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The Automated Empty Container Depot: A World First for Rotterdam

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Author(s): Joost Achterkamp, CEO, Solid Port Solutions

Container terminal automation is reaching a mature stage of development and most new projects incorporate some elements of automation. One of the new areas for process optimization that until now has been mainly ignored is the handling and storage of empty containers.

Whilst the optimization of empty container flows has received widespread attention, the cost to shipping lines for depots to process and handle empty containers is hidden within the total of container repositioning. The crucial role in the process of preparing an empty for delivery to the next client or for repositioning to another locati on is the ‘Empty Container Depot’.

Traditionally depots have consisted of minimal civil infrastructure and have relied on ‘Empty Container Handlers (ECHs)’ with basic inventory systems and have been limited to the extent to which they can optimize their processes. Typically, empty container depot operations are…


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