ESPO: Port Pro of the month Port pro of the month: Dirk Claus (DE)

This month we are interviewing Dr Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (Germany). In what follows, Mr Claus will tell us more about how the Port of Kiel is tackling challenges such as environmental sustainability, ensuring good hinterland connections and the digital transition!

(c) Port of Kiel

Can you briefly present the Port of Kiel? What are its main characteristics and challenges?

The Port of Kiel is one of the most multifunctional ports in the Baltic Sea region. Its geographic location and hinterland access make the port attractive for both cargo and passenger traffic. State-of-the-art terminal facilities and a high level of service quality enable us to offer our customers tailored-made services. Kiel is the market leader in ferry services to Norway, western Sweden and the Baltic States, and has long standing partnerships with the shipping companies sailing on these routes. The logistic centre on the east bank of the fjord of Kiel accommodates one of the most modern paper and forest product terminals which benefits from being located close to the entrance of the world’s most frequented artificial waterway, the Kiel-Canal. Last but not least, from spring to autumn, Kiel is also a leading turnaround port for an ever-increasing number of cruise ships. Our two biggest challenges that we are tackling at the moment are the fine balance of creating continuous, strong economic growth whilst achieving this in a sustainable way and finding skilled and highly qualified personnel for the future. Only through achieving both will we be able to reach our goal of making the port climate-neutral by 2030.

How did you get into maritime transport? How did your career path lead to this position?

After following academic studies in geography as well as in business administration and obtaining a doctorate at the University of Kiel, I took charge of the Economic Development of the county of Ostholstein. After that, I became Managing Director at the Economic Development Agency of the State Capital City of Kiel. In the last thirteen years, I have been leading the Port of Kiel.

What is your vision for the Port of Kiel for the next decade?

Transportation as well as sea traffic in the Baltic Sea region will continue to grow, which is why we are investing in infrastructure and innovative technology. Digitalisation and sustainability will have the same importance as the extension of port terminals and hinterland connections to ensure further growth. Ever bigger ships with more passengers and freight will have to be handled with great care in a minimum amount of time in future.

In the next decade our main focus is very much on projects to make the port climate-neutral and to become one of the most environmentally friendly ports in Europe. Alongside our efforts to decarbonise our port operations and to provide onshore power supply, we are taking action to shift cargo in hinterland transportation from road to rail wherever possible.

(c) Tom Körber

The Ro-Ro ferry business is very important for the Port of Kiel. How is this business evolving? What are the main challenges you are currently facing?

Ferry traffic currently accounts for more than 80% of our port’s total turnover. The largest ferries in terms of gross tonnage in the entire Baltic Sea region (“Color Magic” and “Color Fantasy”) as well as the Baltic Sea ferries that currently have the highest cargo capacity, (“Stena Germanica” or “Stena Scandinavica”), are to be found in Kiel on a daily basis. Taking into consideration the increasing numbers of trucks, trailers and containers, the enhancement of the main motorway connection between Hamburg and Kiel was very much welcomed, as it enables smoother hinterland transportation. At the same time as road construction works were completed, German Railway Deutsche Bahn has enlarged Kiel’s central shunting station. From now on, block trains with a length of 750 m can enter the station – which means an increase in length capacity of about one third. By 2025, we aim to transport more than 25% of all our hinterland traffic by rail. We are already obtain this high share in modal split at the Schwedenkai terminal. The Norwegenkai terminal and the East Bank Port are now going to follow.

European ports are increasingly investing in digital solutions to increase the efficiency of the logistics chain and port operations. Is the Port of Kiel taking any initiatives towards digitalisation? Do you think digitalisation can contribute to making port operations and the logistics chain more sustainable?

The Port of Kiel is undergoing continuous transformation processes in order to digitise its daily business operations. This approach is not only directed to internal processes but takes the external ones into consideration as well. Together with customers and partners, digitised networks are being developed and installed along the logistic chains, interfacing with the systems of the port. . . .

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