A new approach to port operations via technology is essential as competition increases and the need for efficiency in cargo handling grows, says Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World.
“A new approach is necessary as certain practices are now outdated and it is essential that the operational systems of all GCC ports function as competitively as possible,” he told Gulf News in a recent interview.
Globally, transport infrastructure investment is projected to increase by about 5 per cent annually through to 2025, according to PwC.
By then, expenditure on sea port infrastructure is expected to have doubled from its 2014 benchmark.
In the UAE, some US $65 billion (AED 238.7 billion) was invested in the country’s maritime sector last year, according to figures from the country’s infrastructure development ministry.
“Customers are looking for speed, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, and as such investment focus is based upon optimising the customer experience,” Bin Sulayem says.
“First-class infrastructure that delivers a commercially viable and effective solutions is at the heart of that consideration.”
“Port capacity is one of the most prominent issues,” says Bin Sulayem. “As larger berths and container terminals enable more vessels to dock at ports and greater quantities of cargo to be processed, capacity is one key focus.”
But port expansion is expensive, and leaves ports vulnerable to the whims of economic cycles. Jebel Ali Port’s Terminal 4 expansion, for example, has been put on hold due to the downturn in global trade.
DP World’s answer is in technology. The new BoxBay high bay storage system is an automated multi-tier container stacking system that will enable the port to handle the same number of containers as a conventional terminal, but in a third of the space.
“We are excited by the prospects for BOXBAY as handling speed and efficiencies are key aspects of the ports and terminals business and the system is a major development for the sector around the world. We look forward to the technology being installed especially in readiness for Expo 2020,” says Bin Sulayem.