Achieving full automation or a truly smart port is not as simple as flicking a switch and turning everything on. For a port it is a journey that will evolve over time and must take into consideration a multitude of variables and challenges. The journey many are exploring today is one of retrofitting existing equipment in order to enhance operations and drive efficiencies.
ZPMC, the world’s largest crane manufacturer, has said that the growth rate of automation retrofit projects is now exceeding the rate of new automation terminal projects.
Speaking to PTI for this edition of the Journal, the company said that more users have a desire to retrofit brownfield terminals. This of course requires less investment than the construction of a fully automated greenfield site, making it an attractive solution.
For many, it will come down to the return on investment: will the terminal be able to achieve the efficiencies necessary with semi automation, rather than going all out on full automation.
There is an argument that for some terminal operators it may be more useful to automate only parts of the terminal operations. Dr Rafiq Swash, Founder, AIDrivers points out in his article that for the automation providers they must ensure that their solutions are “easy to slot into existing brownfield terminals to render semi automation viable and attractive”.
Automation is not the only efficiency-driving technology our contributors have highlighted in this edition of the Journal. We also discuss the use of drones, how to reduce container handling downtime and container visibility across the supply chain.
Each solution strives to make the supply chain as seamless as possible and remove the problems that cause major inefficiencies. Regarding drones, Lorenz Technology highlights how a drone solution specifically designed for the port industry can help in the transition to the fully automated terminal.
Hyster discusses how to overcome container handling downtime, a costly event, by mitigating the threat of downtime before it happens.
Finally, Navis examines the supply chain from the ship to the intermodal terminal and how data exchange between the two could benefit the cargo owner in the future.