Speaking on a panel devoted to “Robotics & Automation in Container Terminals” at the TOC Europe’s 40th annual industry gathering devoted to port and terminal technology and operations, APM Terminals Head of Terminal Design and Automation, Alex Duca outlined the concept of container terminal design by module and the importance of integrated automation and information sharing across every aspect of terminal cargo handling to make operations safer and better.
“The biggest business opportunity is in retrofitting existing terminals with the automation of key processes to enhance our current operational performance,” said Duca, adding “This is where you can evaluate some of the specific modules within a container terminal to see which processes can be improved through automation.”
With larger vessels entering into service, as well as the organic growth of global trade, pressure on terminal operations to avoid congestion during peak cargo-handling periods of high activity has become an increasingly important aspect of future operations planning.
“What we want is a more integrated container terminal encompassing control systems and equipment functions, instead of today’s fragmented activity container terminal; we need to make better use of equipment sensors and systems that combine with logistical information provided by terminal systems if we are to achieve automation’s true potential,” said Duca.
Container volume handled by the world’s ports is projected to reach approximately 720 million TEUs this year, roughly double the global container volume of just 13 years ago. Physical constraints on the number of cranes which can work any particular vessel, even one as large as 20,000 TEU capacity, and the need to transport containers out of the terminal without congestion or increased safety risks to the terminal workforce are driving the next phase of terminal design, development and operations in which data sharing at each aspect of cargo handling will enable new demands for container handling and productivity to be met.
“Terminals need to keep pace with volume growth and vessel growth, and the clear solution is integrated automation of terminal operations processes,” stated Duca.
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