New Zealand’s container port Ports of Auckland is preparing to start works to partially automate its container terminal, which would make it the country’s first port and 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.
“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,” Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said.
With this stage of automation, the port’s terminal capacity is expected to increase from some 900,000 TEU to 1.6-1.7 million TEU annually.
Gibson added that automated straddle carriers would use up to 10% less fuel, reducing the port’s carbon footprint.
The announcement comes after a year of consultation with staff and unions and detailed studies to prove the concept’s safety and effectiveness.
As a result of automation, around 50 stevedores would lose their jobs.
However, the port authority claims that, as the project would take around three years to implement, there would be enough time to manage the job cuts through normal staff turnover and retirement.