|04 June, 2016

Sohar Port moves into new era of automation

The new facility allows the remote operation of recently installed quayside cranes.

04 June 2016
Muscat - Oman International Container Terminal (OICT) at Sohar Port is moving into a new era of automation with the official completion of its Terminal C and other facilities. On Friday, during the visit of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, and Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Chairman of the Board of Sohar Port and Freezone and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning, the port also witnessed the opening of the new Operations Control Centre (OCC), and the inauguration of a state-of-the-art Remote Control Crane Centre. The new facility allows the remote operation of recently installed quayside cranes that have sufficient reach to load and unload 20,000 TEU ships.

As a taste of things to come, Friday also saw the first visit of a 13,000-TEU vessel to Sohar Port, the MV MSC Altair at 366 metres the largest container vessel ever to visit the Omani logistics hub. Albert Pang, Chief Executive Officer of OICT, said: "I am proud to say that our investments in Sohar have helped to create the world-class facility we can see working at peak efficiency today. OICT is handling more frequent direct calls from mega-vessels at Terminal C, which can handle the latest class of 20,000 TEU container ships. The construction of Terminal D will increase our annual handling capacity fourfold, to six million TEU, and construction may start as early as late 2018 or early 2019."

The container throughput has more than doubled in just 18 months. In addition to faster turnaround times facilitated through automated loading and unloading systems, OICT now boasts an online truck appointment system. The new communications software schedules container truck arrival times at the terminal through direct contact with the truck operators and drivers, reducing waiting times and minimising environmental impact by avoiding unnecessary fuel wastage. In addition to the new quayside cranes, OICT has invested heavily in new rubber-tyre gantry cranes (RTGCs) to further increase efficiency in the stack yards. The old container Terminal B is now being fully reconstructed as Sohar Food Zone, a dedicated agro berth with planned facilities for rice, grain and sugar processing.

Planning work is also progressing on Terminal D, a massive new container terminal in Sohar that will boast a 1.2-kilometre long jetty once commissioned. Sohar now handles over one million tonnes of cargo a week and more than 2,500 ships a year. Welcoming the MV MSC Altair to the Port, Sohar CEO, Andre Toet, said: "It's hard to imagine that we only saw our first ship here in Sohar a little over ten years ago. The growth in size and efficiency at OICT is phenomenal and we are proud to be able to partner with companies like Hutchison Port Holdings to operate our terminals. As we look around this amazing facility today, I am proud to be able to say to all our distinguished guests: 'Welcome to the new Gateway to the Gulf.'"

© Oman Daily Observer 2016

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