Incheon Port Authority (IPA) is going all out to upgrade Incheon Port to a state-of-the-art port that is equipped with a logistics ubiquitous system, a top manager of the authority said.
"We will invest about KRW 8.6 billion in the Incheon Port Logistics Ubiquitous System (I-PLUS) project until 2012 to make Incheon Port one of the most competitive ports in the world," said IPA's President, Kim Jong-tae.
I-PLUS refers to a system, under which port users can exchange information freely at any place, regardless of such places as shipping company, logistics firm and customs house.
"Through embodiment of advanced ubiquitous harbor logistics information system, IPA plans to enhance international competitiveness of Incheon's harbor and logistics-related industries," Kim said.
"Related to this, IPA has been actively pushing ahead with the three-stage I-PLUS project since 2009 to establish an intelligence-type harbor center that places emphasis on harbor users-oriented logistics service," he said.
Third-phase I-PLUS project
"Under the strategic target of fostering Incheon Port as a competitive logistics hub, IPA is now preparing the third-phase I-PLUS project this year," he said.
"To provide customers using Incheon Port with more exact and effective information service through the integrated portal, www.ipus.co.kr, IPA projects are seeking cooperation in earnest with harbor logistics companies in Incheon City," said Kim.
The goal of the third-phase I-PLUS project is to build a system, which can offer a variety of necessary information related to harbor logistics to Incheon Port users by further developing the "Smart IPA," the Incheon Port integrated portal and a smartphone application, which were built in 2010 through the second-phased I-PLUS project.
"In line with this, IPA will hold consultation meetings with the Incheon Port container terminal management company, harbor logistics association, port pilot association, ship clubs and ship owners' association to collect information on demand, system linkage and relevant institutions' logistics systems," he said.
"When the third-phase project is completed, customers using Incheon Port will be able to get information on declaration, permission, approval, and harbor logistics in real time," the top manager explained.
Merits of Smart-IPA
Asked about the merits of the smart application, Smart-IPA, Kim said, "Incheon Port users can confirm such harbor statistics as the port's disposal of freight volume, kinds of ships and pier's ability to deal with freight volume, through smartphones at anytime and anywhere, without the use of a PC."
Noting that IPA introduced the harbor logistics RFID tag reader to Incheon's container terminal and Sunkwang's container terminal in 2007, he said that more than 90 percent of drivers of vehicles entering the container terminals use the RFID system for their logistics business.
Kim also said, "Incheon Port, the gateway port to South Korea's capital Seoul, is well equipped with conditions to become a Asia's cruise hub harbor, such as global-level international airport and various cultural and tourism resources in the metropolitan area.
"For instance, the Legend, the luxury cruise ship from the Royal Caribbean International, the world's second largest cruise ship company, decided to set Incheon Port as its home port. With the decision, Incheon Port was globally recognized as an international tourism port," he said.
"Related to this, IPA is moving to finalize a plan to construct a customer-oriented international passenger terminal armed with state-of-the-art facilities for tourism in Incheon in the first half of this year," he said.
Globalization of Incheon Port
President Kim said that IPA has set 2011, the first year to introduce Incheon Port to foreign countries through active promotion activities.
"Heads of resource-rich countries, including Bolivia and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, and many high-ranking foreign government officials, including the Environment Minister of Maldives, visited Incheon last year to benchmark Incheon Port," said Kim.
"In line with this, we are considering building a resources processing logistics center in Mongolia in the near future," he said.
Commenting that Incheon Port possesses 10 out of the total of 14 regular car ferry routes linking Korea and China, he said, "The number of Koreans and Chinese traveling between Korea and China increased by about 20 percent so far this year over the previous year.
"We will focus our efforts on upgrading port facilities and developing new customer-oriented services through persistent consultations with relevant agencies considering changes of consumption patterns in China and the 'hallyu' (Korean wave) culture," the top manager said.
"At the same time, we will activate the tourism business in coastal regions and small islands of West Sea through improvement and PR activities of passenger terminals in Incheon, contributing to regional development," he said.
Noting that Kyungin Ara Canal project, a 32 km-long waterway project linking West Sea and Han River, is to open this year, Kim said, "The project, one of the nation's representative low carbon and green growth projects, is designed to improve logistics system in the metropolitan area, ease traffic jams and activate waterfront tourism.
"With this project, Incheon Port is expected to become a hub of international logistics. In addition, the project will advance Incheon into a gateway for businesses related to the Korean Wave as well as a cultural tourism hot spot with multiple cultural complexes and other amenities installed at the passenger terminal. The terminals along the Ara waterway will play as a hub delivering Korea's traditional brand value."
"To promote creation of more jobs in Incheon Port, we will also push for a powerful policy to promote employment of workers by offering a harbor site rent deduction favor to enterprises employing workers exceeding a certain level," he added.