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How automation is changing the way we trade

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How automation is changing the way we trade article image

Ports across the globe are experiencing a major transformation.

Gone are the days of labour intensive loading and unloading of cargo.

To streamline operations and reduce turnaround times, ports and terminals are now looking to new technology.

One company that’s leading the transformation is Kalmar, a specialist in terminal automation and cargo handling.

Kalmar helps ports and terminals throughout the world to find intelligent cargo solutions to improve efficiency and increase productivity.

“The port of the future will be automated and highly efficient, says Peter McLean, senior vice president, Kalmar APAC.

“It will run on renewable energy with zero carbon emissions and use data to fundamentally change the way trading across the world operates.”

Mr McLean, a keynote speaker at the recent Global Shippers Forum 2018 in Melbourne, says to remain competitive, ports must embrace automation.

“Technology is moving faster these days,” he told Dynamic Export.

“It is akin to a new home appliance you buy today – they will come in some forms of automation or digital functionality.

“The same goes to ports. In any equipment that the port purchases today, they will have to look into some forms of automation in order to keep up with the development else they will lose their placing in the long term.”

And exporters are the big winners.

With automation, exporters enjoy consistent and predictable service from the cargo handling equipment.

Less air, light and noise pollution

They can also expect less damage to cargo as equipment accuracy improves. The landing impact of the container will most likely be reduced as compared to manually operated equipment.

Also, ports and terminals with automation benefit from less air, light and noise pollution, which make the port suitable to be within vicinity of residential areas.

And automation has brought with it safer workplaces.

“Safety has always been in our top of mind when we develop new and existing solutions,” says Mr McLean.

“Automated terminals enable near-zero accidents simply by separating people from container handling equipment. It creates both a safer and more comfortable working environment.

“Data shows that terminals who have converted to automation see a drastic reduction in accident rates. The gains are also financial as safer terminals benefit from lower insurance premiums and reduced compensation costs.”

State-of-the-art equipment

And not only does it improve efficiency and safety, automation also provides more high skilled jobs in the maritime industry – an industry traditionally dominated by blue-collared workers.

Kalmar has been working with ports globally since the beginning of port automation.

The company provides state-of-the-art equipment such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs), au

tomated stacking cranes (ASCs), Shuttle Carriers, AutoShuttles™ and AutoStrads™.

In partnership with Navis, it has developed digital solutions, including terminal operating system (TOS) to the ports.

Kalmar and Navis, both part of parent company Cargotec, delivered the first OneTerminal automation solution to International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) at the Port of Melbourne in September last year.

World’s first fully automated international container handling facility

The OneTerminal solution enabled Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) to optimise operations, speed up turnaround times and deliver unprecedented efficiency in key areas of the terminal.

The deployment has also made VICT the world’s first fully automated international container handling facility.

Separately in Port of Brisbane, Kalmar worked with DP World to transform the terminal into one of the most highly automated facilities in the world, increasing the terminal's annual capacity from 600,000 to 900,000 TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit), as well as improved customer service.

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Growing demand

Mr McLean says there is growing demand for automated ports worldwide.

“The world is so much more advanced than it was ten years ago,” he says.

“There will definitely be demand for automation in various forms, such as gates, trucks, the yard behind the ship-to-shore cranes, or it can mean fully automated terminals from unloading of cargo till it leaves the terminal.

“In the next five to ten years, it is very likely that most ports in Asia will have some part of their operation automated.”

Mr McLean says ports will have to consider buying equipment that is up-to-date and can help them move towards automation in the future.

“With competition building up in Asia, you can see automation gradually happening.

“China and Singapore are good examples of ports looking for automated solutions. 

“In order to stay competitive, the rest of the ports will surely follow.”

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