Joost Achterkamp

Founder and CEO

Solid Port Solutions


Session: The automated empty container depot: a world first for Rotterdam


Can you provide an overview of your conference session, and why is this an important topic to discuss?

Container terminal automation is reaching a mature stage of development and most new projects incorporate some elements of automation. One of the new areas for process optimization that until now has been mainly ignored is the handling and storage of empty containers. Whilst the optimization of empty container flows has received widespread attention, the cost to shipping lines for depots to process and handle empty containers is hidden within the total of container repositioning. The crucial role in the process of preparing an empty for delivery to the next client or for repositioning to another location is the ‘Empty Container Depot’.

Traditionally depots have consisted of minimal civil infrastructure and have relied on ‘Empty Container Handlers (ECHs)’ with basic inventory systems and have been limited to the extent to which they can optimize their processes. Typically, empty container depot operations are performed in an ad hoc manner and achieve low levels of efficiency.

Recognizing the mature state of container equipment automation, the Kramer Group sought to assess how to implement automated handling processes within empty container depots. In 2017, the Kramer Group assisted by Solid Port Solutions started to develop plans for the first fully automated empty depot, this resulted in the New Generation Robotized Empty Depot (NG-RED™).

It is a revolutionary new concept that will professionalise the empty container handling at empty depots..

From IoT and big data to remote monitoring and tracking, name the top technologies that you predict will have a long lasting impact on the sector and tell us why this is so.

IoT and big data, including remote monitoring and tracking, are becoming a hype in our industry. However, do we know how to use the available data in a way that will improve the efficiency of the supply chain and lower the transportation cost? Not necessarily. I believe that the industry will need tools that will assist the carriers, terminals, and other players in the transport sector in order to transform the enormous quantity of data in practical scheduling instructions and real-time information to improve the efficiency and create on time deliveries.     

Why do you think events such as Intermodal Europe are important for the industry?

Events like Intermodal Europe are important to share new technologies and learn about what is happening in our industry. But also, of course, it is a great opportunity for networking.