“Although ports have adopted automation more slowly than comparable sectors, notably mining and warehousing, the pace is now starting to accelerate. Automated ports are safer than conventional ones. The number of human-related disruptions falls, and performance becomes more predictable. Yet the up-front capital expenditures are quite high, and the operational challenges—a shortage of capabilities, poor data, siloed operations, and difficulty handling exceptions—are very significant. A McKinsey survey indicates that while operating expenses decline, so does productivity, and the returns on invested capital are currently lower than the industry norm.
Nonetheless, successful automated ports show that careful planning and management can surmount these difficulties: operating expenses could fall by 25 to 55 percent and productivity could rise by 10 to 35 percent. And in the long run, these investments will lead the way toward a new paradigm—call it Port 4.0—the shift from asset operator to service orchestrator, part of a larger transition to Industry 4.0, or digitally enabled efficiency gains throughout the world economy. Port 4.0 will generate more value for port operators, suppliers, and customers alike, but that value isn’t proportionally distributed across ports and their ecosystems. Innovative business models and forms of collaboration will be required to realize this vision.”
The Future of automated ports, Mckinsey 2018.