrastructure workers for keeping our infrastructure and economy running, despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Our ports – sea, air, and land – are critical to providing the essential goods needed to combat this crisis and the future ones that we will surely face. Your work is inspiring as well as comforting. It’s a constant reminder that while we continue to work apart, we are never alone.
About the Author
CAPT Bill Diehl, USCG (Ret.), P.E. is president of the Greater Houston Port Bureau. Utilizing his 30+ years of marine safety and port operations experience, he guides the Port Bureau in bringing members and community partners together for cooperation and collaboration to improve and advance the port region.