Port of Felixstowe, part of the Hutchison Ports’ network, and Shanghai Westwell Technology Co. Ltd (Westwell) have signed an agreement for an additional 100 battery-powered autonomous Q-Trucks. The order follows a tender exercise and a thorough testing and evaluation process. 

Hutchison Ports first introduced Westwell’s Q-Trucks at Terminal D in Thailand’s Laem Chabang Port in 2020.  Fifteen Q-Trucks run in mixed mode operation with no separation from other traffic and have handled over 334,000 TEU (Twenty-feet Equivalent Unit) moves since their introduction.

Commenting on the agreement, Clemence Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Felixstowe and Executive Director of Hutchison Ports, said:

“We are really excited to be working in partnership with Westwell to bring their ground-breaking and AI-driven technology to the Port of Felixstowe. Following the positive introduction of autonomous trucks at our terminal in Thailand and after thorough and successful testing in Felixstowe, we are rolling the system out in the U.K. The new trucks will increase the efficiency and operational consistency of our container handling as well as making a significant contribution to decarbonising operations at the port.”

Kenny Tan, Chairman of Westwell said:

“Hutchison Ports is a significant global partner for Westwell. As a world leading company in intelligent mass-logistics, Westwell, with its holistic solution in new energy autonomous driving, can help increase efficiency while reducing costs and delivering sustainable development options. The contract also marks a very important development of Westwell’s Ainergy Strategy to utilise AI applications to reduce energy consumption and facilitate decarbonisation. In this respect we will continue to explore opportunities to commercialise new developments with Hutchison Ports to equip global logistics for sustainable development.”

Delivery of the first autonomous trucks will commence in September 2023.

The new equipment is an essential element of the port’s decarbonisation strategy. Hutchison Ports has announced that its UK ports will achieve Scope 1 and Scope 2 net-zero by 2035 as part of the group’s global target established in line with the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) net-zero standard. In addition to the autonomous trucks, the port is investing in battery-powered conventional tractor units, replacing and re-engineering its yard cranes and purchasing electricity only from certified renewable sources.

The Port of Felixstowe is part of Freeport East, one of twelve Freeports being established in the UK.  A key element of the Freeport East strategy is to boost innovation and investment. Following the signing ceremony for the autonomous trucks, Clemence Cheng and Kenny Tan held further discussions about bringing Westwell’s technology and expertise to the UK through the establishment of a new facility for Westwell within Freeport East.

Separately, the port has taken delivery of six new semi-automated remote-controlled electric rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RCeRTGs) for Konecranes of Finland. They are the first part of an order for 17 new cranes.

Commenting on the new equipment, Robert Ashton, Chief Operating Officer of the Port of Felixstowe, said:

“This latest equipment delivery is further proof of our commitment to providing our customers with a high quality, reliable service whilst at the same time removing carbon from our operations. The use of automated and remote-control technology improves the efficiency and predictability of service. Even more importantly it provides better and safer working conditions for our team members.”

The new cranes were unloaded at the port’s Trinity Terminal before being transferred to Berths 8&9 where they will be based. Each will go through a short commissioning process before entering service.

The RCeRTGs are capable of lifting containers 1-over-6 high and span 7 rows plus a roadway. The operation of the cranes is fully automated with the exception of the lift to or from the carrying vehicle which is undertaken using remote control by an operator based in a central control room

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