Technology standards developed for Shanghai project expected to point the way for the future
A fully automated container terminal involving a total investment of
14 billion yuan ($2.15 billion; 1.78 billion euros; ￡1.58 billion) has
started operating at Shanghai's Yangshan Port, which means China has
broken the monopoly of global suppliers in port automation solutions.
The automated terminal, the fourth phase of the Yangshan Port project
- part of Shanghai Port - has been designed to handle a maximum of 6.3
million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, making it the largest
automation port worldwide. Its unique energy consumption structure
should result in zero carbon dioxide or other emissions while allowing
savings of up to 70 percent.
"The new facility will increase the annual capacity of Shanghai Port
to more than 40 million TEUs, which marks (Shanghai International Port
Group's) entering a new development phase," says Yan Jun, president of
According to Yan, the automatic port intellectual production
management control system acts as the brain of the new port, which
covers an area of 2.23 million square meters. The system was researched
and developed independently by the 200-plus R&D staff of SIPG.
"Before the establishment of the automation port, which is also the
final part of the Port of Shanghai, there were around 20 automation
ports in the world, all adopting systems designed and developed by
global suppliers," says Yan.
To master the core technology of port automation, an R&D team was
formed three years ago, which succeeded in establishing 12 standards,
likely to become the Chinese automation port standards in the future.
Compared with its counterparts, the greatest advantage of the
Yangshan-version system is that it allows port machinery to perform
loading and unloading at the same time, according to Yan.
"It is also worth mentioning that all of the port machinery was
provided by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co Ltd (ZPMC), with 100
percent Chinese intellectual property rights," says Yan.
ZPMC, the world's largest port machinery manufacturer, plans in the
next decade to make automated container terminals a new growth engine of
the company, said Song Hailiang, chairman of ZPMC and vice-president of
China Communications Construction Co Ltd, during an earlier interview
with China Daily.
The future of terminals lies in unmanned technology. Through remote
control, intelligent container terminals will have better performance
and lower operational costs than traditional ones, added Song.
"The experience learned from developing and operating the automation
port will help us to acquire a full set of intellectual property rights,
so as to make duplication of the port possible," says Yan.
Currently, SIPG and ZPMC are looking forward to forming a
commercialized operation model for automation port development, and some
port operators are already showing an interest in their facilities.
Two decades ago, the Port of Shanghai was the only one in the Yangtze
River Delta region on the list of the world's top 100 ports. Back then,
the number of containers it handled accounted for less than 2 percent
of the global volume.
Thanks to years of efforts in policy support and innovative
development, the Port of Shanghai surpassed the Port of Singapore to
become the world's largest container port in 2010. It has retained the
title since then, and saw its container operating volume rise for seven
consecutive years. A total of 37.13 million TEU containers were handled
by the Port of Shanghai throughout 2016.
From January to November last year, SIPG handled 520 million metric
tons of cargo, up by 10 percent year-on-year, and handled 36.88 million
TEUs of containers during the same period -8.3 percent more than last
year, setting a record.