Asia’s first fully-automated container terminal has started operations at the Port of Qingdao, China, local media reported.
Following completion of its automated phase 4, Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal (QQCTN), which has a total annual capacity of 5.2m teu, handled the 13,386 teu COSCO France.
The automated terminal features 660 m of quay equipped with seven remotely-controlled ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, 38 automated stacking cranes (ASCs) and 38 battery-powered automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
The facility can operate in full darkness at night as it is equipped with laser scanners and positioning systems able to locate the four corners of each container, grab them accurately, and put them onto driverless trucks.
The smart trucks, which are driven by electricity, have routes and tasks under digital control and are able to recognise when they need to be recharged.
This technology reportedly helps cutting labour costs by 70% and increase efficiency by 30% as the terminal is operational also at night.
While it used to take 60 workers to unload a cargo ship, the automatic facility requires only nine of them for the same job.
The terminal, which was built over the course of three years, can handle 2,400 container vessels annually.
According to local media, China is currently building a similar terminal in Shanghai as part of the country’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) projects to build ports, roads, rail and industrial facilities connecting China to Europe.