Guangzhou plans to build the world's first automated unmanned parallel container quay for the fourth phase construction of the Nansha area of Guangzhou Port by 2021.
The fourth phase includes construction of four 100,000-metricton ship berths and 122,000-ton lighter berths. It will provide an innovative solution for handling and transport automation through automated quay cranes for container handling and automated rail-mounted gantry cranes.
Nansha will also use water-to-water transportation to replace road transportation in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment, said Chen Zhiyi, deputy general economist of Guangzhou Port Group Co Ltd.
After the construction is completed, the unmanned container transportation will be powered by lithium batteries to achieve zero emissions and make Nansha a world-standard green port.
So far, Guangzhou Port has 108 foreign trade routes and 45 domestic ones. Nansha alone has 102 foreign trading routes, mainly with economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative including those in Africa and Southeast Asia, said Chen.
In recent years, Guangzhou Port has seen a steady growth in its container throughput capacity, Chen added. In 2018, the entire container throughput reached 21.92 million twenty-foot equivalent units, up 7.6 percent year-on-year.
From January to June, the Nansha area of Guangzhou Port achieved container throughput of more than 8 million TEUs, up 6.8 percent year-on-year. In the same period, Guangzhou Port's container throughput totaled 10.16 million TEUs, up 9.7 percent year-on-year.
The area is the most important quay for containers, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total container capacity of Guangzhou Port, said Mo Zhiping, deputy general engineer of Guangzhou Port Group.
With the fourth phase completed and put into operation by 2021, the total Nansha area of Guangzhou Port will be able to handle 20 million TEUs a year.
According to a recent report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as China's economy and trade continues to grow, demand for container transportation in most Chinese ports will maintain a healthy growth, particularly in Shanghai, Zhoushan in Zhejiang province, Guangzhou, and Qingdao in Shandong province.
In May, Guangzhou Port signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Huawei to accelerate the integration of 5G and smart ports.
Li Kewu, a ports expert with Huawei Technologies, suggested that the digital transformation of ports, convenient services, and an open and collaborative business environment will be key elements for increasing ports' competitiveness.
"In terms of digitalization, Guangzhou Port already has a solid foundation. By becoming more intelligent, it has also increased investment," Li said. "As competition increases, Guangzhou Port will hopefully become a leader among intelligent ports worldwide."