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DP World unveils new yard system

DP World has formed a joint venture company to build a new intelligent container storage system at Terminal 4 in Jebel Ali.

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DP World unveils new yard system

DP World has announced it has formed a new joint venture with industrial engineering specialists SMS group to build a high bay racking system with individual container selectivity at Jebel Ali Terminal 4, in time for the Dubai Expo 2020 world fair.

“The High Bay Storage system was originally developed by SMS group subsidiary AMOVA for round the clock handling of metal coils that weigh as much as 50 tons each in racks as high as 50 metres. AMOVA is the first company to transfer this proven technology to the port industry,” the announcement read.

AMOVA GmbH is based in Germany, and focuses on systems for storing and sorting industrial products. Its Vice President Container Handling systems is Dr. Mathias Dobner, who is well known in the industry, with years of experience in automation at Gottwald Port Technology and Terex.

AMOVA’s concept for container handling includes a high density racking system where any container can be accessed without having to move another. “Instead of stacking containers directly on top of each other, which has been global standard practice for decades, the system places each container in an individual rack compartment. Containers are stored in an eleven-story rack, creating 200% more capacity than a conventional container terminal, or creating the same capacity in less than a third of the space.

“Thanks to the rack’s design each container can be accessed without having to move another one, enabling 100% utilization in a terminal yard. The system brings big gains in speed, energy efficiency, better safety and a major reduction in costs. Costs are further cut by the ability to shorten the time taken to load and unload mega-ships by as much as 30%.”

The Dubai application might be a first for this particular system, but it is not the first container racking system with individual container selectivity ever built. The concept for a racking system with individual container cells goes back to the 1990s (and possibly earlier), when Earl’s Industries in Vancouver introduced its “Computainer System”. Other ideas were launched around the same time, but none ever got off the ground.

The NYK Container Hangar in Japan
The NYK Container Hangar in Japan

That changed in 2008 when NYK announced its intention to build an “innovative, state-of-the-art container hangar, the first of its kind” at berth 6 at Tokyo’s Oi Container Terminal. This came to be called the “Container Hangar” and is also an automated storage racking system with individual container selectivity. The steel frame measures 150m long, 56m wide and 31m high and has a total capacity of 420 TEU on its 8,400 square metre footprint.

The system was built and commissioned by Japan’s JFE Engineering in 2011 (pictured). It features two stacker cranes for loading and unloading containers, each of which has a dolly on which the container is ‘slid’ into its slot , lowered into place and then the dolly is retracted. A separate transfer crane feeds the stacker crane.


While the concept is similar, no doubt the new system in Dubai will have several different design features. “DP World’s experience and expertise in moving cargo coupled with the technology of AMOVA will ensure the system is remarkably efficient and relevant for present and future operations,” said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO. “As a world first in our industry we are tremendously excited by its potential and groundbreaking features. Our engagement in new technologies is a major priority and we have become known for seeking ways that transform the way goods are moved across the world. Innovation is part of our DNA and at the heart of our success.”

Burkhard Dahmen, CEO of SMS Group, said: “Our subsidiary AMOVA has optimized this technology in industrial applications for the metals industry over several decades. The application for container terminals is a direct result of our “New Horizon” strategy, in which SMS transfers technology from the metallurgical sector to other industries.”

Dr. Mathias Dobner, CEO of the joint venture, added: “This new container handling technology allows cities to use their expensive and sensitive land and waterfront areas more effectively. Our system will significantly increase the productivity of handling ships on the quay. This means that quay walls can be shortened by a third. This disruptive innovation will greatly improve the financial performance of container ports, and well as their overall appearance.”

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