The portstudy of PortEconomics members Theo Notteboom and Thanos Pallis, and Geraldine Knatz focuses on the automation of terminal equipment used to handle containers.
A dataset was compiled, including 63 fully and semi-automated container terminals worldwide, their organizational features, technical dimensions, and the maritime and urban markets they serve. The data analysis focuses on where, when, under which conditions, and to what extent container terminals were automated, and who is responsible for implementing terminal automation. Only 3% of the world’s container terminals were found to be either fully or semi-automated. A survey-based analysis of global terminal operators identifies how they implement their automation and the time necessary for terminal operators to start realizing a return on their investment. The results systematically map global automated terminal characteristics. Acknowledging that not all container terminals are candidates for automation of terminal equipment, this paper contributes to extant literature by presenting a systematic review of all global automated terminals in order to substantiate or refute any perceptions that might exist on their characteristics, for example, in terms of minimum cargo volumes needed for automation. The findings can provide some guidance to market actors considering investments in automation and public and private port authority decision makers that might also commit resources to automation.
The portstudy has been published in the Maritime Economics & Logistics and can be freely downloaded here.