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Singapore: the port of the future

Singapore is the second container port in the world after Shanghai and has just inaugurated the first phase of its New Generation Port (NGP), "Tuas port" which might become the largest in the world by 2040 and the first fully-automated one.

Tuas Port aims at becoming the most advanced port on the planet, way beyond its competitors, by combining AI, drones, autonomous vehicles, futuristic control centers and the development of massive new piers (a total berth length of 26 kilometers). It will be designed to be smart, sustainable and green.

Strategically situated in the Strait of Malacca, Singapore's prosperity has always been rooted in its port, which represents 7% of its GDP. Moving forward, that will still be the case, and probably even more so. Singapore is benefiting from an influx of skills, resources, and capital since its archrival Hong Kong has become much less attractive to international businesses and to the overseas Chinese diaspora.

This means that Singapore, while still very closely linked to China - its first client and supplier - has more freedom than its nemesis Hong-Kong to develop a vision for the future that will require agility, bold innovations, and a lot of creativity, at a time when the Chinese communist party is regaining control over Chinese big tech and putting some limits to their ventures.

During the inauguration of the first phase in September 2022, the Prime Minister of Singapore emphasized the fact that: "our decision to press on with it despite the pandemic, sends a strong signal to the world that Singapore is open for business & going full steam ahead. It's a project every Singaporean can be proud of". A way to differentiate itself from Hong-Kong.

Eventually, Tuas Port will be the only terminal in Singapore and the other ports will be converted into residential areas, as shown below:

Here are the main characteristics of this futuristic port, which will take another 20 years - and 20 billion dollars - to be completed:

  • the next-generation vessel traffic management system (VTMS) will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to predict and prevent potential collisions,

  • yard cranes and container mover vehicles will be automated and run on electricity,

  • futuristic control center to supervise the cranes and port operations,

  • drones used to watch and control activities,

  • port buildings will be designed to be green and energy efficient,

  • the port will have smart grid solutions and battery energy storage systems to optimize energy use,

  • corals will be relocated so that they survive the port construction,

  • the port will be resilient against rising sea levels up to Year 2100,

  • Tuas aims at achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

You can find out more in this video from MPA Singapore, the port authority of Singapore:

(Credit: MPA)

For a more concrete view of the current state of technologies at Singapore Port, this very interesting video from The Strait Times explains the technology already in use in the current port - such as the autonomous vehicles and the maritime traffic control system, as well as the prospects of the new Tuas Port:

(Credit: The Strait Times).

For a complete description of the project, you can also check out this document:

IAPH-Award-Submission_v6_v31 Singapore Tuas Port
Download PDF • 19.30MB

And finally, you can have a look at the current ranking of container ports in the world, to better measure what Singapore's ambitions are to become the world's leader:

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