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TOC Europe 2023 Event Highlights

Day 1

Day One of TOC Europe 2023 has started in an upbeat mood, with visitors and exhibitors demonstrating a strong demand for in-person events. With high levels of knowledge being exchanged at each of the four the packed conference theatres, and high levels of engagement across the exhibition floor, the event at Rotterdam Ahoy is attracting interest from businesses and individuals from across all aspects of the ports and terminals sector.

Among highlights of Day One of the three-day event, DP World’s Regional CIO and Head of IT – Europe, Que Tran, used the opening plenary conference session to discuss how the industry can work together to achieve a zero-emission supply chain. In particular, he pointed to initiatives that not only achieve a more sustainable 

status, but one which is optimised to the advantage of all. Whilst driven by automation and technology – including digitisation of hitherto manual or mechanical processes – Mr Tran believes that true sustainability can only be achieved by focusing on solutions that are at the same time smart and secure.

He took to the stage soon after Hanna Stelzel, Head of Port and Supply Chain Performance at Port of Rotterdam, who kicked off the discussion about sustainability by describing how a ‘green and digital corridor’ has been established between Rotterdam and Singapore as part of her organisations efforts to eliminate carbon not only from its local operations. “We are at the beginning of a long journey, and the future requires a lot of effort from all of us,” she said, before explaining that to become carbon-neutral we had to remain open to collaboration, show courage in taking bold decisions, and be curious about how technology can be embraced to also improve business performance.

The four theatres each focussed on specific areas – technology, business improvement, sustainability and digitisation – with visitors enjoying presentations encompassing market outlooks, innovative digital solutions, understanding automation, and energy transition across the supply chain. Of particular note was a presentation by Alex Duca, Head of Automation Engineering at Maersk, who discussed how the industry can accelerate towards greater efficiency by better adapting to current market conditions. He was joined on stage by Lamia Kerdjoudj, who as Secretary-General of Feport discussed how its resilient membership has – and is continuing to have – made great strides to remain optimised and competitive in a world where perma-crises now seem the norm.

With two more days of TOC Europe left to run, visitors to Rotterdam Ahoy on Wednesday can expect more deep dives into the key issues affecting the ports and terminals industry worldwide from a significant line-up of industry experts.

Day 2

Day Two of TOC Europe 2023 again saw a high number of visitors attending the event at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Centre. With a strong conference programme across all four theatres, the crowds had multiple opportunities to acquire knowledge aimed at optimising their port and terminal operations.

Throughout the week, safety has taken centre stage - in fact, quite literally, as the TT Club Safety Village located at the heart of the exhibition floor hosted presentations that focus on protection of workers and the reduction or complete elimination of workplace accidents.

Elsewhere, visitors to the TOC Europe conferences heard from 

high-level speakers covering subjects embracing automation, future supply chain trends, sustainability and alternative fuels, and how digitalisation can enhance resilience.

Amongst the compelling conference sessions, DP World’s VP of Freight and Logistics, Rob Harrison, described how both resilience and redundancy can be enhanced by integrating various supply chain operations and functions. His colleague, Piotr Konopka, Senior Manager of Energy Programmes, contributed greatly to the audience’s knowledge by talking them through DP World’s journey towards achieving the ambitious target of zero carbon by 2050.

Additionally, Peter Slootweg, CEO of Long Am International Port in Vietnam, updated the audience on the facility’s status as it approaches its imminent opening, describing how a flurry of international manufacturers in the region has led to a demand for extra capacity.

The final day of TOC Europe takes place on Thursday, June 15th, where another full day of conference content is promised.

Day 3

The third and final day of TOC Europe 2023 again saw a large numbers of visitors, all of whom were attracted to Rotterdam Ahoy by a top-drawer conference programme and the largest-ever TOC exhibition. Exhibitors and visitors alike reported high levels of satisfaction and engagement, as the second in-person TOC Europe event since the pandemic saw all previous records broken.

All four of the conference theatres drew large audiences, with the highlight arguably taking place in the Sustainability Theatre, where teams of players took part in a workshop featuring gameplaying. Whilst enormously enjoyable, it also proved to be a thoroughly compelling way to drive home significant messages around the decarbonisation of the supply chain, a theme running strongly 

across the event all week. Further round tables and presentations elsewhere focused on topics ranging from the maintenance of port equipment to future skills, the latter featuring a discussion with the next generation of logistics leaders. At a time when the recruitment and retention of staff is a global problem, it was a chance to discuss the opportunities the industry offers to young people, and to explore how businesses can best harness the energy and knowledge of this digital-savvy workforce.

Elsewhere, Elizabeth Munck, Global Sustainability Manager for IKEA Supply Chain Operations, joined a sustainable shipping debate, noting that businesses such as hers shouldn’t be expected to pay a premium for green logistics solutions, but should be open to cooperation to help make such practices the industry norm.

“The buzz around TOC Europe 2023 has been amazing, from visitors, exhibitors, speakers and sponsors,” said event director Paul Holloway, reflecting on three busy days. “The post-Covid ‘bounce’ was once again evident in Rotterdam, as our industry continues to display a great appetite for a content-driven event offering significant networking opportunities. Thank you to all of our stakeholders for making TOC Europe 2023 such a success.”

The next staging of TOC Europe will take place in Rotterdam on 11th-13th June 2024; before then, the TOC Africa 2023 (20th-21st September, Tangier), TOC Americas 2023 (17th-19th October, Panama) and TOC Asia (28th-29th November, Singapore) events will all take place.