Home Technology The Pros and Cons of Implementing Port Automation

The Pros and Cons of Implementing Port Automation

Common Misconceptions about Test Automation

Even though the technological revolution has swept through virtually all industries, ports globally have been slow to embrace cutting-edge digital technology compared to other players in the supply chain. Most container ports, including large ones, still rely on manual operating processes to manage mammoth container operations that present several steep challenges. There is no doubt the current competitive environment will require ports to gear up with relevant digital technologies, especially IIoT to improve productivity and reduce operational costs. An appreciation of the tops pros and cons of port automation:

Why Port Managements Should Embrace Automation 

The increasing volume of cargo and high customer expectations regarding efficiency and costs are the prime reasons for port management to consider automating their operations. According to experts, increased efficiency is among the most significant benefits of implementing digital technology in ports. Potential productivity gains of port automation range from 10% to 35%. According to Port Technology, automation helps port operations to be more agile while increasing safety.

With the help of digital technology, ports can make more accurate predictions and forecasts by monitoring the arrivals and departures of container vessels more accurately. They will also find it easier to schedule equipment maintenance, and ensure optimal availability and performance. Port management can employ IIoT devices for the optimal allocation of personnel and equipment.

By employing machine learning and artificial intelligence, the management of ports can make their plans and forecasts more accurate than ever before.

While the initial start-up cost of automated operating systems for ports is high, it is also very cost-effective. Port management can start seeing the benefits immediately; however, they will reap the maximum benefits in the long run with operational expenses falling by 25-55 percent. The reasons for the cost reduction are several, but with the right automation system in place, port management can predict, monitor, and measure network performance more accurately and reduce human failures.

Even though the scale and landscape of modern ports are massive, the physical environment is predictable and structured. It provides a good platform for port management to introduce innovative IIoT technologies that can feed on the huge amounts of data generated to increase operational efficiency and significantly reduce costs.

Drawbacks of Port Automation 

The dynamic environment of ports can often make data alignment difficult and sometimes hard to obtain. There may be situations preventing the automation system from collecting and exchanging data efficiently. It may be hard for ports to contain the problems at individual process steps, making close collaboration between different activities necessary. Due to the complex nature and scale of port operations, it can be hard to ensure adequate data security in a highly mobile network.

Another factor that deters ports from automating operations is the relatively high initial cost that may not be affordable by many ports, especially in developing nations. Port management will also have to keep investing in system modernization and stay on top of potential security breaches. Acquiring the necessary skills for operating a highly automated port operation can also prove difficult and costly.


Digital technologies have opened up new vistas in port management, and it is proven beyond doubt that automation can transform ports into highly-efficient and productive units.