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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2021 TOPIC AREA: Ports, aviation, international trade Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: MetroFreight

Container Terminal Automation: A global analysis and survey on decision-making drivers, benefits realized, and stakeholder support

Project Summary

Project number: MF-2.2e
Funding source: Volvo Research and Education Foundation (VREF)
Funding amount: $60,000
Performance period: 1/1/2021 to 12/31/2021

Project description

In the past decade, container terminal automation has become a key theme in terminal development and operations. The progressive introduction of semi- and fully-automated terminal systems is driven, among other reasons, by the need for operations standardization, reduction in manning and increase in productivity. Yet, only certain terminals are going to fit the profile where unmanned automated equipment brings added value. The drive towards automation is only partially explained by a cost/benefit perspective. This is a capital intensive and complex process that takes place at different scales, paces, and locations. The determination of the factors that drive the decision to automate are multi-faceted and vary by terminal operator and locality.

A survey of automated terminals around the globe will be undertaken to determine the combination of factors likely to influence or challenge the decision-making process to automate. The economic and financial implications will be examined from a variety of perspectives: the terminal operator, labor, port administration and shipping line. Case studies will be undertaken to ensure capture of all dimensions in the decision-making process. Lessons learned from the recently developed automated terminals can be considered by policy makers in addressing diverse stakeholder interests.


Geraldine Knatz
Professor of the Practice of Policy and Engineering, Sol Price School of Public Policy
3620 S. Vermont Ave.
KAP 213Los Angeles, CA 90089-2531
United States
[email protected]