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Gateway to Europe: Rotterdam’s most advanced terminal

Lloyd’s List talks to the chief executive of Rotterdam World Gateway Ronald Lugthart on how the fledgling facility has established itself as the Continent’s ‘go-to’ gateway

ROTTERDAM World Gateway is regarded as one of the world’s most automated container facilities. How has this concept driven success at the terminal?

“RWG, which opened in 2015, is the most automated and innovative terminal in the world. In the port of Rotterdam, we give new international meaning to container handling, making it the logistical gateway to Europe. The total concept exists of innovations in equipment, processes and digitalisation, as well as organisational innovations. It is precisely this mix of innovations and visions that means that we play a key role in a new generation of the efficient, sustainable, reliable and safe handling of containers. Furthermore, RWG is a unique consortium of globally operating container shipping companies and a terminal operator, all adding their experience and knowledge to this terminal. Five years after our official opening, we can say that these innovations are now a ‘proven concept’.”

What initiatives has RWG adopted to lower its carbon footprint and environmental impact?

“Sustainability is one of the core values of RWG. With an integral approach of sustainability and innovations, RWG set the new standard in decarbonising container terminals. Due to our extensive electrification of equipment and automated processes, we reduced our carbon footprint to almost zero.”

How does this automation reflect on your safety standard?

“Of course, safety is our top priority and is part of our culture. We have the lowest LTIFR in the sector, where work is at high risk. This is a result of our safety culture and management leadership. Employees and management are trained on a regular basis and safety awareness is extremely high. Furthermore, a continuous process is in place to further improve terminal equipment on safety and security. To underline the high standard of processes on safety, environment, employee engagement and asset management, certifications ISO14001, ISO28000, ISO45001 and ISO55001 are in place, as well as the Authorized Economic Operator label.”

What measures has RWG undertaken to boost productivity at the port?

“Due to our automation, Information Technology is key in our terminal and the core of our operations. Operational continuity and stability of IT systems are focus points of our organisation and we are continuously improving our processes and realising projects to improve this operational continuity and stability. We do this with a self-developed method of continuous testing and automated testing of our terminal systems. This allows us, for example, to carry out maintenance of IT systems without any down time. The result is a high up time of the whole IT and terminal environment.

“Besides improving processes, we are also investing in new equipment. This year, two extra deepsea cranes and an additional 25 fully electric automated guided vehicles will be implemented at the current terminal, to optimise our services and capacity. Together with our customers, stakeholders and partners, such as DP World, we will continue to develop our services.”

How has RWG fared during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Has this impacted cargo flows and throughput numbers?

“Our primary focus was and is on the health and safety of employees, customers and business relations, as well as business continuity. From the start of the pandemic, we have taken a number of measures to minimise the risk of contamination of employees and people present at the terminal. In addition, RWG has taken measures to ensure business continuity and, together with DP World, we have business continuity plans in place, ensuring stability and limiting disruption to our operational activities. The result is that businesses continued 24/7.”

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