ASIA's first fully-automated container terminal has started operations in China with the opening of Phase 4 of the 5.2 million TEU capacity Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal (QQCTN).

QQCTN features 660 metres of quay with seven remotely-controlled ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, 38 automated stacking cranes (ASCs) and 38 battery-powered automated guided vehicles (AGVs). The facility can operate after dark, equipped with laser scanners and positioning systems able to locate the four corners of each container, grab and load them onto driverless trucks.

The routes and tasks of these electric-powered smart trucks are controlled digitally, and they have the intelligence to be able to determine when they need to be recharged.

This technology has the potential of reduce labour costs by up to 70 per cent and increase efficiency by 30 per cent. While it used to take 60 workers to unload a single cargo ship, the automated facility requires only nine works to complete the same job.