Liftoff in demand for automated ports

Updated 2017-04-13 11:30:24 China Daily

Workers at the port machinery base of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co Ltd in Nantong, Jiangsu province. (Photo by Xu Congjun/For China Daily)

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co Ltd, the world's biggest port machinery manufacturer, said it sees automated port terminals becoming a new growth engine and expects them to further expand to reach 100 countries and regions in 2017.

The goal to grab a bigger slice of the international market will be achieved by continued innovations in engineering and the Belt and Road Initiative, a government-backed initiative, to enhance connectivity and promote trade, said Song Hailiang, chairman of ZPMC and vice-president of its parent China Communications Construction Co Ltd.

"ZPMC is a pioneer and a steady enforcer of the Belt and Road Initiative," he said.

"Over 50 countries and regions along the routes have installed ZPMC equipment and I expect the number to grow as the initiative brings synergies and radiates to more economies."

ZPMC claimed 82 percent of the world's quay crane market last year, according to World Cargo News, a trade journal based in the United Kingdom.

Despite a global decrease in international demand for shipbuilding and major infrastructure projects, demand for fully automated container systems is brisk, part of the effort to trim costs and raise efficiency in the long term.

The terminals use highly automated systems and machinery, with minimal human intervention, to handle the flood of goods that trade deals push to the docks, Song said. He added that these cut labor costs by 70 percent and improve productivity by as much as 30 percent.

The number of automated ports is expected to reach 100 by 2020, according to Kalmar, a Finland-headquartered cargo handling solutions and services provider.

The company has made a mark in the sector, currently constructing the automated terminal project of Qingdao Port in Shandong province and the fourth phase of the Yangshan Deep-water Port in Shanghai.

"We are on the right track to provide the new generation automated port systems to customers around the world," he said.

ZPMC has already received orders for automated terminals from Rotterdam World Gateway in the Netherlands and the Italian port of Vado Ligure. It is eyeing expanding to Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia.

"The Belt and Road Initiative starts with physical connection of high-speed roads, railways, airports and ports," he said.

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