Economic Justification in Automation Projects

Economic Justification in Automation Projects

Marco Fehmer, General Manager, DSP; and Claudio Boër, Vice-President of the Board, University of Applied Science of Southern Switzerland; Switzerland

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In recent years, process automation has become a common in design guidelines for greenfield port planning and brownfield revamping. Automated quay cranes, stacking cranes, shuttle carries, AGVs, remote driving consoles and smart devices for real-time location systems, OCR, automated gates, automatic inventory and hand off systems have proven their efficacy and value on many projects. However, an economic justification is always required too.

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This justification is based on the quantification of cost savings from increased production, increased uptime and reduced raw material costs, yet there are also more “soft” beneficial aspects such as increased flexibility (to be debated according to each project) and safer environments. The bottom line is always what makes a company more competitive.

The development of automation

Automation has always been at the forefront of logistical operations after the first industrial revolution started with the introduction of the steam engine. The steam engine and the other enabling technologies such as electricity with the electric motor (and its derivatives) has pushed the substitution of manpower in manufacturing and, in a more broad sense, in all production and industrial activities.

The coming of the computer and its marriage with machinery then pushed automation in production and assembly lines even further, while simultaneously increasing speed, precision and availability.

With larger computer capacities and more powerful computers, automation was able to spread beyond the simple...

  Embracing Automation      Automation and Optimisation, Finance, Global Terminal Operators, Mega Ship Ready, Port Focus, Terminal Logistics

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Embracing Automation


Edition 70, entitled Embracing Automation, is one of PTI’s most expansive editions ever and features a wide range of papers centred round the latest automated practices and technologies and queries the pros, cons and misconceptions of automation in the contemporary age.

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