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Marine Terminal Innovation

I recently had the opportunity to be at Shanghai Maritime University as a Visiting Professor and work with graduate students on a few aspects of global supply chain management. I always draw great joy from interacting with inquisitive graduate students and from discussing global operations and their undergoing digital transformation.

While I had the opportunity to discuss with the students some global supply chain aspects from the American, European and Latin American perspectives, I also had the opportunity to learn more about those aspects from the Chinese side through their course research project and presentations.

I also had the opportunity to briefly visit the Shanghai port, which captures very nicely the dynamism and some of the transformations taking place in the international flow of goods in terms of innovation. An important part of the port is the Yangshan Deepwater Port in Hangzhou Bay, south of Shanghai. The various sections of the Yangshan Deepwater Port are connected to the mainland by the 32.5-kilometer-long Donghai Bridge. Containers are brought from a nearby rail-freight terminal to the port via feeder or trucks crossing the bridge. The Port of Shanghai surpassed the Port of Singapore to become the world's largest container port in 2010. It has maintained this rank since then.

Industry Digitization

Phase IV of the Shanghai Yangshan Deep Water Port is also the world’s first completely automated terminal, and as such the largest as well. Located at the south of Donghai Bridge, Phase IV covers 2.23 million square meters and has a 2,350-meter shoreline. It opened recently, in December 2017, and began trial operations in April 2018.

This automated terminal has seven berths along a quay stretching over two kilometers long as well as more than 130 driver-less vehicles. The port automated the handling of containers from the vessel to the container yard and onto the road trucks taking delivery of the containers.

Chris, my SMU seminar graduate assistant, now joining Maersk

The operational system is designed to enable port machinery to perform loading and unloading operations simultaneously. Automation allows the port to handle very large ships on limited land. Once fully operational, the new terminal will be able to move 6.3 million standard 20-foot shipping containers a year. This automated terminal not only increases the port's handling efficiency, but it is also supposed to reduce carbon emissions. The project uses automated handling equipment designed and manufactured in China. The machinery used in loading and unloading, including a bridge crane, an automated guided vehicle (AGV) and a rail-mounted gantry crane, are all made in China by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company.

The security of the network for the AGVs is also interesting. Huawei’s eLTE-U technology provides an advanced anti-interference capability and supports Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to ensure plain text-free transmission. This ensures that control signals are not maliciously hacked and provides a stable wireless connections for AGV driving control signals on the 5.8 GHz unlicensed band.

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