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World’s Largest Port Trials Container Automation

Containerisation transformed the global economy just over six decades ago by making the movement of cargo long distances an easier, faster and cheaper process. It was a revolution of efficiency, inspired by a trucking entrepreneur from North Carolina in the USA in the late 1950s.  Decades later and container automation continues to develop through global innovations.

Right now, shipping containers are undergoing world’s largest port trials container automation. Computer controlled container carriers and other machines are facilitating the flow of shipping containers filled with cargo at the world’s most modernised ports. As 2017 comes to a close, a new milestone has just been met. The world’s largest port, the Port of Shanghai, is trialling automation, raising the bar for ports worldwide to become more economically and environmentally efficient.

How Container Automation Works

Imagine thousands of tonnes of cargo held in brightly coloured steel shipping containers being seamlessly transferred from loading dock to cargo ship by cranes and carriers, with a lot of the work being carried out by computers. The cranes that lift the shipping containers onto the ships are often still manpowered, but the container carriers are fully automated in these more tech-equipped ports. In the most technologically advanced, such as Rotterdam in the Netherlands, even the cranes are controlled remotely by workers in an office.

The Shanghai Container Breakthrough

The Port of Shanghai is the world’s busiest port, with a record setting 37 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) being handled in 2016. In early December of 2017, the port officially entered into the future of containerization when it began using automation software to run some of the port’s equipment.

This is an important step for a port that often faces congestion problems due to the sheer amount of cargo that comes in and goes out every day. Shanghai is a major transaction point for trade between the US and China. It also helps establish Shanghai as a world-leading shipping container port city.

Not only will this tech upgrade help to make the port more efficient, it’s also expected to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 10 percent. Currently there are a total of 50 cranes and 50 automated guided vehicles that have been tested and put into operation with automation. There are plans for dozens more to be used in the future.

As ports around the world adopt more extensive use of container automation and forge ahead with new ways to implement technology into their operations, containerization will continue to prove its worth to the world – and conex boxes will continue to be a staple of our globalized modern society.