A Return to Hamburg’s Gateway to the World
On October 6, 1683, 15 German families arrived in Philadelphia, PA and settled in what is still known as the Germantown section of the city. Within 100 years, there were over 225,000 Germans living in or around the city. Today, on October 6th “German-American Day” is celebrated all over the United States.
Between roughly 1850 and 1960, 5 million German emigrants journeyed to the U.S, and this largest ancestry group in the country now exceeds 50 million people. For most of their ancestors, the great voyage to the “New World” began at Germany’s Port of Hamburg, a perennially bustling harbor located along the Elbe River. Since its founding in 1189 by Frederick I, it has continuously been Central Europe’s main hub for transatlantic passenger and freight travel.
The sprawling port is a breathtaking site and features four state-of-the-art container terminals, the legendary Hamburg Fish market, a cruise ship terminal and the historic Speicherstadt – a large wharf on the northern shore which is considered an architectural icon. The harbor is also alive with living history on the very site where millions began their adventure to faraway lands, as the Port of Hamburg features a visitor center where family history can be explored.
In recent years, business activity at the port has also grown exponentially. As a result, the iconic harbor has quickly grown into one of Europe’s prime logistic centers, as well as one of the world’s largest and busiest seaports. The Hamburg Port Authority was founded in 2005 to create a company that serves as the single point of contact for all of the clients of the Port of Hamburg. Today over 100,000 people work directly for the organization, and last year almost 9 million containers passed through Germany’s largest seaport.
During a recent discussion with “SAP Presents Live”, Hamburg Port Authority CEO Jens Meier said that the port is the “heart of the city of Hamburg.” He also stated that the big logistics challenge for the future is to double capacity without doubling space in the port.
Mr. Meier expounded by saying that part of the challenge was that because a normal container vessel will unload more than 10.000 boxes, there’s not enough space for storage in the back of the container terminal. Since the Hamburg Port Authority needs to ensure that the containers can be moved out in real-time, their vision became to create a chain of “Smartports.” Additionally, the organization needed to exchange data within the cloud worldwide to ensure that pre-planning of ship loading and unloading can be made well in advance.
During the SAP Presents Live session, Meier described the new solution and stated that “Smartport” logistics based on the SAP HANA cloud has already made a tremendous impact.
“We found out after 3 months of going live we had a 12 % increase in the port. My vision of a run-live future is that all of the various entities involved in the port are communicating with each other. That a bridge can communicate with a vessel, a train can communicate with a truck – all in a fully automatic way. Cloud solutions like SAP HANA are the basis to make such things possible.”
Visitors to the Port of Hamburg can be assured that the best existing technology for the future will already be in motion as they explore the port’s connection to their past.
Those fortunate enough to be celebrating German-American Day at this mighty port on October 6 will also see that at the “Gateway to the World” it’s still possible to go home again.