UAE - Transport
Port Manager, RAK Ports
Justin Wardle is the Port Manager of Saqr Port & Ras Al Khaimah (Khor) Port joining the RAK Ports Group in 2011. He has been in the UAE since 2008 and retired from the British Royal Navy after completing over 24 years, serving at sea and ashore. He holds an honors degree in leaderships and management, a diploma in administrative management, and a diploma in port management and is a fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), a member of the Institute of Logistics & Transport (ILT), and a qualified ISO 9001/14001/45001 Auditor, Port Facilities Security Officer (PFSO). He is currently studying for an MBA in port and general management.
There are five ports in the RAK Ports Group and each performs different functions. We have a bulk aggregate port (Saqr Port), private jetties for our tenants (RAK Maritime City Free Zone), one that does warehousing and layby for vessels (RAK (Khor) Port), a ship repair yard (Al Jazeera Port), and a marina and warehousing (Al Jeer Port). We have faced different challenges but because we have such a flexible workforce across those five ports and we were all under one management group we were able to move those people to support the activity needed at any one time. That is how we kept our business running well. We achieved our targets by the end of 2021 and even exceeded some of them. On top of that we were already in the process of upskilling some of our staff. We have also been going through a two-and-a-half year digitalization program. During the pandemic, it took us two months to drop and two months to come back up in a “V” shape recovery, which we achieved by the end of the year.
We engaged several years ago with a company called Envision. It developed a new port terminal operation system for us that converted our Excel spreadsheets and manual documentation into a digital format. We can access live statistical data of what is happening from bulk cargo operations directly on the quay to seeing what appears in the new ops room. Saqr Port has developed a full new ops room with video walls and big screens along with the administration teams that are able to see what is happening on the ground on live CCTV. Also, our fleet and mobile harbor cranes feature a computer brain called a PLC that is now Wi-Fi linked to our ops room through our RUBUS System so we can track what is being loaded to ships and in what timeframe, as well as what cycle times those cranes are working in, where and when they are sat idle and ready for allocation to a different berth where needed. This amounts to a digital process that shows exactly what is happening on the ground from one central location. It has improved our efficiencies considerably.
My background for several decades is logistics and supply chain management, and here I am port manager and I understand the air, road and sea freight options around the globe as well as here in the UAE and Ras Al Khaimah. I personally think that the UAE does very well. We have a number of significant container terminals scattered throughout the UAE. The air freight hubs are second to none coming into any of the individual airports whether that be Dubai International, Abu Dhabi, or even DWC. With the sea and the air freight routes you are not going to get better anywhere else in the world. The challenge from that supply chain is the physical ships being able to transit around those different ports to be able to drop off their cargo. The cost of shipping has obviously significantly increased over this year as it did last year. Some the customers are struggling with being able to afford the supply chain, rather than it actually not being there. The UAE has the supply chain in place whereby ships, aircraft and road transport can call throughout the UAE. The road links are perfect from any of the industrial zones through to the Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi, and Ras Al Khaimah Ports.