Shanghai currently ranks sixth among the world’s top shipping centers, putting it on a par with New York, London and Dubai. Phase four of the Yangshan Port is expected to help the city move higher on the list with enhanced efficiency. Yang Chengxi reports.
YANG CHENGXI SHANGHAI “In 2017, over 40 million containers passed through Shanghai. The Yangshan port on the city’s eastern shoreline hopes to become a global shipping center by 2020.”
And that is a huge undertaking. The Shanghai Dredging Company is working on the fourth and latest phase of the Yangshan port.
ZHU LIN, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER CCCC-SHANGHAI DREDGING COMPANY “The dredging project for the fourth phase started in 2016 and was finished last year. We cleared 24 million cubic meters of soil so that the waterway is now 15 to 17 meters deep, which is enough for container ships of 150 thousand tons to pass through.”
Not only deeper but also bigger. The lands where the Yangshan port is built are man-made. Since 2002, the company has overseen one of the biggest land reclamation projects in the world.
ZHU LIN, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER CCCC-SHANGHAI DREDGING COMPANY “Reclamation for the first phase was most difficult. Materials such as food and gas were hard to transport. Over the years we have used about 100 million cubic meters of soil to create the first three phases of Yangshan port. This is a world class project both in terms of scale and difficulty.”
In the past, people operated most of the port machineries. This is Zhang Yan. For the past decade, he has worked cranes as high as 40 meters above ground at Yangshan. His team’s efficiency in unloading containers broke the world record seven times in four years. However, due to the progression of unmanned machinery, his accomplishments have become wonders of the past. Huang Hua controls his crane from a command center 1 kilometer away.
HUANG HUA CRANE OPERATOR “At a conventional port, I would work with a hand shank all day, repeating the same motion 12 hours a day, four days a week. I used to have lots of neck problems. Now the task is much less physically challenging, but also much more complex.”
Along the 2.3 thousand meter shoreline at phase four of Yangshan port, human staff is now rarely seen, but handling efficiency has increased 50 percent. With the application of wireless machines, there comes a new set of challenges, says port equipment provider ZPMC.
MA JIN, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR ZPMC SMART SOLUTIONS GROUP “The biggest bottleneck for traditional ports in embracing information technology is actually internet capacity.”
The port is now using an optimized version of a 4G network. Experts say it will be among the first pilot zone for the use of 5G communication technologies to maximize efficiency.