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Conventional wisdom in the port industry over the past decade has held that automated box terminals are more efficient and, over the course of a terminal’s life, cheaper to run than those operated manually. However, that view is challenged by recent Moody’s research, reports Maritime Executive. It observes that not only does automated handling technology require a huge initial capital investment, but that many of the side effects – such as incapacitating industrial action by dockers – remain outside those calculations, while the productivity improvements of automated terminals may have been overhyped. “Many analyses that compare productivity metrics between automated and conventional terminals indicate inconsistent and, in a number of cases, negative productivity gains from automation. A recent McKinsey & Co analysis of port automation found that realised productivity gains and operating cost savings did not match expectations.”

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