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The Reality of Automation

Shipping, it goes without saying, is a critical industry within the rapidly evolving global economy and one that will be impacted hugely by the evolution of technology. Whilst the shipping industry is a notoriously conservative one, it is not immune to the advances of technology and we cannot avoid embracing it. If current industry players don’t, others will, and we could risk losing our relevance and be replaced. At the same time, shipping itself is already evolving in other ways. Broader alliances between shipping lines has created a ‘Power Four’ of 2M, Ocean Three, G6 and CKYHE; giving individual companies within each alliance the benefits of larger, more cost-effective networks (allowing them to pool and use their largest and most efficient vessels). Vessel sizes themselves continue to increase, with fewer ports able to accommodate them, and increasing concerns about how they will.

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Of course, these factors are creating new demands on ports, which increasingly need to compete to attract ‘super’ shipping lines. Super ships need super ports, with enhanced physical infrastructure and technology to support them. In turn, the new breed of super ports will require new technologies and skillsets to establish a foothold in the new world of shipping and thrive. That’s where automation makes its entrance, as ports and terminals look towards automated technologies to cope and compete in this increasingly complex landscape…

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Richard Hepworth, Managing Director, Trelleborg Marine Systems, Dubai, UAE

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