Port and Border Resilience

Recent disruptions at ports and borders worldwide highlight their importance in global supply chain operations. And any disruption or friction at ports has a cost; global supplies are constrained. In extreme cases, government regulators may be called in for assistance where access to critical supplies is no more available.

While at the University of Nottingham I benefited from substantial EPSRC and ESRC research funding to focus on the resilience of UK ports. This led to some very fruitful outputs in cooperations with research colleagues at UCL and in Nottingham. The subjects of Port Resilience and Trade Facilitation overlap extensively. For starters, ports are the gateways to global markets and trade facilitation seeks to make sure that any friction between business operators and government agencies is minimised. The topics also overlap because they both share very similar stakeholder communities. What differs is the context.

When ports face disruption the objective is to work out how to keep traffic flowing; and when things fall apart, to work out how to mitigate the impact and recover quickly – ie to be resilient. Trade facilitation is about implementing measures that get rid of friction – for example by making procedures simpler or harmonising adminstrative arrangements with trade partners. In both subjects it is the quality of relationships between the various stakeholders that counts.

In our research we experimented extensively with computer simulations (using historic trade and traffic data in a visually engaging way) that were then used to inform conversations amongst port stakeholders about the impacts and responses to various disaster scenarios. The resulting conversations could then be used to feed into various policy and contingency planning activities. We also piloted ideas for data sharing, where we sought to make transparent who holds operationally useful information so that disaster responses can be best planned and prepared for.

The resulting research pipeline produced a number of interesting publications. These include:

  • Grainger, A., & Achuthan, K. (2014) Port resilience: a primer
  • Grainger, A (2016) “Foreword” in Maritime Security and Resilience, UK Department for Transport
  • Grainger, A., Shaw, D. and Ashuthan, K. (2017) “Port resilience”, in Port Operations, Management and Policy, A Beresford and S Pettit, Kogan Page
  • Shaw, D., Grainger, A., A. Achuthan (2017) “Multi-level port resilience planning in the UK: How can information sharing be made easier?”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Volume 121, August 2017, Pages 126-138
  • Anand, N and Grainger, A “The port as a critical piece of national infrastructure”, Safety and Reliability, February, 37(2-3):1-22, January
  • Shaw, D; Achuthan K, Sharma A and Grainger A (2019) “Resilience Orchestration and Resilience Facilitation: how government can orchestrate the whole UK ports market with limited resources – the case of UK ports resilience”, Government Information Quarterly, Volume 36, Issue 2, April 2019, Pages 252-263
  • Grainger, A., Rundle, J. and Ahsen, S. R. (2019) “Customs and Humanitarian Logistics”, Global Trade and Customs Journal, Vol 14, Issue 4, April
  • Grainger, A (2021) “Borders and Disaster Relief Logistics Operations” in Cross-Border Logistics Operations, A Grainger, Kogan Page

Much of the above work and related publications can also be found on ResearchGate. Enquires about future research opportunities are very welcome.