Automation milestone boosts SPG's Rizhao Port

(| Updated : 2021-10-11

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The world's first side-loading and parallel-layout fully automated container terminal is opened at Rizhao Port on Oct 9. The milestone facility features low costs and short construction duration, and it yields quick results. [Video provided to]

Oct 9 marked a major milestone for Rizhao Port – the natural deep-water seaport on the coast of the city of Rizhao, in East China's Shandong province – with the opening of the world's first side-loading and parallel-layout fully automated container terminal.

Rizhao Port is operated by Chinese ports giant Shandong Port Group, or SPG – which is headquartered in Qingdao city in Shandong – and the new terminal is widely considered in the industry to be a shining example of the transformation and upgrading of conventional terminals to fully automated container terminals by SPG at global ports.

The group has reportedly become a paragon for the construction of completely automated container terminals that feature low costs, short construction durations and bring with them quick results.

Rizhao Port is regarded as a key unit of SPG – as well as a critical subsidiary – to help tap the great potential for the group's container throughput and growth.

But for small and medium-sized container terminals like Rizhao Port, high investment and the long process of construction posed challenges for SPG.

Bucking the trend, after only 14 months of construction, Rizhao Port's engineering team developed fully automated container operations there, thanks to independent innovation and on-the-ground adoption of local technologies.

A global pioneer

Currently, major fully automated container terminals are laid out worldwide vertically. Rizhao Port has taken the lead in setting up a side-loading and a parallel-layout in a fully automated container terminal, with energy consumption reduced by an estimated 50 percent for a single container.

Making new progress

Gone are the days when unmanned autonomous trucks were unable to move without the presence of human drivers. The arrival of the terminal is expected to usher in the rollout of unmanned driving applied at ports around the world.

Creating a groundbreaking facility

The new terminal is widely seen as creating a groundbreaking precedent, when it comes to turning conventional terminals into fully automated container terminals across the globe. Its advent is expected to result in 70 percent reductions in comprehensive operating costs, in another world-leading achievement.

Tech-savvy operating system lends a helping hand

Rizhao Port is employing cutting-edge technologies such as the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and 5G communications. Its automatic port intellectual production management control system or TOS system reportedly serves as the brain for the port's fully automated container operations process.

Independent innovation

The engineering team has independently developed a vehicle-to-X – or V2X – intelligent transport system, in which all vehicles and infrastructure systems are interconnected with each other. This is said to have led to the safe, orderly and harmonious coexistence of unmanned and general container trucks.

Industry leading functionality

The terminal has made innovative progress in realizing one-click container grabs and releases on the land side – with the success rate reaching 100 percent – ranking it in the highest standard of the industry.

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The by-product of the move from conventional yards to fully automated container terminals, Rizhao Port is seen as a pathfinder in the industry. It has successfully ramped up efforts to turn itself into a smart and green port, to bolster the general evolution of port intelligence. [Photo provided to]