Dammam Completes 500,000 Remote Controlled Container Moves
Sea Freight

Dammam Completes 500,000 Remote Controlled Container Moves

KSA is a pioneer among 15 countries in the world using such technology

TLME News Service

Hutchison Ports Dammam, which operates the first container terminal of King Abdulaziz Port has just handled its 500,000th* container move using its remote control system.

Today, there are only 15 countries in the world using such technology and Dammam is the only port today in Saudi Arabia with such technology.

Hutchison Ports group, is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator, with more than 10% of the global port trade. The Group has handled 84.7 million TEU in 2018 across 51 ports spanning 26 countries.

Today, some of the largest ships in the world call at Dammam. When they arrive, they are often carrying 3-4,000 containers for Dammam.

These containers are stacked on board a ship, and can reach up to 45m above the sea.

Traditionally, the containers were lifted off a ship by a crane hovering above the containers with a crane driver sitting in the cabin looking down onto the ship.

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This is a very skilled job, lowering a spreader to lock on to a container by wire ropes and then swinging the container over the side of the ship onto a waiting truck to be carried away.

Over the last 15 years, as ships have grown bigger and bigger, it has become necessary for the crane and therefore the crane driver to be located at greater heights above the sea.

Often these drivers are required to work at heights of 50m and more and focus on containers 50-60m beneath them.

All of this changed in Dammam 3 years ago when Hutchison Ports Dammam commissioned its first 2 Remote Controlled Gantry Cranes.

Operator Abdul Hameed remotely handling container movements at Hutchison Ports Dammam.
Operator Abdul Hameed remotely handling container movements at Hutchison Ports Dammam.

At the time, these were the first Remote Controlled Cranes commissioned by the Hutchison Ports Company, in recognition of their confidence in the future of Saudi Arabia and the skill of the local workforce to prepare for and implement cutting-edge technology.

The trials were a huge success and Hutchison Ports Dammam quickly followed up by bringing an additional 3 Remote Controlled Cranes in 2017.

News of the success spread quickly with 15 other countries following this bold move; Hutchison now operates 24% of the global Remote Controlled equipment.

All credit to the ingenuity and adaptability of the Hutchison team in Saudi Arabia for kick starting this change.

The 500,000th remote controlled move in Dammam is a major leap forward for port technology globally and the Hutchison team on the ground are confident that this will lead to continued investments in support of the technological drive that Saudi Arabia seeks from its partners and investors.

Said Ahmed Al Blawi, Chairman of Hutchison Ports Dammam: “Our team has shown that it is ready for new challenges and for the advances in technology that are necessary in our industry. I have every confidence that they will see us through the continuing advances that we have planned for our business here.”

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Adds Andy Tsoi, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports, Middle East and Africa: “Our strategy has always been to support the Port Authority and our partner Mawani in our investments in Saudi Arabia.”

“As the leading global port operator, we are in an ideal position to ensure that Mawani and Saudi Arabia benefit from the latest and best an international partner can bring.

“Our plans will ensure that the largest vessels in the world can continue to call in Dammam and that we will continue to invest in the latest technology, whether it be Remote Controlled cranes or automated port facilities, this will be the minimum standard we bring to Dammam port.

“We have already identified the need for another 10 Remote Controlled Cranes for this important port in the next 2-3 years and look forward to reaching 1 million Remote moves here before any of our other facilities in recognition of our trust and confidence in Saudi Arabia.”

With 500,000 containers already handled, Hutchison Ports appear to be well on their way to reaching the 1 millionth container in record time.

* Measured as TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent) moves

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