• ITVI.USA
    15,615.260
    270.480
    1.8%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.852
    -0.002
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    19.840
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,608.360
    280.700
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.890
    0.070
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.540
    -0.040
    -1.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    0.030
    2.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.660
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.360
    0.030
    1.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.100
    0.080
    2%
  • WAIT.USA
    129.000
    2.000
    1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,615.260
    270.480
    1.8%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.852
    -0.002
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    19.840
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,608.360
    280.700
    1.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.890
    0.070
    2.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.540
    -0.040
    -1.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.290
    0.030
    2.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.660
    0.010
    0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.360
    0.030
    1.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.100
    0.080
    2%
  • WAIT.USA
    129.000
    2.000
    1.6%
American ShipperShipping

What’s the payoff from terminal automation?

Implementing new technologies can be costly but could boost efficiency and relieve wharf congestion.

   Although North American terminals are lagging behind in automation compared to their Asian and European counterparts, they may want to more seriously consider such technologies as the average containership size continues to increase, coupled with rising demand amid a stronger economy.
   However, North American terminals aren’t called by the 21,000-plus TEU ships that frequent these Asian and European ports, so in a way, it only makes sense that they would lag behind.
   Automating a terminal can be extremely costly, leaving the question as to whether it will actually pay off.
   In addition, automation has received pushback from longshoremen over concerns of it replacing jobs. For instance, the ILA and USMX had halted talks in December on renegotiating a labor contract that’s set to expire on Sept. 30 due to disagreements over automation. However, talks resumed in March, with the ILA and USMX saying later that month that “significant progress” had been made.
   Several port studies have shown that automating an entire port or an entire terminal is “horrific” and the benefits, at least in North America, have not been proven viable, Vickerman & Associates President and CEO John Vickerman said at the Rail Supply Chain Summit in Chicago last week.
   “If we look at what’s happening overseas, selectively picking technologies that particularly increase the capacity of our terminals might be a viable solution,” he said.
   “Remote crane operators, 150-foot gauge container cranes and automated mooring systems should start to be something we routinely consider in North America,” according to Vickerman.
   Terminal 4 at DP World’s Jebel Ali Port uses remote-controlled cranes that complete 40 to 60 lifts per hour, with the crane operator half a mile inland in an air-conditioned building. “Their productivity is twice to three times ours,” Vickerman said.
   He also said that cranes with a 150-foot gauge — something yet to be seen in North America — would ease congestion on the wharf.
   Meanwhile, automated mooring systems, also something we don’t have in North American ports, could get rid of the cost of the deck crew and line handlers, he added. “A big containership will come up, the mooring system will come out, grab the ship, bring it in, control its surge and afford ships movements, allowing the cranes to come in without having the spreaders hang up in the cell guides,” he said.
   Cavotec, for instance, said its automated mooring system, dubbed MoorMaster, moors vessels within 30 seconds, with a 10-second detach, thus increasing throughput and can also lead to emissions reductions of over 90 percent.
   “MoorMaster dramatically improves safety and operational efficiency, optimizes the ship-to-shore interface and, in many cases, enables ports to make infrastructure savings,” the company said.

We are glad you’re enjoying the content

Sign up for a free FreightWaves account today for unlimited access to all of our latest content

By signing in for the first time, I give consent for FreightWaves to send me event updates and news. I can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information please see our Privacy Policy.