Findings of a new customer survey from Navis have shown that the global terminal operators are increasingly shifting towards automation to remain competitive in the ocean shipping industry.

The TechValidate survey titled ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Automation’ has revealed that 74% of the respondents clearly believe that automation in some form such as full, equipment or process automation will be critical to stay competitive in the next three to five years.

It has also revealed that 20% of participants are already fully automated and 13% are investigating this option.

The survey’s 37% respondents have automated their processes and 40% are investigating this option, while 21% have already automated their equipment and 24% are investigating this option.

Among other findings, the survey found that 68% of the participants believe that the costs of automation are too high, 52% said that there is a lack of skills or resources to implement and manage automation, while 44% believe that automation faces challenges with labour unions.

“Automated terminals are capable of providing consistent performance round the clock and reduce the chances of interruption due to job actions.”

More than 75 Navis customers at various stages of automation took part in the survey.

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Navis CTO Raj Gupta said: “Within the next 20 years, I believe it’s not only possible, but likely, that we’ll see a fully autonomous transport chain.

“This could extend from loading and stowage of the container, autonomous sailing to its destination, unloading by automated cranes, and then finally being loaded on to autonomous trucks and trains for the final destination.

“However, while the potential is there, there are still several barriers that need to be overcome in order to make automation a realistic option for even the smallest terminal operators and Navis is committed to developing the technology to make turn automation into a reality for all.”

According to Navis, automated terminals are capable of providing consistent performance round the clock and reduce the chances of interruption due to job actions.