Singapore has remained steadfast in its position as the Leading Maritime Capital of the World (according to the Leading Maritime Capitals Report 2017). It has sailed through various obstacles like slowing growth, rapid technological changes and a tight labour market.
According to Maritime Singapore Connect, “despite challenging economic conditions in both traditional shipping and the offshore oil and gas markets, the city-state boasts a remarkably successful maritime industry, achieving a top-5 position in shipping, finance and law, maritime technology, ports and logistics as well as overall attractiveness and competitiveness. This is largely due to an increased focus on R&D developments within the industry over the past few years.”
Singapore has shown its commitment to the maritime sector by investing in port megastructure and planning the Tuas mega port.
The Tuas mega port is a major milestone in Singapore’s next generation container terminal development with the long-term project, that includes four phases, targeted for completion in 2040. With construction of Phase 1 beginning in April last year, the mega port is slated to open progressively from 2021.
To be a cut above the rest and create a truly leading global maritime hub, port development is the need of the hour.
The Tuas Terminal will bring with it major infrastructural changes and innovative designs. All city terminals at Tanjong Pagar, Pasir Panjang, Keppel and Brani, will eventually be merged at Tuas. This consolidation of container port activities will not only result in increased efficiency in port operations due to the elimination of inter-terminals haulage, but also comes at the right time with the expiration of port leases at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel and Brani in 2027.
Another key feature of the new port is the caissons. These large watertight chambers keep the water out by air pressure, allowing construction work to be carried out with ease. Using caissons to build the wharf structure is faster than traditional methods such as piling due to the shallow sea bed. A total of 222 caissons will form the permanent wharf structure of the work-in-progress mega-terminal, with 30 caissons already built as part of Phase 1 development.
With technological advances transforming most industries, the maritime industry is shifting towards a digital future as well. Plans to incorporate more automation, intelligent control systems, and sustainable technologies into the new terminal shows how maritime players are harnessing new technologies to become more efficient and effective.
Some key innovations will include unmanned vehicles such as automated yard cranes, drones, data analytics and driverless trucks for port transport, which will be used at the upcoming mega terminal. Additionally, port waters will also be managed using next generation port operations systems.
To create greater efficiencies in overall port operations, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is looking at developing facilities such as warehouse and distribution centres at the mega port; currently these are fragmented amongst different terminals in Singapore.
The maritime sector contributes around 7 percent to Singapore’s overall GDP growth, and currently employs over 170,000 workers. This number is expected to increase to a large extent by 2025.