Automation of container terminals has been a work in progress for decades. Although there have been many advancements, there is still a long road ahead before terminal automation is the norm and not the exception.
In May, the port of Qingdao unveiled its futuristic vision of the container terminal: Day and night, unmanned quay cranes swing from ship to shore, where, guided by lasers, they load and unload containers onto and off of driverless trucks. These electric-powered, automated guided vehicles scurry back and forth between the ship and yard, where yard cranes, devoid of onsite operators, stack and sort.
Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal Co. Ltd., or QQCTN, is Asia’s first fully automated terminal. Shanghai is constructing an even larger fully automated terminal, which is scheduled to open in December.
The latest technology is transforming these Chinese terminals into highly productive machines. But they also stand in stark contrast to the vast majority of the world’s container terminals, where technology is fighting to gain a foothold on operations and where resistance to new forms of automation can run high…
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