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Implementing technology can increase the capacity and efficiency of a port

Drones are quickly becoming a regular tool in the ports and logistics industry. Ports are using drones in their routine monitoring to improve safety, reduce costs and enhance process efficiency. Around the world, from the Netherlands to Vietnam, ports are using airobotics drones for controlling aerial cargo transport, monitoring ships, cleaning the local environment and tracking the construction of ports.

Earlier this year, the Port of Antwerp- Bruges and its partners DroneMatrix, SkeyDrone and Proximus were given the green light to launch their drone-in-a-box network D-Hive. This means operational authorisation was given for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) automated drone flights to take place on a daily basis in the Antwerp port area, a first in the world.

Following the announcement, representatives from European and national regulatory authorities related to drone aviation (including the likes of Eurocontrol, FPS Mobility and Transport, and Skeyes) witnessed the first authorised flight of a BVLOS drone near the Kieldrecht lock, operated from a command and control centre located in the centre of the port.

The operational authorisation is built around a BVLOS framework built by SkeyDrone and approved by the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency as a legitimate and safe framework for BVLOS flights.

HIGH-BAY STORAGE

HBS systems are automated container handling systems that stack containers up to 11 floors high, delivering more than three times the capacity of a conventional yard with enhanced performance including significant gains in handling speed, energy efficiency, safety and reduced operating costs.

DP World in Dubai recently started its pilot phase of BoxBay – an HBS system, in collaboration with industrial engineering specialists SMS Group in Germany – to reduce by at least 70% the land area needed to support terminal operations, and increase yearly yard throughput per hectare by more than 300% in comparison with a rubber-tyred gantry crane (RTG) container yard.

Originally created to handle heavy metal coils, the storage system was refined for port logistics after SMS Group proved the technology in the metals industry. DP World and SMS Group built a pilot facility at Jebel Ali’s Terminal 4 in January 2021. By the end of June 2022, 190,000 container movements had been carried out under realistic operating conditions to verify the system’s market maturity.

DP World announced the first commercial use of BoxBay at South Korea’s Pusan container terminal and more recently signed a contract with Pusan Newport Corporation (PNC). PNC already operates one of the highest-performing container terminals in Asia, and the addition of BoxBay’s technology will allow PNC to boost its efficiency even further.

“This is where the future of trade begins. We have taken a technology that has proven its effectiveness in the metals industry in Germany and further transformed it to create BoxBay, an innovative container storage system to enhance global trade,” says Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO, DP World. “Our pilot scheme in Jebel Ali (Dubai) has already shown the advantages of a fully automated, sustainably powered high-bay storage system. I’m proud that DP World has led this innovation that will now be adopted in Pusan. The technology reflects our continuous efforts to embrace technologies that enhance the flow of trade and further enhances Dubai’s position as a global leader in the ports and logistics industry.”

BoxBay will be integrated with the existing automated rail-mounted gantry/ truck operations as a retrofit on an existing empty storage area. The system provides direct access to each container at any time, eliminating 350,000 unproductive moves per year. This will improve overall truck servicing time by 20%, enhancing PNC’s service delivery to its customers.

Tiemen Meester, COO Ports & Terminals, DP World, says: “With the introduction of the BoxBay high-bay storage system, we will be able to better serve our customers while keeping our people safe and cutting carbon emissions from the environment.”

SINGAPORE

Data and analytics applications are allowing supply chains to adopt a proactive rather than a reactive response to supply chain risks. Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) has established a dataenabled traffic prediction tool to forecast vessel arrival times and estimate potential traffic congestion using predictive analytics.

In 2020, the MPA and tech firm IBM began rolling out an analytics and data scheme aimed at improving maritime and port operations and completed the pilot trial of three modules under the MPA-IBM Safer (Sense-making Analytics For maritime Event Recognition) project, to support Singapore’s growth in vessel traffic.

Altogether, there are seven modules under Project Safer, which offers new capabilities for automating and increasing the accuracy of critical tasks that previously relied on human observation, reporting, very high frequency (VHF) communication, and data entry. The seven modules include: automated movement detection, infringement analytics, pilot boarding detection, bunkering analytics, prohibited area analytics, vessel traffic arrival prediction, and utilisation detection and prediction.

“We will continue to develop our digital strategies through the use of data analytics and machine learning technologies to optimise our port operations and enforcement to meet existing as well as future demands in the areas of next-generation port enforcement and monitoring of vessel movements,” says Andrew Tan, CEO, MPA.

Robert Morris, VP, Global Labs, IBM Research, adds: “AI is transforming every industry and the marine domain is no exception. The Safer solution is an example of how IBM’s AI research for business is supplementing and increasing human capacity by making our waterways and sea lanes safer and more efficient.”

Tuas Port, in Singapore, which opened in September 2022 and is expected to be completed in 2040, will be the world’s largest fully automated terminal, with a handling capacity of 65 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), almost double the handling volume of 37.3 million TEUs handled in 2022.

To further maritime digitalisation and the development of the future concept of operations, MPA and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in August 2022 to provide full maritime 5G coverage in its anchorages, fairways, terminals and boarding grounds by mid-2025.

Implementing technology can increase the capacity and efficiency of a port

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