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#18 - Smart Ports

King Abdullah Port Pushing for Automation

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King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia (KSA) is becoming the leading automated port in the region (Courtesy of KSA)

Strategically situated on the busy Asia-Europe shipping route and in close proximity to the Suez Canal, King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia (KSA) is quickly becoming the leading automated port in the region.

 

With a robust infrastructure based on the latest port technology systems and expertly trained staff, the port is keen to support the growth of the Saudi shipping and cargo industry in a sustainable and scalable manner.

“King Abdullah Port was built to maximize the efficiency of the maritime sector in Saudi Arabia and beyond,” said Rayan Qutub, CEO of King Abdullah Port. “With the increase in fuel prices as well as the introduction of VAT this year to KSA, we need to look at every aspect whereby we can achieve savings through automation and digital technologies so that our customers can benefit.”

World’s Largest Cranes

Early this year, the port reported a 21% increase in its annual throughput compared to 2016 as a result of increased shipment activity. In 2017, there was a 28% increase in the transshipping volume and a 14% increase in the number of vessels received by the port compared to 2016. It was also rated the fastest growing port in the world in a 2015 international study conducted by Container Management magazine.

“We need to look at every aspect whereby we can achieve savings through automation and digital technologies.”

In another research study conducted in 2016 by two leading maritime and port information databases, Alphaliner and Lloyds, it was listed as one of the 100 largest container ports in the world.

This success is a result of embracing cutting-edge technology such as the Port Community System and the soon-to-be Smart Gate System, in addition to working seamlessly with other government bodies. With its access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, King Abdullah Port also boasts the world’s largest cranes, 30 deep water berths for next-generation vessels and multipurpose terminals for bulk cargo.

The Port Community System

Called PCS for short, this is a centralized management system that is similar to a digital storage vault. Information related to the crew, dangerous goods and berthing events as well as historical vessel calls can now be accessed easily by the port’s staff through the system. The PCS also has a mobile-enabled integration that helps give users the latest updates on the container and consignment process.

The KSA port is pushing for automation (Courtesy of KSA)

Intensive training programs equip the staff in the professional handling of cargo using the latest technology. PCS has also reduced the need to record data manually. Data can now also be delivered in a timely manner to staff and be reused as necessary.

The Smart Gate System

The Smart Gate System will be launched later this year and is set to improve operational efficiency within the port.  It will enhance data exchanges between the port and other governmental bodies, such as customs and the Coast Guard. This appointment-based system will control the traffic volume and increase the productivity of the terminal operator. It does away with the need for manual control by a human by automatically identifying the driver, vehicle and cargo.

The Port Community System is a centralized management system (Courtesy of KSA)

In keeping with the 24-hour customs clearance initiative, Tabadul, the IT arm of customs, has developed a system that allows efficient cargo clearance in just 24 hours. It integrates effectively with PCS so there is a seamless exchange of data between all of the parties involved in the import and export chain.

“Automation should not be an objective but an enabler.”

Customs can now safely exchange information concerning import and export data. “Automation should not be an objective in itself but an enabler,” Qutub said. “We don’t automate systems for the sake of it. In many areas, automation and technology haven’t reached a point where the system can be considered economical or sustainable.

“If the automated system doesn’t have the ability to be scalable, it becomes a hindrance to the whole operations process. That is why it is important for synergy amongst governmental bodies and organizations to take place so that we can complement each other and explore joint growth opportunities.”

 

About the Author

Jan D'Sa is a Dubai-based reporter and technical writer.

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