First automated terminal goes into service at Nansha Port

A fully automated terminal, the first of its kind built in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, began operations at Nansha port in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. This is part of the fourth phase of the modernization of Nansha port, combining multimodal services related to sea, river and railway transportation in the area, according to the Guangzhou Port Group. Operation of the terminal will promote comprehensive cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, the company said. Development of a joint shipping and logistics trade center and construction of a world-class port cluster in the Greater Bay Area has become part of that plan, which was issued in June by the Chinese government.

The first fully automated container terminal built by domestic scientific and technological enterprises and institutions includes four 100,000 metric-ton berths and their supporting container barge berths. Construction of the new terminal began in late 2018, having integrated advanced technologies such as Beidou navigation, 5G communications, artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles. The terminal is using automated equipment and information systems. More than 60 patents, including 31 classified as invention patents, were filed. After starting operations, the new terminal will be integrated with Nansha port’s other terminals to form a specialized and large-scale terminal cluster, helping to greatly improve the port’s handling capacity. The new terminal has a designed annual throughput of 4.9 million TEU. The annual container throughput of Nansha port is expected to exceed 24 million TEU.

The terminal has also become a green environmental protection demonstration project in the port industry, as it achieves zero emissions, using technologies such as new generation of Internet of Things (IoT) sensing, big data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies, said Lionel Ni, President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “It will provide exemplary solutions for the upgrading of automation and the transformation of traditional terminals in the world,” Ni said. The university has teamed up with the port company and other domestic research and equipment enterprises to incorporate new technologies into construction of the smart terminal, which includes driverless intelligent guided vehicles and a low-speed automatic rail crane, said Ni, as reported by the China Daily.