Factors Influencing Port Terminal Automation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Case Study of Durban

Factors Influencing Port Terminal Automation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Case Study of Durban

Indira Padayachee (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and John Mukomana (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7638-9.ch010
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Port terminals play an integral role in the transportation logistics chain by providing cargo handling, storage, and warehousing services to a range of shipping lines, freight forwarders, and cargo owners. This chapter reports on a case study aimed at determining the challenges and limitations experienced with the current information and communication technology used in port terminals in Durban and examines how technological, organizational, and environmental factors influence port automation. A quantitative approach was adopted, and a questionnaire was designed to collect data. The findings revealed that adequate technology needs to be acquired, and the compatibility and complexity of the technology have the biggest influence on the automation of terminal ports in Durban. Communication with stakeholders and IT skills retention were found to be the most important organizational factors and customer readiness emerged as an important environmental factor influencing the automation of port terminals in Durban.
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A port terminal is a place on the edge of the earth called a coastline with seafronts deep enough for ships to dock, so that goods and people can enter into ships for transportation through the sea (Verhoeven, 2010). Port terminals have been used from many centuries back as the points of entry, mainly for goods meant for trading purposes from one continent to another (Roso, Woxenius & Lumsden, 2009). Port terminals play an integral role in the transportation logistics chain by providing cargo handling, storage and warehousing services to a wide range of shipping lines, freight forwarders and cargo owners (Pettit & Beresford, 2009). Port terminal operations are divided into four major business segments, namely containers, bulk, break-bulk (multi-purpose) and automotive as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Types of port terminals

(overendstudio, n.d.)

The operations of a port is a large process in which the final element is not a tangible product but rather a specified service (Homayouni & Tang, 2015). The service referred to is the handling and storage of the containerized merchandise for customers through the reception terminals (import and export) or transhipment terminals, where merchandises are transferred from one vessel to another. This service needs to be performed on the date agreed with the customer, and in accordance with the conditions that the seller, exporter and loader has contracted with the customer (Yu & Qi, 2013). The basic objective is to carry out the operations as rapidly as possible, to enable the vessel to spend the minimum time necessary in port and, consequently, to obtain maximum economic utilization, reduce energy consumption and improve environmental efficiency.

The environment in which these ports operate has changed as it has become increasingly competitive. It is no longer sufficient for organisations to have only the right equipment and systems but rather it needs organisations with the ability to integrate systems and analyse the available data in order to predict future trends and plan efficient ways to accomplish these predicted activities (Felício & Caldeirinha, 2013).

Automation is the most effective way to move cargo quicker (Maturana, 2004) as it will reduce delays and sluggish times. The automation of port terminals can make them efficient in running their operations (Zehendner & Feillet, 2014) by enabling implementation and utilisation of business intelligence (Lokuge & Alahakoon, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Port Terminal: It is an assembly point were freight (goods, container, and cars) are stored for processing that are to be moved to other destinations, usually from one mode of transportation to another.

Market Share: The percentage of total sales of an industry in the market owned by a specific organisation compared to its competitors.

Smart Port Terminal: Uses the latest advances in information and communication technology to facilitate the movement of freight faster, using low cost mechanisms, and assures the safety of employees and citizens living around port terminals.

Digitization of Ports: Seaports that invest in digitization and innovation to revolutionize shipping and transport logistics.

Port Terminal Technology: Includes partially automated cranes, automated guided vehicles, and automated yard planning.

Efficiency in Seaports: Efficiency in seaports considers measures such as the duration of a ship’s stopover in a port, as well as quality processes relating to cargo handling and service to inland transport providers.

Internet of Things (IoT): It is a network of items including sensors and embedded systems, which are connected to the internet and enable physical objects to gather and exchange data.

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