Royal Flush

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands opened Maasvlakte II Rotterdam’s newest container port this week. What is remarkable about this box shipping development to a dry bulk sector is the interconnectedness of the systems thinking from the APM Terminal, the port owner and developer, management, the speed at which the project has been executed and the multi-dimensional benefits it’s delivering.

Maasvlakte II is 100% renewably powered, all its electricity needs are derived from wind turbines which provide quieter logistics solutions than diesel powered handling solutions whilst wind powered electricity produces neither CO2 nor other emissions. Furthermore, depending on the contractually arrangements APM have been able to secure they will benefit over the long term from energy price predictability as wind power is exempt from any market price volatility!

The terminal was built on reclaimed land from the North Sea, a significant and ambitious undertaking in itself, and it is designed as a multi-modal hub using barge and rail connections to inland destinations to avoid congestion and emissions from any increased road traffic that may have resulted from increased freight turnover.

Speaking at the opening Kim Fejfer, CEO APM Terminals, claimed the terminal was “significantly safer” - although it’s currently not clear how this is measured. It appears that new standards for safety for both workers at the port and customers have been set.

Construction began in 2012 and the first vessel call was December 2014 - a quite astonishing feat given the scale of the project ambition.

The ace card, however, is the increased 40% productivity achieved through the fleet of 54 fully automated, remote controlled electric cranes which facilitate faster, quieter and cleaner freight handling. This system has been modelled and simulated in a ‘virtual world’ allowing systems to be optimised and people to be trained in efficient use of new technology using modern technology. All of which clearly benefits port users by speeding up the project development and reducing turnaround times in port.

This is 21st century systems-thinking - and doing - exemplified. It is something all sectors of shipping, and beyond, can emulate. Moving to the future is not only possible; we have all the resources available to do so. What’s required is bold and determined vision to bring a multiplicity of ideas together to create something better. Worthy of a King.