Container handling: Fully automated and digital

The Port of Singapore relies on automation and digitalization to achieve peak values in productivity, safety, and efficiency. At PSA International’s Pasir Panjang Terminal, one of the world’s busiest transshipment hubs, 56 stacking cranes are handling containers without human intervention.

The container port is a hive of activity: An ever-increasing number of cranes are loading and unloading larger and larger ships. Cranes dimensions have to keep up, which is why the yard is fully automated and digitalized to be capable of handling huge amounts of peak cargo loads. The highest productivity per berth, reduced costs per move, and smooth operations ensure the competitiveness of the Port of Singapore.

In Singapore, the container port operated by PSA International is a pioneer. In operation since early 2018, Pasir Panjang Terminal will have an impressive total container handling capacity of around 30 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) per year once all expansion phases have been completed.

Robust crane system in demand

Fifty-six fully automated stacking cranes with Simocrane automation are a part of the terminal’s automation and digitalization concept. Working with crane manufacturer ZPMC from Shanghai, Siemens has engineered and commissioned the electrical and automation systems.


Cranes are powerful without compromising safety. “In a non-ideal world of container terminal operations, there are many small deviations to given standards,” explains Christian Koegl, Senior Vice President Crane Segment at Siemens. “That’s why an automated crane system needs to be safe and robust, deliver consistent performance, and also have the flexibility to adapt to deviations.” 

Costs play an important role: “With Siemens’ automation on the cranes, operations are safe, reliable, and flexible,” says Koegl. “Plus, customers also achieve the lowest cost per move throughout the entire lifecycle of the crane.”

The cranes have the flexibility to adapt to deviations, because there will always be deviations in a container terminal.
Christian Koegl, Senior Vice President Crane Segment at Siemens

Significant increase in productivity

The new crane systems offer a number of other benefits in productivity, safety, and cost per move. The yard cranes automatically move more than 30 containers per hour. The human intervention rate is less than 5 percent.


“Fully automated cranes enable operations to run at the maximum possible speed in a safe environment – 24 hours a day, every day,” says Koegl. “Only one crane operator is required to be in charge of several cranes and the person only has to intervene in the case of exceptional situations.”

Clever data use

“At Siemens, we monitor thousands of data points on each crane and convert this big data into smart data,” says Koegl. “The data can be used for predictive maintenance or to simulate the cranes to make them safer, more flexible, and more efficient,” he explains. In addition, transmission speeds and lifecycles can be optimized and extended to the physical limits of the equipment. This approach maximizes throughput and crane availability, and minimizes lifecycle costs.

Smart data make cranes safer, more flexible, and more efficient.
Christian Koegl, Senior Vice President Crane Segment at Siemens

Cranes for ports and industry

Thanks to its scalability, the Simocrane platform used by PSA supports the customer in implementing large, complex cranes with high automation requirements, as well as cranes with up to several thousand kWs, also with sophisticated automation requirements.


Basic crane types with less sophisticated automation requirements are supported with Simocrane drive-based technology. Here, all basic automation functions are integrated into the drive itself, so no separate controller is needed.

The modularity and scalability of the system mean that support is provided for all crane types. All shapes – such as portal cranes, EOT cranes, and offshore cranes – and all applications – like bulk handling, coil handling, ladle, tambour, and goliath – are supported. The Simocrane platform is used offshore, in ports, and in a whole range of industries, among them steel, paper, shipbuilding, and power.

April 2019

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