New automated terminal in Khalifa is inaugurated, but is it really operational?
On 10 December Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) and Abu Dhabi Terminals (ADT) celebrated the inauguration of the new CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal at Khalifa Port (CSPADT). ADT declared that the new terminal positions Abu Dhabi as “the regional hub for COSCO’s global network of 36 ports and further connecting the Emirate to the major trade hubs along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”.
When completed the terminal will have a capacity of 2.5M TEU, but on opening it had four STS cranes. The previously announced plan was for 11 STS cranes and 24 ASCs in the first phase. All the equipment is being supplied by ZPMC, and all the electrical and automation systems for the cranes supplied by its electrical subsidiary, ZPMC Electric (ZPMC EZ). The TOS was supplied by TSB of Korea (CATOS).
This was a big moment for CSP, the terminal is the “first international greenfield subsidiary of COSCO SHIPPING Ports, a subsidiary of China COSCO Shipping, the largest integrated shipping enterprise in the world,” the press release noted.
Inauguration ceremonies for other automated facilities at APM Terminals Virginia, GCT Bayonne and the two new automated terminals at Maasvlakte II in Rotterdam have focused on the technology, featuring yard cranes performing elaborately choreographed moves and, in Rotterdam, AGVs in action. At the same time most of the audience know that these shows are just a display, and getting a new automated terminal up to speed is a difficult process that takes time.
By contrast the inauguration ceremony at Khalifa was more of a political event. Negotiating the concession agreement between ADT and China COSCO Shipping featured diplomatic exchanges at the highest level, and the inauguration ceremony itself was attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, and Ning Jizhe, Deputy Director of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
On the operational side, however, the images and videos from the event do not show an automated facility flexing its muscles. In fact in terms of putting a semi-automated terminal through its paces very little seemed to happen. The video below followed a container from Shanghai to the terminal, but there are no pictures of images of the yard automation system in action. When it can be glimpsed the container yard seems almost empty, and the operational images and video circulated by ADT in the days before the event are all of CSPADT’s neighbour, Khalifa Port Container Terminal, which has an automation system from a different group of vendors. The overall impression is the CSPADT is not yet ready for business.