The University of Liverpool has joined a research partnership with the Port of Dover to overcome barriers and enhance supply chain management using artificial intelligence.

This partnership is an addition to collaborations between the port and universities of Manchester, Kent and Cranfield across a range of services, which include port optimisation for AI, machine learning and physics-based deep learning.

According to the Port of Dover statistics, Dover has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic figures, with 10,863,262 passengers in 2019 compared to 6,559,169 passengers in 2022.

Port of Dover has recently experienced substantial delays and backlogs, pointing to a lack of technical innovation, according to the University of Liverpool.

The Port of Dover’s chief commercial officer Christian Pryce said: “The Port of Dover’s vision to become a smart, seamless and sustainable port is fast coming to fruition, but the only way this vision can be realised is through collaboration with first-class thinkers and researchers.

“This first set of collaborative agreements provides a framework for engagement between the Port and four university partners – bringing projects together and acting as a springboard to remarkable digital solutions.”

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The University of Liverpool, Cranfield and Kent will focus their resources on traffic flow optimisation, logistics and the supply chain through the Port and across the wider region.

The partnership with the University of Manchester is focused on creating a digital twin for the Port of Dover using machine learning and physics-based deep learning.

Pryce added: “A UK Research and Innovation-sponsored feasibility study has already identified the potential of an AI-driven digital twin for the Port of Dover, which will revolutionise both landside and marine operations. While port optimisation projects represent opportunities for supply chain and logistics solutions to create thriving environments for commercial partners.”

Dongping Song, an expert in supply chain management at the University of Liverpool Management School, further emphasised how the opportunity will benefit both the port and the wider region.

Song said: “We are very pleased to join the partnership with the Port of Dover to help tackle the strategic challenges the port faces.

“We will contribute our expertise in port operations, logistics and supply chain management, optimisation and AI, to help drive operational efficiencies and create environmental and social value in the Port of Dover and the wider region.”