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Terminal automation won't be restricted to high wage economies: ICTSI

Terminal automation won't be restricted to high wage economies: ICTSI
Automated terminal operations will become the norm even in countries that do not face high labour costs, according to Christian R. Gonzalez, International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) head for Asia – Pacific.

ICTSI is currently developing a highly automated terminal in Melbourne, Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) that will feature remote-controlled quay cranes and automated straddle carriers.

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News Gonzalez said, “The whole idea you only automate in places you have high labour costs – I see that as a thing of the past in the next 5 – 10 years.”

Taking a developing country such as the Philippines, where ICTSI is based, the younger generation, which is well educated and exposed to the wider world through internet will not want to be dockers or stevedores. Instead he sees young people in the Philippines choosing to enter the rapidly growing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, which already employs 1m people in the country.

“Despite the high population growth some of these jobs will be automated. I’m not saying a fully automated terminal but put in auto-lashing platforms, maybe remote control on the quay cranes,” he explained.

Increased concern over health and safety at work is another factor that could drive automation in sectors such as ports. “In the next 5 -10 years you’re going to see governments pushing us to take people off the shop floor and get them into nice, comfortable, safe offices.”

Meanwhile Gonzalez said development was progressing well on the civil works for the VICT terminal in Melbourne. As result port equipment will be delivered ahead of schedule allowing more time for testing. ICTSI is committed to having phase 1 operational by the start of 2017.