Auckland to Automate Container Terminal


By MarEx 2016-08-13 20:21:39

Ports of Auckland in New Zealand is preparing to partially automate its container terminal. It will be the first New Zealand port and only the third straddle carrier terminal in the world to automate.

When complete in 2019, automated straddle carriers will be used to load and unload trucks and operate the container yard. Manually-driven straddle carriers will continue to work between the yard and ship-to-shore cranes.

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said “This is a game changer for us. We need more container terminal capacity, but we can't expand through reclamation, so we have to go up.  Automation allows us to do that safely and efficiently.

“This stage of automation will increase our terminal capacity from just over 900,000 TEU a year to 1.6-1.7 million TEU annually. That is enough to support an Auckland population of around 2.7 million. In other words, this technology gives us an additional 30-40 years of capacity.”

Automation will also help the port operate sustainably. Automated straddle carriers will use up to 10 percent less fuel, need less light and operate more quietly, reducing the port’s impact on neighboring communities. “And they will lower our costs, making our operation more competitive and sustainable long-term,” he added.

As a result of automation, around 50 stevedoring roles could go. As the project will take about three years to implement, the port will endeavor to manage the reduction in roles through a combination of staff turnover, retirement and retraining.

Ports of Auckland currently operates a fleet of 13 meter tall manual straddle carriers which can stack containers up to three high. The automated straddle carriers will be 15.8 meters tall and will be able to stack containers up to four high.

Automated straddle carriers will operate on the truck grid and in the yard, where the work is less complex. Stevedores will continue to drive straddles between the container yard and the ship-to-shore cranes. This is because automation is more complex in this area, and while it has been done at two other ports, it delivers lower productivity than Ports of Auckland currently achieves. 

Ports of Auckland is New Zealand's import hub and New Zealand's largest and most productive container port, handling nearly one million containers a year.

In the 2014/15 financial year Ports of Auckland also handled 5.9m tons of non-containerized cargo, including 243,000 cars.

It is also New Zealand's premier cruise port. The port handles over 90 cruise ships annually and each ship visit is worth about $1.5m to the local economy.